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Texans special teams shine in win over Bills

The Texans won a hard-fought battle against Buffalo in a 20-13 win that featured big plays on special teams.

Brennan Scarlett recovered both a muffed punt and a blocked punt in Sunday’s first half against Buffalo Bills. The Texans converted the pair of early turnovers into a 10-0 lead in the second quarter.

"Special teams did a great job all day," cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. "They went out and made a turnover early in the game and made big plays for us, had field position."

After Houston’s first offensive series, Bills returner Ray-Ray McCloud III fumbled the ensuing punt by Trevor Daniel. Brennan Scarlett, now in his third season with the Texans, recovered and the Texans regained possession at the Buffalo 29-yard line.

Deshaun Watson connected with rookie tight end Jordan Akins for a 6-yard catch on the first play of the drive. Watson’s 22-yard pass to Keke Coutee on third down extended the drive on third-and-18. Two plays later, DeAndre Hopkins scored on an eye-popping 13-yard touchdown catch over his back shoulder. The Texans took a 7-0 lead over Buffalo after the five-play, 29-yard scoring drive in the first quarter.

With 10:13 left in the second quarter, Tyrell Adams blocked the Bills’ third punt of the day. The Texans signed Adams, a third-year inside linebacker on Oct. 6 from the practice squad. Adams spent the 2017 season with the Raiders and Bills and the 2018 offseason with the Indianapolis Colts.

On the second Bills special team's turnover, Scarlett scooped up the ball and returned it 14 yards to the Buffalo 21-yard line. Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 33-yard field goal gave Houston 10-0 lead with 8:37 left in the second quarter.

"You can’t do that," Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott said. "The difference in field position, they had the ball around the 40, I think 43-yard line. Ours was in minus 20 or something like that. You’re not going to set yourself up for success when you play that type of game. We’ve got to play better in that area.”

Scarlett recorded the first fumble recovery of his NFL career with the muffed punt. The second-quarter blocked punt marked the first blocked punt for the Texans since running back Alfred Blue blocked a punt in Week 1 of the 2014 season vs. Washington.

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