The Houston Texans defeated the Detroit Lions 30-23 with a few key starters making their preseason debut. Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins scored a touchdown on the opening drive before exiting the game.
"It felt great to just be back out there on the field with the guys," Watson said. "Live action, back in the front of the Houston Texans fans and feeling the energy of the stadium, the energy of the guys. Just trying to make plays and set the tone for the 2019-20 season. It felt real good, it felt comfortable, felt happy. Everyone was on the same page, operation was perfect and we went down and got points."
“That was a pretty smooth drive, pretty good,” Hopkins said. “Going out, starting fast, that’s all we can ask for. We did what we came out to do and that’s score.”
Lamar Miller, Will Fuller V, J.J. Watt were among the starters that did not play.
On the second play of the Lions’ first possession, Whitney Mercilus recorded a strip sack on quarterback Josh Johnson for a loss of seven yards.
Detroit recovered the fumble but was forced to punt two plays later. Houston committed two turnovers in the second quarter, including a fumble recovered by Detroit’s defense and returned 19 yards for a touchdown. The Lions tied the game 10-10 with 7:30 left in the first half.
The Texans defense had two takeaways on back-to-back drives later in the second quarter. Linebacker Davin Bellamy recovered a fumble and Houston capitalized with a touchdown four plays later. Webb threw a 31-yard pass to Vyncint Smith as the Texans took a 17-10 lead with 0:40 left in the first half. Detroit’s next drive ended in another turnover, when cornerback Derrick Baity Jr. intercepted a pass intended for wide receiver Andy Jones.
Rookie offensive lineman Tytus Howard left the game before the end of the first half. Head coach Bill O’Brien had not spoken with the team’s medical staff and did not have an update on the starting left guard after the game.
Joe Webb led the Texans on four scoring drives (two field goals, two touchdowns) and was under center for the majority of the game. Webb was 14-of-25 for 186 yards, one touchdown and one interceptions in his second preseason game. Jordan Ta’amu took over for Webb with just over six minutes remaining in the game.
The Texans offensive line paved the way for 168 yards rushing in the win. Buddy Howell, usually a special teams player, led the team with 15 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown.
“I just waited for the backside crease and the o-line gave me a gap and I just hit it, dove into it because I basically fell into the endzone. It’s all of them. They did it for me and I just went out there and executed.”
Howell said he was always hungry for any opportunities in the game, whether on offense or on special teams, but said it felt great to run the ball.
"Buddy's a good player," O'Brien said. "He's a tough player, he's a good special teams player. He's been a productive player for us here on special teams, so he's done a good job. It was a good night for him tonight."
The offensive line was without starting left tackle, Matt Kalil. Roderick Johnson got the start in Kalil’s place.
“I did not want him (Kalil) to play tonight,” O’Brien said. “He’ll play next week. Just managing reps, that all that is.”
Ka’imi Fairbairn was 3-for-3 on field goals from 50, 27 and 39 yards.
The Texans will travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys in their next preseason matchup.