When the Texans needed a spark, Dameon Pierce delivered.
On Sunday in Jacksonville, the rookie running back took a handoff on 2nd-and-5 at the Jaguars' 22-yard line, with the game knotted up at 6-6. He plunged into a pile on the left side, came through the muck, rumbled to the right side, blasting over, around and through at least six or seven would-be tacklers. As he was dealing out the punishment, Pierce explained what was running through his mind.
"Go Country Boy, go," Pierce said.
When the proverbial dust settled on that play, Pierce had a 20-yard gain and the Texans offense had themselves a 1st-and-Goal at the Jaguars' 2-yard line. Perhaps more importantly, they were infused with a new-found energy.
"When it's crunch time at the end, that's what you need," Head Coach Lovie Smith said. "That type of effort. It motivated the offense and it motivated the defense, too."
"That play surged everyone up and got our spirits up, and led to a touchdown," Pierce said.
Pierce finished the day with 26 carries for 99 yards, and also caught a trio of passes for 14 yards. The Texans picked up their first win of 2022, triumphing 13-6. But that head-turning thunderclap at the 4:11 mark of the game was one quarterback Davis Mills won't soon forget.
"I think I counted at least six broken tackles after that run," Mills said. "I looked at LT (OL Laremy Tunsil) after the play and said 'This guy's the real deal'. He's trying to win games and he's helping us out a lot."
Pierce wound up scoring on a 1-yard run two plays later. But during his 20-yarder, he was gunning for the end zone.
"I was trying to get that touchdown," Pierce said. "I know I had the big boys coming eventually. They were going to rally behind me at some point, so I was just trying to fight and get in the end zone."
While it was his longest run of the day, he also had three other carries that went for 10 or more yards. Pierce was quick to give the credit for his success to his blocking up front.
"Initially, it was a great block by A.J. Cann," Pierce said. "To finish a play, you've got start a play. And A.J. definitely started the play for me. Great block."
For a team that was winless heading into Jacksonville, Smith and the Texans had reiterated over the last month how they needed to finish ballgames to get a victory.
"We know that he's going to finish," Smith said. "That he's going to show toughness. I thought he was outstanding."
Pierce now has 412 yards on 86 carries in 2022. He and the Texans are off next Sunday for a bye week, and will face the Raiders in Las Vegas the following Sunday.