Prior to the season, we all knew 2020 was going to be a challenging season on many levels, but the number of one score, stressful losses have certainly taken their toll. EVERYONE wearing the bullhead has been awfully frustrated with the difficult defeats and Sunday was another rough, one score loss at home. Here are my Harris Hits from the 37-31 loss to the Bengals.
On my first day in the building, back in 2014, I did a couple of segments of Texans Radio with Marc Vandermeer. I remember distinctly Marc mentioning that no Texans quarterback had ever thrown 30 touchdown passes in a season and that stuck with me. We brought it up every single season and Deshaun Watson flirted with that number but fell just short. Until 2020, that is. Watson threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns, which gave him a career high and franchise record 30 touchdown passes in a season. For as rough a season as it's been, getting to watch Watson play this game is pure joy - he didn't deserve to see his team lose 11 times this year.
The measure of greatness to me is how a player responds to adversity. In the three one score games since the announcement of Will Fuller V's suspension (minus Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills too) after the convincing win over the Detroit Lions, Watson averaged 346 yards per game and in the past two games had a rating of 120 or higher. That, among many other reasons, is why he was named a Pro Bowler for the third time.
The Texans offense put up 31 points in this loss to Cincinnati. Unfortunately, this was the second time this year that the Texans scored 30+ points in a game this year and lost (week 6 at Tennessee). For reference, the Texans lost just one regular season game when scoring 30+ points in a game (Philly 2018) over the past two seasons.
In 2018-2019, the Texans were 4-1 in games in which they scored 30+ points in a game. They are 2-2 in 2020.
Here's another one that stood out to me as well. The Texans have been 2-7 in one score games in 2020. In 2019, the Texans were 8-3 in one score games. In 2018, the Texans were 6-5, making the Texans 14-8 over the past two seasons. In the Texans last losing season in 2017, they were 1-5.
2020, 2-7 in one score games - finished no better than 5-11
2019, 8-3 in one score games - finished 10-6
2018, 6-5 in one score games - finished 11-5
2017, 1-5 in one score games - finished 4-12
2017 and 2020 were just so frustrating, perhaps for different reasons. That said, if an evil gnome came to me and said that I had to relive an entire season for a million dollars - either 2017 or 2020, I'd pick 2017 999 times out of a thousand.
Sunday's game was clearly running back David Johnson's best game on the ground. Last week, he was instrumental as a pass catcher, but he was a star on the ground on Sunday. He was decisive and read cuts properly on nearly every single run. Then, when he was needed as a receiver, he came through on a beautiful slant route for a touchdown against man coverage. He finished with 12 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown, while catching three passes for 11 yards and a touchdown. THIS is the David Johnson we all wanted to see in 2020. THIS David Johnson has been a versatile weapon, playing with confidence, vision and energy.
The run blocking was also much more on point, especially on the backside of runs. Johnson is an excellent "cut up" runner and, for that, he needs the tackles and tight ends to cave in that backside so Johnson can get vertical and downfield in a hurry. The makeshift offensive line provided those lanes for Johnson throughout the last three quarters.
Texans receiver Brandin Cooks was again fantastic, finishing with seven catches for 141 yards and a touchdown. Deep shots. Catch and run screens. Toe taps on the sideline. He's been brilliant in an un-brilliant season, for lack of a better made-up word. I wrote on Friday that he was on par for a little over 1,000 yards receiving, but with a big game in week 17, he could go over 1,100 yards on the season, which would be just his fourth 1,100 in his seven seasons.
Brighter days are ahead and those days can start on Sunday in the 2020 finale against Tennessee. See ya then everyone.
Houston Texans take on the Cincinnati Bengals at NRG Stadium.