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Defense makes the final stand | Week 11 vs. Arizona Cardinals


As a defensive unit the Texans take pride in the ability to close out games. Blake Cashman will admit that there have been a couple of instances this season that they haven't been able to do that. 

But it is not about what you have done prior but what you will do with your next opportunity.

Against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at NRG Stadium, the defense got that chance. Kyler Murray and the offense was driving. The Cardinals had a first down at the Texans 30-yard-line with two minutes to go, needing a touchdown. 

The Texans defense held. Allowed only two yards in the final four plays of the game, and forced a turnover on downs with just 35 ticks remaining on the clock to seal the victory. 

"To emphasize it, to practice it, to work on it every week and to finally have the opportunity to do it and closeout, I think it's great," Cashman, who led the Texans with 19 tackles, said. "It's a great confidence booster and something we can build on.

"We've put extra time in the two minute phase both offensively and defensively to make sure we're executing at a high level so we can closeout games and win the games when we have the opportunities to win them." 

When the Cardinals trotted out from the two minute warning, the first play was Kyler Murray tossing it out to James Connor in the flat. He was immediately met by Christian Harris and dropped for a five-yard loss. 

"I was kind of anticipating and made a play," Harris said. 

The next play, facing a 2nd-and-15, Murray was able to get it to Geoff Swaim across the middle for a seven-yard gain to make it 3rd-and-8 at the Houston 27.

As NRG Stadium roared, Harris once again came up with a big play. This time after breaking through the line, Harris put both hands up and batted away the Murray pass intended for Marquise Brown to set up a crucial fourth down. 

"When he's coming off the edge and you have pressure from all over the place, you don't want to rush too high and let him scramble out, he's a guy that has a lot of speed," Harris said. "You just want to condense the pocket and put your hands up. That's just what happened in that moment." 

The final play, it was Steven Nelson who ended up finishing it off. As Murray attempted a deep pass, with pressure coming from Will Anderson Jr., to Brown, it was Nelson who batted the ball away and ended the game. 

"That's a good feeling," Derek Stingley Jr., who had an interception, said. "Steve made the play. That was a great play. That was lit. I had never heard the stadium that loud before." 

The defense had made the final stand for victory. 

"We found a way to win," Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans said. "You have to play complementary football. Offense struggled there and defense stepped up and had their back. We've had other games where the defense has struggled and the offense has stepped up and made drives there at the end of the game to win the game. 

"I think the defense owed the offense a drive from that. So it was awesome to see the defense on that side and being the reason why we won that game."

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