The Texans ground game executed efficiently throughout Sunday's 27-20 loss at New England, despite a number of challenges. After a fumble during the exchange of a handoff on the opening play, Houston's run game got back on track and served as the backbone of the offense in Week 1.
"I feel like we tried to run it early," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "It wasn't as good early but it got pretty good in the second half and just weren't able to finish it."
Houston outgained the Patriots 167 to 122 net rushing yards, averaging 4.9 yards per play. With their performance, the Texans tied for the second-most rushing yards in a season-opener in franchise history.
Lamar Miller nearly broke the century mark, rushing for 98 yards on 20 carries, including a 31-yard gain in the first quarter. Alfred Blue added five carries for 36 yards and a touchdown and Deshaun Watson gained 40 rushing yards on eight plays.
Right tackle Seantrel Henderson suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return. Rookie Martinas Rankin moved to left tackle with Julién Davenport taking over Henderson's spot at right tackle.
"We just feel like Martinas is very comfortable on the left so we felt like that was the move going in if something were to happen like that, which is too bad that that happened but we felt like that was the best move if something happened to Seantrel," O'Brien said.
The Texans first touchdown drive came in the third quarter. The reshuffled o-line paved the way for a heavy dose Miller and Blue on the series that was capped off with a one-yard score to Blue.
"I think he (Rankin) did well," guard Zach Fulton said. "It's always tough coming in, especially from an injury and Rankin being a rookie. I know hard that is sometimes, being thrown into the fire but he did a good job and we'll look at the film tomorrow and see how we did."
With his performance, Miller passed Ben Tate (1,992) for the third-most career rushing yards in team history and eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing in his Texans career. Miller also gained the most rushing yards in a game since he ran for 107 yards in Week 14 of the 2016 season at Indianapolis.