Sunday in New Jersey was familiar for Dameon Pierce and the Texans.
The rookie ball-carrier turned in some dazzling displays on the ground, but the team came up short in the end. Pierce finished the day with 94 yards on 17 carries, as well as a pair of catches for 28 yards. Six of his rush attempts went for five yards or more, and three were good for double-digit yardage. His longest was a 44-yarder in the second quarter, which led to a Ka'imi Fairbairn field goal.
But the rookie was mad at himself for a fumble early in the fourth quarter that happened in a Goal-to-go situation.
"This game came down to turnovers in the red zone," Pierce said. "One for me, one later on in the game. It's unacceptable. We've got to play better ball."
While the turnover was costly, and the Texans fell to the Giants at MetLife Stadium, 24-16, Head Coach Lovie Smith focused on other reasons for a Houston defeat. He acknowledged that the rookie needed to protect the football and not fumble, but he pointed to Pierce's overwhelmingly positive impact through the first nine games.
"Stuff happens," Smith said. "I'm definitely not going to criticize Dameon Pierce, knowing what he's been doing for our team. He played the way he normally plays. That's giving it his all, every time he has an opportunity to. More of us need to play as well as Dameon has played throughout this year."
The Texans' first three possessions ended in 3-and-Outs. Pierce was dropped for a loss of a yard, and twice for no gain in the first quarter. But he and the ground game got going after that, as he peeled off a gain of 12, a 44-yard run and a gain of five to push the Texans into field goal territory.
As he's done after every contest, Pierce explained how the big guys up front were the reasons for his success.
"The o-line," Pierce said. "We just kept staying the course. When guys have confidence up front, it gives you confidence in the backfield."
Pierce finished with 5.5 yards per carry on the day, and another game in which he exceeded the century mark in yards from scrimmage. He's now carried the ball 165 times for 772 yards in 2022.
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