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Harris Hits: Week 8 at Carolina


Another road trip to take on an NFC South opponent

Another walk off field goal for the home team.

It was another gut punch for the Texans in Charlotte as Panthers K Eddy Pineiro knocked home a field goal to beat the Texans on Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium 15-13. Let's dive into some Harris Hits before we put this one in the rearview mirror for good.

The Texans have now lost two games in the final seconds - 21-19 at Atlanta and 15-13 in Charlotte - in the last three weeks. Neither game was pretty, but the Texans did enough to have a lead in the final minutes of each game. However, the Panthers did a whale of a job on the final drive, picking up key first downs when they needed them. The Panthers three previous drives in this game went for eight yards, minus ten yards and minus twelve yards. The Texans defense had completely shut the Panthers down; Carolina had -22 yards in the fourth quarter until climbing out from the shadow of their own goal line for Pineiro's game winning field goal.

The pass rush was just flat out relentless on Sunday. The Texans registered six sacks on the day. Jon Greenard had 2.5 sacks, Maliek Collins had two. Nine TFL. Ten QB hits. As I said, relentless. Greenard just dominated Panthers LT Ickey Ekwonu throughout the game. He bull rushed Ekwonu onto his wallet on one pass rush. He ripped through his outer edge to get clean to Panthers QB Bryce Young on another one. I said on our quick game preview on the plane before we took off that the Texans would get five sacks and just missed it by one, as they finished with six. Even one more would've come in handy on the final drive, but just didn't happen.

The offense was a bit more disjointed. It had a 17 play/92 yard drive for a touchdown in the first half. It had a 12 play/75 yard drive for a touchdown. Those drives showed the whole offensive package.

The seven other drives? They accounted for 52 yards on seven drives. The one that had nearly every Texans offensive coach frustrated more than any other was the last drive of the game. The Texans faced a third and five at the Panthers 35-yard line but were called for a questionable delay of game, pushing them just a shade out of field goal range. Just as the play was blown dead, it appeared just as Noah Brown was breaking open for a first down catch and run. Who knows what happens if the Texans pick up that first down and do no worse than kick a field goal to take a four point lead?

The mistakes on key plays on offense just sting that much more. The delay of game penalty mentioned above. The fumble after the catch in the third quarter turned into three Panthers points. On the very next drive, an ineligible man downfield penalty negated a big Noah Brown catch, who had a couple of big third down catches. That would've put the ball at the Panthers 42-yard line for a shot at points in a 12-7 game at the time.

Man, C.J. Stroud threw one of the best passes I've seen him throw this year and there have been plenty of them. But, the way that he threaded the needle to Noah Brown on the in route on the Texans first scoring drive. I saw him cock his arm and I started to hold my breath because I wasn't sure there was enough room to throw the ball anywhere. But, Brown darted into the smallest of voids between the LB and the S and Stroud put the ball right on him, just before the hole closed. I've seen that throw live, TV angle, end zone angle and opposite end zone angle and I still don't know how Stroud got that one to Brown unabated.

I don't know that I've ever seen a better punting performance than the one that Texans P Cam Johnston put forth on Sunday in Bank of America Stadium. He punted six times for a NET average of 45.8 yards per punt. Of those six, he put four of them inside the 20-yard line. He hit a ROCKET of 74 yards just near the end of the first half that kept points off the scoreboard. The Texans were on their own 12-yard line on 4th and 23, so Johnston was in his own end zone. He hit a MISSILE that Panthers returner Ihmir Smith-Marsette literally caught running backwards and was stopped at the Carolina 19-yard line. A run of the mill punt of, say, 50 yards and Smith-Marsette could've returned that around midfield to give the Panthers a chance at points before the end of the half. Johnston didn't - he hit the longest punt in Texans history to keep points off the board.

You know, that's going to do it. This one needs to be flushed…and flushed fast. So, let's get on to Tampa Bay as soon as possible. See ya on Sunday!

View the best photos from the Week 8 matchup between the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers.

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