At the end of the night when you look at the scoreboard it doesn't tell the story of how the game was well within reach for most of the evening. Yes, the Texans fell 24-9 yet they had plenty of chances in their bid to take down Carolina.
After trading three-and-outs, the Panthers put together a drive to go up 7-0. A holding penalty put the brakes on the ensuing Houston possession. Carolina got the ball back and took it all the way down to the Houston five-yard line only to be stopped on 4th-and-one on a Christian Kirksey-Zack Cunningham combined effort.
Houston moved the ball up to the 36-yard line but ultimately would punt. However, the defense was heating up, stopping the run and getting to Sam Darnold to the tune of three first-half sacks.
Late in the second quarter, Davis Mills and the offense caught fire with a seven play drive that ended with Anthony Miller catching his first TD pass as a Texan.
The extra point was missed but the Texans had seized momentum going into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Houston got the ball first and moved it nicely to the Carolina 39-yard line but could get no closer. Electing to punt, David Culley's crew had the Panthers pinned at their nine-yard line. The game turned on this possession though as the Panthers went 91 yards on nine plays and all of a sudden led by eight.
A Houston three-and-out was followed by a field goal, thanks to a stop by the defense at the Texans' three. Joey Slye answered with a 53-yard make to create an eight point deficit again. The Panthers were able to respond with a 12 play 75-yard drive that basically put the game away.
Mills, making his first start, played turnover-free but wanted more big plays and execution on third downs, which were converted at a one for nine clip. And the running game never got cranked up as the Texans gained 42 yards on the ground.
It won't make anyone feel much better but the Texans were right in these last two games yet unable to get over the hump. They have some costly injuries but no one will sing the blues for them. They play hard and need to heal big over these next few days to get ready for a good week of prep for Buffalo on October 3rd.
The Texans will host the New England Patriots on October 10th. Kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets.
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