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Harris Hits: Denver Broncos | Week 13


I really hope that when the Houston Texans kick off each and every Sunday, anyone with a heart issue proceeds with caution. EIGHT WEEKS IN A ROW a game has come down to the final minute.

Week 5 - walk off field goal

Week 6 - last minute defensive stop

Week 8 - walk off field goal

Week 9 - pseudo walk off TD pass

Week 10 - walk off field goal

Week 11 - last :30 seconds defensive stop

Week 12 - last play field goal miss

Week 13 - last :08 seconds defensive stop

Sunday's game was probably the most stressful given the stakes of the game. Facing the Broncos, with the same record of 6-5, with the playoffs lurking in the background, having a tiebreaking win, was of the UTMOST importance.

View the best photos from the Week 13 matchup between the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos.

And, it was Russell Wilson who had never lost to the Texans.

And, it was the Broncos, a team the Texans had a 1-4 record against in the last ten years.

And, it was the last game of a THREE game homestand.

And, it was the Texans who made the plays down the stretch to win the game. The defense had its fingerprints all over this win, but the offense had some stars as well. Let's dive into my Harris Hits from this 22-17 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday at a raucous NRG Stadium.

I always wonder where I'm going to start with my Harris Hits as there were many aspects to this win over Denver, but I'm going to start these HITS, sponsored by the number THREE (*cue the SchoolHouse Rock music*).

The first number THREE was the THIRD overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The THREE game run that Derek Stingley Jr. has been on is one of the best that I've seen any defensive back have as a Texan. If there was one, it was also #24 Johnathan Joseph in 2018. For as great as J Joe was, though, Stingley Jr's run is the best I've seen from my sideline spot every Sunday. The numbers are as follows - four interceptions in three games, two interceptions of Russell Wilson on Sunday. Five INT in 14 career games. Two of the most physically impressive interceptions I've ever seen occurred in the last THREE weeks. Two of the BEST CATCHES on either side of the ball in this THREE game homestand.

Stingley Jr. got a bit of help on the first interception from Will Anderson Jr, who I'll address in a bit. However, the tipped ball didn't help make the interception easier; it only made it tougher. The ball changed trajectory after it hit Anderson Jr's hands so Stingley Jr. had to reach back, get both hands on it, keep it from hitting the ground and complete the process of the catch. He did all of that, incredibly. When he was at LSU, there was little question that he could've gone over to play WR because of his speed, hands, ball skills and football IQ. THAT one interception showed all of those skills, my goodness.

His second pick was, though, SO BEAUTIFUL. Here's how I recapped Stingley's second interception in my Big Play Breakdown.

4th Quarter - Broncos Ball

9:40 remaining

2nd & six

-36 yard line

Texans ahead 22-17

The Broncos hadn't come out in empty much in the first half, but they went to it a bit more in the second half. So, they had 01 personnel in the game - four wide receivers and one tight end, no running backs. Two receivers and the tight end lined up to the left of the formation. Two receivers were in a near stack alignment, in a condensed split to the right of the formation. The Texans looked to be in quarters coverage as WR Courtland Sutton, one of the stack receivers to the right side, ran a beautiful slant and go. He got Texans S Jalen Pitre to bite on the slant and OH MY GOD HE'S WIDE OPEN. That was my exact thought from my view behind the play. I thought it was going to be a walk in touchdown for Sutton. The Broncos had brilliant protection in front of QB Russell Wilson, which gave him all kinds of time to find Sutton, seemingly, wide open. Wilson let fly and bad words came out of my mouth because I saw Sutton running right up the seam. Then, out of NOWHERE, Derek Stingley Jr. came flying in to save the day!! He read the throw perfectly in the air and leapt over the top of Sutton to pick off his second pass of the day. I mean, that's one of the best INTs that I've seen in NRG Stadium. Stingley Jr. shouldn't have even been in the area, given the coverage, but he just went and made one heck of a play. I saw it happen live and watched it at least ten times since and it's so beautiful! It's an incredibly athletic play. It's a BRILLIANT football IQ play. It's just a WONDERFUL football play all around by Sting!

The Catch! The Recognition! The Football IQ! All of it was spot ON for Stingley Jr. to get this interception that kept Sutton from making a huge play. Four picks in three games just weeks after returning from an injury? Wow, what a statement Stingley Jr's made recently.

The second number THREE was the THIRD overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, you know, the player that was drafted after a significant trade up with the Cardinals. You know, the trade that was panned throughout the NFL because "well, why would the Texans trade a top two pick next year for Will Anderson Jr?" My answer on Draft Night was THREEfold. First, the Texans won't be picking top two in 2024, that I can promise you (We're moving toward that being true). Secondly, there just isn't a defensive player in the 2024 NFL Draft class like The Terminator (that's now becoming absolutely true). THIRD, because of the second point, the first point would absolutely come true - in other words, Will Anderson Jr. was going to make the Texans better NOW, more so than a lesser defensive player later.

