The Texans fell, 24-16, to the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. They committed two fourth-quarter turnovers near the goal line.
"As much as anything, you can't turn the ball over down in the red zone," Head Coach Lovie Smith said. "I mean, in a game we're a one-score game, a lot of things we talk about when you're one score game, you can look, normally, I'm going to look at turnover ratio and how we deal with that. And defensively, NFL games, you need to take the ball away. It's as simple as that. They did. We didn't. And as I mentioned that earlier, we got to protect the ball, make better decisions on some of those."
The Texans offense saw the return of both of their starting wide receivers in Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins. But tight end Jordan Akins led the team with 72 yards receiving on three catches. In his first game back from a Week 7 groin injury, Collins caught five passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.
"Both of those guys are extremely dynamic, getting open and making plays with the ball in their hands and we've just got to continue to find ways to find easy completions to them so they can make plays," Quarterback Davis Mills said.
Mills completed 22-of-37 passes for 319 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Dameon Pierce rushed for 94 yards on 17 carries, including one run of 44 yards.
Houston's defense was unable to contain the NFC's leading rusher, Saquon Barkley, who rushed for 152 yards and touchdown. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones completed 13-of-17 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Jonathan Owens led the defense with 12 tackles (10 solo) while Jerry Hughes logged another sack, bringing his season total to eight. Altogether, he finished with four tackles, a quarterback hit and two tackles for loss.
"I know it's maximum effort always trying to rush to pass as well as he (Hughes) can, trying to just play hard," Smith said. "So I know that's what he did because that's who he is."
The Giants took an early 7-0 lead after Jones threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Lawrence Cager on their first possession.
Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a 38-yard field goal to give the Texans their first points of the game. Pierce peeled off a 44-yard run to get Houston's offense inside the red zone.
Houston's defense forced a punt on every drive remaining in the first half. The Texans trailed 7-3 at halftime.
The Giants scored on back-to-back possessions to start the second half. Jones threw his second touchdown pass of the day to wide receiver Darius Slayton, who broke free for a 54-yard score to give New York a 14-3 lead.
On the next series, Mills led a seven-play, 72-yard scoring drive that ended in a 12-yard touchdown pass to Collins.
After Barkley's 2-yard touchdown run, Houston turned the ball over twice in scoring territory while trailing 21-10. Giants defensive tackle Leonard Williams forced a fumble by Pierce at second-and-goal to give New York possession.
The Giants were unable to convert the takeaway into points after Houston's defense forced a three-and-out. On the following drive. Cooks caught a touchdown pass, but it was called back due to holding. One play later, Mills' pass, intended for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett was intercepted at the goal line.
"Not coming away from that drive with with points, it's big," Mills said. "It changed from maybe, I mean, worst-case scenario, getting a field goal there. That allows us to go down that next drive and it'd be a one-possession game. So that's tough. I got to be smarter with the ball there. We're second-and-25. We don't need it all back at once trying to score. I could find the check down on that and get ourselves into third-down situation still in the red zone with a lot of plays at our disposal."
The Texans drove 12 plays and 76 yards and added a 34-yard field goal to get within one score, down 21-13 with 2:22 remaining. A failed onside kick and penalty gave the Giants possession in Houston territory. They added three points with a late field goal.
On the Texans final possession, Mills completed three consecutive passes for first downs, but a sack proved costly. With 11 seconds remaining, Fairbairn kicked a 46-yard field goal for a final score of 24-16.
"I got to go out there and make plays just like everyone else," Mills said. "My job is to go out there and protect the football and win football games. And we haven't done it up to this point, but I mean, we're really close and we're optimistic each week going forward that we're going to go out there and do enough to win games. And I mean, that's what the feeling in the locker room right now is, is everyone's hungry for this next week at home versus Washington to go out there and get a win."
With the loss, the Texans fall to 1-7-1 and will return to NRG Stadium to host the Washington Commanders in Week 11.