The rain started about 30 minutes prior to kickoff and never let up...neither did the talented and explosive Buffalo Bills. It was a frustrating afternoon to say the least, but there's plenty of football left in the 2021 season to allow us to forget this day at some point. Until then, though, this one will sting. Here are my Harris Hits from a wet and soggy afternoon in Orchard Park, NY.
As the rain fell in the first quarter, Davis Mills' first pass attempt slipped out of his hand and I remember thinking, how will it go for Bills QB Josh Allen? Well, I, and the entire Highmark Stadium crowd, found out very soon. On his first throw of the game, Allen was wildly inaccurate (for seemingly the only time all day, mind you) and the ball ended in the belly of DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. The third year safety then turned in one heck of a return to get the offense its best field position of the day.
Man, I really thought Johnson was headed to the end zone on the first Bills offensive play of the game. After a three-and-out by the Texans offense, the Bills had good field position to start the day. Allen took his drop, with the rain coming down hard, fired into the middle of the field and Lonnie jumped in front for the first pick of his career. He then cut back on the run back and took it down inside the red zone. I thought Lonnie's cut back was going to end up in the end zone and even though it came up a few yards short, it was one heck of a play to start the game.
The Texans defense did a tremendous job forcing the ball out and/or picking it off throughout the first three quarters. DB Desmond King II punched the ball out in the second half, but the Bills got on it after Maliek Collins, in pursuit of the ball carrier, accidentally kicked the ball in the wrong direction. DB Terrance Mitchell punched one out that squirted around on the wet turf until Bills OL Daryl Williams landed on it. Both of those forced fumbles ended up in scores for the Bills.
It was that kind of day, though. Weren't able to recover a fumble. Finally made a catch for a first down, but the ball was stripped away. Tipped pass into the hands of a Bills defender. Just an avalanche of bad all afternoon long.
Throughout the past week, everyone wearing the Texans logo talked about how the running game had to improve. Early in the first quarter, RB Mark Ingram II hit a run off the right side that was EXACTLY what we had all been discussing. So, it's there, but the ill-timed penalties that put the Texans behind the sticks helped eliminate any progress in the run game on this day. It was not good on the ground, unfortunately.
It was great to see DB Justin Reid and LB Kamu Grugier-Hill back on the field. KGH made a tremendous stop in the backfield early in the game for a TFL. When he signed, people asked me what they should expect from the veteran linebacker and I wasn't completely sure. I knew he'd be reliable, smart and quick/fast, but he's been well beyond anyone's expectation outside of his own. Reid made one of the best plays I've seen him make when he saved a touchdown at the goal line. Bills QB Josh Allen sprinted out right at me on the right side of the field. He had TE Dawson Knox WIDE OPEN, but Reid stayed home when Allen started to boot in his direction. Allen then thought he'd take a run at the end zone, but Reid cracked him at the two-yard line and knocked him out at the six-inch line. Reid made just a tremendous effort play to make the stop.
There are never any real standouts in a decisive loss, but LB Christian Kirksey, in the middle, continued to lead this defense, holding it together and holding Buffalo to field goals to keep the Texans in the game over the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, the lack of offensive assistance forced the defense to break, giving up 21 points. But, not for a lack of a yeoman's effort by Kirksey, one of the key defensive leaders on this team.
It was, unfortunately, a perfect storm, pun intended (I think) of weather, inexperience, a great opponent and a tough environment. That said, this one has to be forgotten and soon to get ready for the Patriots next week at NRG. See ya then, everyone.
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Check out the top photos as the Houston Texans take on the Buffalo Bills in Week 4 of the 2021 NFL Season.