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Breaking down the key plays | Texans vs. Giants

Houston Texans Team Analyst John Harris breaks down the big plays in the Texans-Giants Week 10 matchup.


2nd Quarter - 0:07 remaining
Giants ahead 7-3
+43-yard line
2nd and five

At the end of the half, the Giants hoped to just get three points up on the board but with seven seconds, there wasn't time to hit a crosser and then kick a field goal. So, QB Daniel Jones held the ball a little longer than he wanted to launch a Hail Mary. That extra second, or two, was just enough for DL Jerry Hughes to get sack number eight on the season. The Giants came out with a trips bunch, unattached to the line of scrimmage, on the left side with a lone tight end on the right backside. The Giants were awfully concerned about Hughes so they put the RB to that side as well. So, a TE, the RT AND the RB were all responsible for not allowing Hughes to get near Jones so he could let a Hail Mary fly. On the snap, the TE got a piece of Hughes on the way out on his route and then the RB chipped on him. But, Hughes used the momentum off the chip to spin back inside on the RT who set too far outside. The Texans DL then spun free with a great ice pick to the inside of the RT's ribcage to propel him into the face of Jones. He then finished the sack, getting a little help from his friends to end the half with no further Giants damage.


3rd Quarter - 12:43 remaining
Giants ahead 7-3, first drive after halftime
+46-yard line
3rd and nine

Ugh. This one stung badly. The Texans had stuffed Saquon Barkley on two straight runs, forcing Daniel Jones into a key third and nine situation. The Giants had blitzed Davis Mills in this situation all day so the Texans flipped the script on Jones and it worked BEAUTIFULLY. DB Tavierre Thomas blitzed the edge which drew the RB. LB Blake Cashman occupied the guard and DL Mario Addison looped back into the A gap. He sprinted right past C Jon Feliciano and Jones was in major trouble. However, to the field side, the Giants ran a little pick route for WR Darius Slayton against the Texans' man coverage. Two Texans hit Jones as he floated one out to the flat that initially looked like it had no chance but Slayton saved the day. He actually double caught the ball and that impacted the pursuit angle of DB Jalen Pitre. Slayton figured Pitre was going to meet him on his outside so when Slayton caught the ball, he immediately spun back inside. He was right. Pitre went outside, as he should have, actually, but he couldn't corral Slayton who then had all kinds of running room with the rest of the Texans in man coverage. He got one block (in the back, actually) and sprinted the rest of the way with a MASSIVE touchdown to start the second half, giving the Giants a 14-3 lead.


3rd Quarter - 8:10 remaining
Giants ahead 14-3
+12-yard line
2nd and Goal

The Texans had just suffered a delay of game penalty, moving the ball back to the 12-yard line, which wasn't a bad thing honestly. It gave WR Nico Collins more room to maneuver against former Texan DB Fabian Moreau. It looked like the Giants were playing cover one - man-to-man with a safety free in the middle of the field. Collins was the #1 (widest outside receiver) to the field. He aligned halfway between the bottom of the numbers and the sideline. That was just enough room to operate against Moreau. Before he faded to the back of the end zone, Nico gave Moreau a little slant and go "sluggo" route and got Moreau to bite just enough on the slant. As such, when he went on the go, he had two steps on Moreau; Mills lofted one to the corner and Nico made the catch for a gorgeous touchdown. Man, it's great to have that man back at WR for sure.


3rd Quarter - 0:04 remaining
Giants ahead 21-10
-35-yard line
2nd and 16

The Texans had taken a loss on first down after having the ball near midfield. So, they came out in 12 personnel, which can actually be 11 personnel with Jordan Akins as much a WR as he is a TE. So, the Texans put Akins and two other WR to the field, creating a trips situation with a lone TE on the backside. The Texans appeared to run play action with trap protection (guard pulling across the formation). As the Giants sprinted up the field thinking they had won in the pass rush, Akins pivoted around after getting a quick shot on the blitzing nickel defensive back off the edge. Before that blitzer could get to Davis Mills, the Texans QB flipped the screen out to Akins who had a lot of room to run. But, to make it a MASSIVE play, he needed a key block from LT Laremy Tunsil. LT turned LB Micah McFadden back to the inside and that left Akins running wide open down the field. The Giants were playing man coverage, so the outside WR just ran their men downfield as Akins sped toward the Giants goal line with the ball in hand. 46 yards later, he had the ball down to the nine yard line, first and goal, after a brilliantly called screen.

**As a side note, the screens were wildly successful against the aggressive Giants pressure schemes, but no one screen better than this one from Akins.


4th Quarter - 9:55 remaining
Giants ahead - 21-10
+29 yard line
2nd and 25

QB Davis Mills had just thrown a dime for a touchdown to cut the lead to four, or even three with a two point conversion. But, it got called back for a holding penalty, negating a potential game changing score. So, on 2nd and 25, the Giants played a basic cover four, quarters concept. That's the proper call in that situation, especially so because the Giants front four was getting to Mills often. The Texans put Davis Mills in empty with three WR to the field and two into the boundary. WR Phillip Dorsett was the #1 WR (widest outside WR) into the boundary. He ran an out and up but CB Adoree Jackson played it very well. He didn't bite on the out and stayed in Dorsett's hip pocket on the up. The problem was that there was no route to hold the safety Dane Belton in his middle coverage area. With a little freedom, Belton slid over from the middle of the field to help Jackson play the out and up route. He anticipated so well that he actually was right on top of the play. When hulking Giants DT Dexter Lawrence II got into Davis Mills' face again, Mills couldn't be accurate with the football. The ball floated inside too far and Belton made the backbreaking interception, the first of his career. In the span of two plays and about two full minutes of real time, the Texans cut the lead to 21-16, had it overturned and then threw an end zone pick to give the Giants the ball back. Gut. Punched. Hard.

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