Wins in the NFL are precious. Leads must be nurtured and handled with care. The Texans pulled out all the stops in building a 22-9 advantage over the Patriots with less than a half to go. But the offense cooled down and New England heated up as Houston fell 25-22.
The Texans scored on a flea-flicker, went for it on fourth down three times and converted each one but ultimately couldn't overcome some errors and came up short.
Two missed extra points, a missed field goal and a zero-yard punt loaded up the wrong side of the ledger. The positives were plentiful. The Texans took the rock away twice with Terrence Mitchell Peanut-Punching the ball out at the goal line and Lonnie Johnson Jr. picking off a pass for the second time in as many weeks.
Davis Mills played by far his best game with three touchdown passes and over 300 yards passing. He took a gigantic leap forward. But the Texans offense still had trouble getting anything consistent going on the ground and first downs became rare after intermission.
With Houston up 15-9 at the break, the Patriots came out in the third quarter and Mac Jones threw a pick to Johnson. Two plays later, Mills would find Chris Conley for his third TD pass of the afternoon off a flea-flicker.
After that, though, the Houston offense went three-and-out, four-and-out then missed a 56-yard field goal and put up another three-and-out on their final real possession of the game. Houston was one-for-five in its last six third-down attempts and saw a seven-minute time of possession advantage at the half evaporate into a deficit by the final gun.
Mills and the passing game produced nicely and the defense looked like it had the winning recipe for much of the afternoon until that group had to stay on the field too long in the second half. This is a familiar tune and the coaching staff will continue to look for ways to keep the offense moving as games go into the final stages.
In the Texans four losses, the fourth quarter has belonged to the opponent and that has to change. This is still a group that's learning to play together. Opportunities are there but the Texans haven't closed the deal since opening day.
Now it's time to go back into the division with a date at Indy. This is only the second AFC South game for Houston. There are some good things to take away from this one into next week but plenty to work on as the Texans are now two games back in the division.
The Texans will host the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8 and kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets.
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