If you've been paying close attention, it's been CRYSTAL CLEAR that Anderson Jr. has been as advertised. But, the sack-philes out there seemed to lessen his impact because (*snively, snarky voice*) "Well, he only has X number of sacks! Bust!" However, the film always tells the full story and it told a strongly positive story of the season that Will's had. However, in front of a nationwide audience on Sunday, Anderson Jr put on his best show of the season. 

He hit Russell Wilson on the first throw of the game and I thought he nearly broke Russell in half. Then, he capped the drive by forcing a shanked punt. I still don't know how Broncos P Riley Dixon actually got it off without Anderson Jr blocking it but the only way he could was to kick it way right, a 22-yard shanked punt. The Texans rookie then racked up 2.0 sacks, 2.0 TFL, four QB hits and one key tipped pass that was Stingley's first interception of the day. 51 was just magnificent all day long, but he wasn't alone at number three.

The Texans traded up in the 2021 NFL Draft back into round number THREE for a WR that had been robbed, honestly, of his final season at Michigan due to the B1G bungling the COVID situation. WR Nico Collins, now in year THREE, was scintillating in all facets on Sunday, but his deep ball ability really showed up on Sunday against the Broncos. Here is my Big Play Breakdown of his first long catch of the day.

1st Quarter - Texans Ball

8:11 remaining

1st & 10

-22 yard line

Texas ahead 3-0

Texans WR Nico Collins was absolutely superb on Sunday with nine catches for 191 yards and a touchdown. On this first down play, the first play of the third drive of the game. It was time to go DEEP. The Texans brought in 12 personnel (one RB, two TE) and put those TE and Tank Dell to the right side of the formation. Collins faced Bronco CB Fabian Moreau who was in press coverage. QB C.J. Stroud put the ball in the belly of RB Dameon Pierce on play action and stepped back behind solid protection. That play fake drew the LBs close to the line of scrimmage. On his release, Nico beat Moreau inside, stacked him (got him on his back hip) and took off running like a bullet train down the field. C.J. reached back for his fastball and launched downfield as Moreau had no help behind him. Nico had Moreau by three steps and snatched the deep throw from Stroud for 52 HUGE yards on the BOMB! The Texans scored their first TD nine plays later.

Nico finished the day with 191 yards, which leaves him just nine yards short of 1k for the season in just 12 games. He's made every type of catch this year, but those deep ball catches were impressive on so many different levels. What a day for the Texans 2021 THIRD round pick in his THIRD season. 

Unfortunately, the last number THREE is the Texans actual #3 Tank Dell, who was drafted in the third round and broke his fibula on Dameon Pierce's touchdown run on Sunday. My heart sank when I realized that Tank was injured after the TD run. This team will miss so much about Tank and not just the receiving output each and every week. If he is indeed done for the season, he will have put together one of the greatest rookie seasons in recent memory - 47 catches for 709 yards and a Texans rookie record seven TD. Damn, that one hurts.

I mentioned Will Anderson Jr. above, but he wasn't alone because another former THIRD round pick had himself a day as well and was a key figure in the last defensive play of the game. That would be Jon Greenard. One thing I want to start with is the excitement that Anderson Jr and Greenard have for one another after big plays. When Will Anderson Jr had his second sack of Wilson on a bootleg, Greenard was right there to celebrate with him. When Greenard chased down Wilson for his sack, Anderson Jr was cheering as much as the boisterous NRG Stadium crowd was. 

On the final play of the game, though, Greenard had perhaps his best rush of the day and that's saying something because he and Anderson Jr strung together quality rushes throughout the game. On the snap, Greenard hit LT Garett Bolles with some power immediately and as soon as Greenard saw Russell Wilson in his sights, he immediately discarded Bolles to chase Wilson. The interception for Jimmie Ward ended the game but a Greenard sack would've done the same. He came so close but he forced Wilson to throw before he wanted…and Ward made the pick to end it!

There were so many stars on the day. Desmond King was robbed of one of the best defensive plays of the season. Jimmie Ward was super-important and came up with the pick to end the game. Brevin Jordan had THREE huge catches and the runs afterward were hugely important. 

The last number THREE is Russell Wilson, the Broncos QB wearing number THREE. The Texans finally beat him…and that's a great spot to end this one. A GREAT win in the THIRD game of a THREE game homestand. I'm going to rest now…until the next one next week Sunday in New Jersey. LET'S GO!!

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