The Texans went into Thursday night's opener knowing they'd have to play nearly mistake-free to get a win. They also knew that the Chiefs had a diverse offense that could hurt teams in a lot of different ways.
Too many effective plays by Kansas City, combined with some errors in all phases, cost the Texans an opportunity to start the way they wanted to.
When the Texans drove down the field on their second possession and scored on David Johnson's 19 yard touchdown run, it felt like moving the ball well could be an all-night thing.
But Houston didn't find the end zone again until the fourth quarter. Meanwhile Kansas City unveiled a terrific ground game with Clyde Edwards-Helaire running for 138 yards in his rookie debut.
If you had told me that Patrick Mahomes would only throw for 211 yards I'd say the Texans were likely in great shape. But the running attack combined with a surgically productive short passing game gave the Texans fits.
Mahomes mixed in spreading the ball around on quick passes and rollouts to the tune of 28 first downs and a ten minute differential in time of possession.
David Johnson had an impressive debut with over 100 total yards, including his TD run. Deshaun Watson worked well with Will Fuller for 112 yards on eight completions. And he found his new weapons enough to put 20 points on the board. But that's not the performance he was looking for from the Houston offense.
There's plenty there on the Texans offense to make you optimistic about the potential production in games to come. But there's nothing easy about what's coming up on the schedule. All the things we said about playing relatively error free and containing the assets of the opponent certainly apply to Baltimore as well.
The Texans wanted to limit big plays, and they did. The Chiefs didn't have a pass play longer than 19 yards. It was the rookie running back that did them in, combined with not putting together timely, point-producing drives.
I'd love to say that a rocking 70,000 seat partisan building awaits the Texans but that would be wrong. Yes, there's still a home field advantage during the pandemic. But without fans, it can't be considered quite the same.
Yet, the team that has to travel, that must disrupt their routine – they are at a disadvantage. The Texans have to hope their home edge combined with, more importantly, an improved performance on the field, makes the difference in getting them their first win when they face the Ravens September 20.
Check out photos from the Houston Texans first game against the Kansas City Chiefs.