Davis Mills was in a drought.
He and the offense hadn't completed a pass longer than 20 yards after halftime in a game in over a month, but the rookie completed a pair of passes for 20 yards or more in the game's final 30 minutes at Jacksonville and the Texans triumphed, 30-16.
It was the first time he'd gotten significant yardage after the intermission in a game since the Halloween loss to the Rams at NRG Stadium. Other than that game and the home loss to the Patriots, Mills didn't get a second-half completion of 20 yards or more in five of his first seven starts. All seven turned out to be losses, but on Sunday, he bucked the trend.
After the Texans defense forced a Jaguars three-and-out to start the second half, Mills and the offense took over at the Jacksonville 47-yard line. A couple plays later, facing a 3rd-and-7 at the Jaguars' 44, Mills found Phillip Dorsett for 33 yards and a first down at the 11-yard line. The throw was a beauty, but it was Mills' actions before the snap that helped the Texans move the chains.
"He saw the blitz zero," Dorsett said. "I saw it, too, but he saw it and got into the right play. He actually took charge of it. Instead of bringing me over in motion, he actually told me to stay, and he called the play."
Opposing defenses have stymied Mills, QB Tyrod Taylor and the Texans offense at times this season, and Head Coach David Culley praised the rookie signal-caller, as well as Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly for making some needed adjustments.
"We knew they were going to get pressure," Culley said. "Especially in the second half, we knew they were going to put pressure on him, and he did a nice job of getting his hots, getting the ball to the guys that were hot on plays and did a really, really good job of doing that. When you hit those things when playing zero coverage, the only way you stop them from doing it is to get a completion, and he did a nice job of doing that."
The drive stalled three plays after Mills found Dorsett, but Houston pushed its lead to 23-10 with a Ka'imi Fairbairn field goal.
With 2:32 remaining in the game, though, Mills saved his longest throw of the day for last. He and the Texans held a 23-16 advantage but were in a 3rd-and-9 situation at the Jaguars 43-yard line. Jacksonville had just used its final timeout, and a stop would likely force a Texans punt or a very long Fairbairn field goal try.
Mills, though, broke out a "dagger" of a play and hit WR Brandin Cooks for what became a 43-yard touchdown pass.
"In the end, he did what we needed to do for us to win the football and get a touchdown and I was happy to see him do that," Culley said.
Mills was able to handle the blitz more effectively on Sunday. He was sacked once and only hit three times.
"I felt like all week we really emphasized seeing their pressure and seeing their whole defense in terms of picking up blitzes and protection," Mills said.
RB Rex Burkhead has noticed Mills steadily gain more and more confidence.
"I feel like the game's starting to slow down for him," Burkhead said. "If he can continue to do that and continue to execute, with maybe some different looks that possibly can come to him, then the sky's the limit. I look forward to seeing what he can do."
See Mills and the Texans host the Los Angeles Chargers this Sunday at noon CT inside NRG Stadium. Click here for tickets.