Winning is fun. Winning while having fun is even more fun. Does that make sense? It seemed to make more sense in my head maybe than it does in print, but just go with it. The Texans truly got it rolling in the second half as the Texans outscored the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-7 to win 30-14. Here are my Harris Hits from the first win of the year over the Jags.
A few numbers to start out...the Texans scored 30 points in a regular season game for the first time in nearly a calendar year - week 6 at Kansas City when the Texans upset the Chiefs in Arrowhead 31-24. The week prior the Texans put up 53 in a win over Atlanta. So, in 21 regular season games over 2019 and 2020, the Texans reached 30+ points just three times. Hopefully, going forward, this is more of a trend than an anomaly.
Seeing receiver Brandin Cooks break out today was such a welcome sight. With eight catches for 161 yards and a touchdown, he had his best yardage game since December 18, 2016 when he was with the New Orleans Saints. In that game against the Arizona Cardinals, Cooks had seven catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns. We lived through one of his great games in 2017 as he torched us for 131 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winning touchdown catch at Gillette Stadium in a 36-33 win for New England. But, today, he went nuts...for us. That was special.
Every big catch seemed to give Cooks even more juice. He was like Monster Inc, but instead of gaining power with laughs and screams, he powered up with each and every catch. After he made a catch, he got up with an intense look on his face as he was totally dialed in all day long. He took an absolute shot from Jaguars safety Josh Jones in the hole of cover two down the sideline. Cooks popped up and was ready for more as Jones was ejected following that hit. After not having a catch against Minnesota, Cooks wasn't about to have another rough day against the Jaguars; instead, he had one of his career best games.
I really loved the offensive pacing, mixing in some up-tempo with its normal huddle pacing. Quarterback Deshaun Watson, along with offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, led the band masterfully throughout the day.
The one play that generated the biggest reaction from the sideline and the crowd was the decision to go for it on fourth and four in the fourth quarter. Ahead 23-14 and facing a fourth down and four to go, head coach Romeo Crennel decided nearly immediately to allow the offense to go for it. Watson threw a strike to Cooks on a slant route for much more than a first down. Cooks sprinted up the field for a touchdown to put the capper on the 16 point win.
The entire sideline lit up on that one. Why? I think it's because when you see your coach make the decision to go for it in a key spot, it's that he/she trusts you. All of you. No matter what happened on that play, it was clear that everyone on that sideline wanted to put the nail in the Jaguars coffin. It took almost two or three minutes to get to the extra point...or so it felt like because the celebration took that long. No one cared though, it was awesome.
I'll get back to the offense in a little bit, but I've got to mention the defensive effort on Sunday. It wasn't perfect and that group will tell you there's still a ton left on the field to correct. BUT...the defense made stops all day long in key spots. Not yielding points at the end of the half was equal parts lucky and outstanding. Forcing the field goal attempt on short fields that the Jaguars had after Texans turnovers was a major coup for Anthony Weaver's squad.
Outside linebackers Jacob Martin and Whitney Mercilus each came up with a sack on the day and Martin was able to force the ball out of quarterback Gardner Minshew II's hand. Mercilus, who beat left tackle Cam Robinson badly for a sack earlier in the game, picked it up and had a touchdown in his sights. Unfortunately, he got hammered and fumbled himself. Thankfully, a Texans defender hopped on it. Four plays after that strip sack, the Texans scored a touchdown on the fourth and four conversion.
One of the great plays of the game was courtesy of linebacker Tyrell Adams. The veteran stepped in for long time starter Benardrick McKinney and racked up 13 total tackles. On a key fourth and one in the third quarter, the Jaguars motioned quarterback Gardner Minshew II out to the left of the formation, leaving running back James Robinson in the Wildcat formation. Robinson took the direct snap and headed to the right side of the formation. It was clear from my vantage point that he was going to throw a pass into the end zone. Because he didn't attack the line right away, it gave Adams a few beats to get wide quickly and knock the ball free out of the rookie running back's hands. J.J. Watt fell on the loose pigskin for the first Texans turnover of the year.
Adams also had one of the team's four tackles for a loss when he read a wide zone run and shot a gap to stymie Robinson. The Texans held the rookie to 23 yards below his per game average and under four yards per carry. After a 11 yard run on the first run of the game and one 14 yard run later in the game, Robinson could only muster 23 yards on 11 more carries. Furthermore, after rushing for 43 yards in the first half, Adams had just five yards on five carries in the second half.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw some dimes on the day but I LOVED his throw to tight end Darren Fells for the team's first touchdown of the day - a 44-yard catch and run for six. The offensive line gave Watson plenty of time to scan the field, a theme throughout the day. Watson saw safety Jerrod Wilson break on the low route - Kenny Stills underneath - which left Fells behind Wilson for an easy catch and run for a touchdown. The best part of the play was when Watson released the ball, Stills knew immediately it was a big play. He threw up his arms signaling a touchdown as the ball left Watson's hand.
It was a good, nay...VERY good day in NRG Stadium on Sunday. That winning feeling came back in a big way. It had been 281 days since a win, so any W would have done. However, the Texans didn't arrive just looking for a win; they came to re-start the season and accomplished that goal. Now, it's time to keep that winning feeling around for a while, especially when it comes to division games like this and the big one next week at Tennessee. See ya then, everyone!
Houston Texans players take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium in Week 5 of the 2020 NFL Season.