Jerry Hughes' debut as a Texan was a smash.
The veteran defensive lineman, who joined the club in free agency this May, finished Sunday's tie against Indianapolis with a pair of sacks, a forced fumble and an interception.
The game was tied at 3-apiece in the second quarter, and the Colts were facing a 2nd-and-7 at the Texans' 22-yard line. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw a pass intended for Jonathan Taylor, but Hughes had other plans, and picked it off. He said he saw "a lot of green field" before Ryan was able to bring him down after a 14-yard return.
"I wasn't sure how close Taylor was to me, so I felt like if I could kind of get Matt to open his hips and run the opposite way I should have a lot of green grass to score," Hughes said. "But he made the tackle. That doesn't really happen too often on d-linemen, so I've got to be better."
Ultimately, though, the Texans offense cashed in on Hughes' takeaway. Four plays later, QB Davis Mills found TE O.J. Howard for a 16-yard touchdown pass and Houston had a 10-3 advantage.
The Colts were back in Texans territory on the next drive, threatening to score before the half, but Hughes intervened on a 2nd-and-6 play from the Houston, strip-sacking Ryan for a seven-yard loss. Just like that, Hughes was the first Texan since Dunta Robinson (2004) and DeMeco Ryans (2006) to record a sack, forced fumble and interception return in a game. He's the only Texan to accomplish that trifecta in a half. DL Jonathan Greenard wasn't surprised, at all, by the performance from one of the team's two defensive captains.
"That's Jerry," Greenard said. "You all have seen it for 13 years straight. Overall, he brings that juice to us when we need it at times. He played ball. We see that in practice every day."
Ultimately, though, Hughes and the Texans were disappointed they didn't walk away victoriously in Week 1 after leading 20-3 in the fourth quarter.
"We've got to learn how to close games out," Hughes said. "We were up on those guys in the start of the fourth quarter, and we've got to shut the door as a defense."
The Texans hit the road for the next two weeks, as they'll face the Broncos in Denver next Sunday and the Bears in Chicago in Week 3.
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