After 12 years of nothing but wins over the Miami Dolphins, the Texans have lost two of the last three meetings. The "two" in that "two out of three" happened at Hard Rock Stadium, including Sunday's excruciating loss to the 'Phins. Sunday's defeat mirrors the defeat from the 2015 season in that both fit right into the "WHAT JUST HAPPENED?" category for sure. In that one, though, it was a complete meltdown from the first drive of the game and over by halftime. This one was far from a singular meltdown and more like a slow burn that just simmered all day long before the clock finally hit zeroes. It was frustrating on many levels as the Texans fell to 1-8 in the 2021 season. Here are my Harris Hits.
The first offensive drive of the game was a microcosm of the entire game, seemingly. The Texans offensive mix of run and pass had Miami on its heels after the Texans defense forced a three-and-out. However, down in the red zone, in a theme for the rest of the game, Miami brought blitz zero pressure and the Texans couldn't capitalize. Not only did they not capitalize, QB Tyrod Taylor overshot WR Brandin Cooks in the back of the end zone and the only person capable of catching the pass was a Dolphin - rookie Jevon Holland. The rookie safety made one heck of a catch ending what was such a promising and encouraging threat. After that interception, the Miami defense played at a much faster rate, had more juice and played an excellent ball game, for the most part.
That was such a pivotal play in this game, especially with each team on a seven-game losing streak. It's the type of kindling for a team to start the fire and really get rolling or for the team on the opposite end of it to continue to question what's gone wrong again. It never seemed as though the offense could get completely out of that funk the rest of the game. There weren't a ton of opportunities due to a combination of Dolphins defense and Texans mistakes, but there were a couple in particular that stood out. One in the first half was a pass across the middle to WR Chris Conley that was one guy away from being a track meet that Conley wasn't going to lose. After a holding call, the Texans faced a 1st-and-20 and the Dolphins again played man coverage. Conley beat CB Byron Jones badly on the inside route and Taylor threw a dart. However, Conley couldn't hang on for what could've been a massive play. A short run on second down combined with a forced throwaway on third down led to a Texans punt to end the first quarter.
The second play was a play the Texans have run for the past three to four years. It's one designed for one of a couple of people. It's either a run for the RB, a run for the QB or a short toss to the TE in the flat. The Texans have made some serious profit on that play over the years. The clear-out WR way down the field is just that, a clear out route to get the defensive back out of the way to have a clean throw to the TE with running room. The play NEVER seemingly goes to him. This one did. The Dolphins left WR Danny Amendola WIDE OPEN up the sideline and Taylor saw him but overshot him with the throw. A completion would have resulted in a walk-in touchdown that would've cut the lead to 17-13 in a quick minute. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.
What did happen was a tremendous performance from the defense. Let's start with the fact that it generated five turnovers. Put it this way, the Texans had more than half of the team's entire 2020 total (9) in this one game against Miami. It held the Dolphins to one true touchdown drive. It shut out the Dolphins in the second half. On 25 rushes, the Texans gave up just 49 yards. They had four sacks and two interceptions. They gave up ONE play of more than 20 yards all day long. What more could the defense have done on this day?
One of those interceptions came from S Eric Murray who hadn't been on the field much the past few weeks. The other interception came from a guy who made the first interception in his career - DL Maliek Collins. He also came up with a fumble recovery after a Jacob Martin sack in the fourth quarter and shared a sack with Jordan Jenkins (more on him in a second). On this day, Collins wasn't the only interior defensive lineman that stepped up in a big way.
On the interior, the Texans plethora of interior players were really tough to block consistently. Rookie Roy Lopez Jr. had a sack of Jacoby Brissett. Ross Blacklock was the one who tipped the pass to Collins for his interception. Jaleel Johnson blew through the Miami front a couple of times to create chaos and had a TFL.
On the edge, Jordan Jenkins was just about unblockable. He had 1.5 sacks, three TFLs and two QB hits. He was all over the place and his relentlessness was a key to getting after Jacoby Brissett. He could've had another sack if he could've wrapped up Brissett on a scramble. Fortunately, though, that pressure led to Eric Murray's interception. Jenkins was just brilliant.
Fellow DL Jon Greenard didn't record a sack, but he had a TFL and a QB hit. His partner Jacob Martin came up with a massive strip-sack yet again, though. After the Texans cut the lead to 17-9 in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins moved to the Texans 30-yard line. LB Kamu Grugier-Hill shot through for a five-yard loss on first down. So, on 2nd-and-15, I saw it coming from the backside as Martin blazed past the Dolphins LT and Brissett never saw what hit him. Martin chopped hard on Brissett's right hand and the ball came loose. DL Maliek Collins got on it and the Texans had excellent field position and a chance to tie the game on the following drive. Alas, it didn't happen, but not because of the effort from the defensive line.
LB Neville Hewitt played a total of 37 snaps - 28 defense and nine special teams - and he came up with nine tackles. He was so quick to trigger against the run and I pointed that out on the broadcast too. When he read the run, he was GONE to the football. Nine tackles on 28 defensive snaps is an outstanding ratio, so here's hoping we see more from Hewitt in the future.
Alright, that's going to do it from Miami. The Bye Week is here so it's time to recharge batteries to finish the final eight weeks of the season. See ya soon, everyone!!
The next time you can see the Texans at NRG Stadium will be on November 28 as they host the New York Jets in Week 12. Kickoff is set for noon CT.Click here for tickets.
Check out the best photos from the Texans Week 9 matchup with the Miami Dolphins.