That was a rough afternoon.
The Denver Broncos came into NRG Stadium a pretty confident group, and left for the Mile High City with their fifth win of the season. Now, they didn't just leave with a win They came in and took it when the Texans needed, well, for that to not happen.
Here are my Harris Hits.
From the time the game ended until I got home, I didn't go five minutes without getting a call, a text or a face-to-face query wondering what happened to the Texans. I wish I knew. I'm sure Bill O'Brien wishes he knew. Things went downhill early and the climb back up was too difficult. The one thing O'Brien stresses to me and Marc Vandermeer during his coach's show is that the Texans can't do two things - turn the ball over and commit penalties. Unfortunately, they did both of those at crucial times in the first half. The first drive ended without a field goal attempt due to moving back after a penalty on third down. The second drive ended with the Broncos returning a fumble 71 yards for a second-consecutive touchdown. The result? A 14-0 hole that the Texans found themselves in to start the game.
Watching the game and then going back to reivew it on TV, I didn't notice one ounce of quit or lack of effort. Quite frankly, the Broncos made each and every big play. Noah Fant's opening game catch-and-run. Quarterback Drew Lock's laser to Fant for the first touchdown. Kareem Jackson's fumble return for a touchdown. Lock to Tim Patrick deep on 3rd-and-9 for a first down. Jackson's big hit on third down on DeAndre Hopkins to force an incompletion that ended a Texans drive. Shelby Harris' 4th-and-1 pass bat down. That was just in the first half alone. The Broncos didn't physically dominate up front. They just executed flawlessly and made plays. The Texans didn't early and did too late to overcome the big hole. Deciphering the game of football isn't that difficult, and this game was no different.
Linebacker Zach Cunningham was one of the few bright spots for the Texans on either side of the ball. He was a thorn in the Broncos' side in the run game, tracking Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman all day long. He finished with 16 tackles and two tackles for a loss and was as good against the run as he's been in his career.
If there was any good news for the offense on Sunday, it was the Texans piling up 134 yards on the ground. Carlos Hyde ran for 73 yards and Deshaun Watson added 44 to the total. The Texans averaged 6.1 yards per carry but they only ran 23 times due to having fallen behind so early in the game.
Each and every week on Texans Monday, Vandermeer and I have to pick a Holmes Smokehouse Player of the Game. The only player truly worthy after this loss was Hopkins. He got absolutely drilled earlier in the game by Jackson, was examined by the doctors/training staff and came back out to finish with seven catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. He kept competing in this one even when it was clear the Texans would take the loss. He was outstanding again and his seven catches leave him seven short of another 100-catch season. Furthermore, he continued his streak of 5+ catches in a game to 17 games and 4+ catches to 23 games. Quite frankly, he's the best there is at that position.
So, a final update in the Chiefs-Ravens-Texans-Patriots round robin... The Patriots finished 0-3, while the Chiefs, Texans and Ravens all finished 2-1. All three lost to each other, but each of the three teams beat the Patriots, including the Chiefs on Sunday afternoon in Foxboro.
Oh, the other news was that the Titans flew to Oakland and dominated the second half for their eighth win of the season. That sets up an 8-5, tied for the AFC South lead matchup in Nashville next weekend. So the playoffs start on Sunday in Tennessee.
There's not a ton more to discuss about this one. It was a horrible loss, but just one loss. So, we'll see what this team is made of next week when the division is on the line in Nashville. See ya then, everyone.
Take a look as our Houston Texans Cheerleaders cheer on the Texans as they take on the Broncos for the thirteenth game of the 2019 NFL season.