Despite an early lead and strong start by Davis Mills and the offense, the Texans fell 38-20 on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders. Both teams battled in a one-score tennis match with four lead changes until the Raiders scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
"Offensively, we saw signs of what we can be," Head Coach Lovie Smith said. "Defensively, just didn't play well enough. Kind of simple as that. It hurt when you lose Maliek Collins. But I thought first half-wise we were in pretty good shape, but second half didn't do what we needed to. They got the run going. Of course, Jacobs is a heck of a back, but, you know, breakdowns, tackles. Just weren't physical enough at the end."
On offense, Houston finished with 404 net yards (296 passing, 108 rushing). Mills completed 28-of-41 for 302 yards, two touchdowns and one interception that was returned for a touchdown. RB Dameon Pierce finished with 117 scrimmage yards (92 rushing, 25 receiving) before being replaced by RB Dare Ogunbowale in the final minutes of the game. TE Jordan Akins recorded a team-high 68 yards receiving on just three catches. The Texans were 5-of-7 on third down through the second quarter, finishing 9-of-15 on third-down conversions.
"Made a big step up converting third downs and I thought that just allowed us to keep drives alive and move the ball," Mills said. "I thought we were efficient. Just got to find a way to finish."
The Texans defense struggled to contain Josh Jacobs, who rushed for three touchdowns and 143 yards on 20 carries. Derek Carr was 21-of-27 for 241 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. WR Davante Adams finished with eight receptions for 95 yards. Collins exited the game early with a chest injury and did not return.
WR Nico Collins had three catches for 33 yards before exiting the game with a groin injury. Starters Tytus Howard and Kenyon Green also suffered injuries late in the game.
"Hopefully it's nothing serious and we'll get some of those guys back," Smith said.
Early in the second quarter, the Texans took a 7-3 lead after Mills threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to WR Chris Moore on third-and-9. Houston converted three other third-down plays on the 13-play, 62-yard scoring drive. K Ka'imi Fairbairn extended the lead on the next possession with a 55-yard field goal, after missing from 39 yards earlier.
The Raiders responded with a 10-play, 82-yard drive, converting a fourth-and-1 with a pass to Jacobs. Two plays later, Carr found WR Mack Hollins on a 26-yard touchdown to tie the game 10-10 with 0:25 seconds left in the first half.
Houston settled for a 35-yard field on the opening drive of the second half before Mills threw his second touchdown of the day, a 25-yard score to WR Phillip Dorsett.
The Raiders would gain momentum and a 31-20 lead after Jacobs scored rushing touchdowns on three consecutive possessions in the second half. Jacobs eclipsed 100 yards rushing after his second score, early in the fourth quarter.
With 3:26 remaining in the game, Houston was deep in Raiders territory when Mills' pass, intended for TE Brevin Jordan, was picked off by S Duron Harmon and returned 73 yards for a touchdown.
"Obviously, tried to force a little bit on the interception, try to make a play so we could keep moving the ball and try to get a chunk on that play," Mills said. "Just got to be smart with the football there. But other than that, I thought we were still moving the ball, just not enough."
With the loss, the Texans fall to 1-4-1 on the season and will return to Houston for a two-game stretch next week against the Tennessee Titans (Oct. 30) and the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night (Nov. 3).