No one ever said winning is easy but after a couple of tough losses, a bye week, a rash of COVID personnel losses, a Thursday of no actual practice and numerous personnel losses during the game, I'LL TAKE ANY KIND OF A WIN! Many will argue that a two point win at Jacksonville isn't anything to get overly excited about, but take into account ALL that I mentioned above, then tell me a win doesn't matter. Wins don't come with pretty points - they're all the same. Regardless, here are my Harris Hits from the 27-25 win over Jacksonville
I'll start with the greatest Texan of all-time. J.J. Watt got the 100th sack of his career and it came in only the way that Watt can do it - a little something extra. He worked past quarterback Jake Luton and then as Luton lost sight of Watt, the Texan star pounced on the ball knocking it out of the rookie quarterback's hand. I've been privileged to be on the sidelines (or in my first row moat this season) for every sack since 2014 and it's a true honor to watch him each and every game week. 30 years from now I'll tell my grandchildren...okay, maybe like 10-15 years from now, I'll tell my grandchildren about the days I spent watching one of the greatest players and men the city of Houston has seen. Congrats J.J. and a sincere thank you for all you've done for my/our city. On to the next 100!!
Prior to that sack, Watt was being held all day long. I kept thinking he was either going to get 100 and 101 or draw a myriad holding penalties. But, he got no help from the stripes at all. I'm telling you, and yes, I'm biased, but being fully and completely forthright, Watt was blatantly held three times that I saw clearly. Not surprisingly, J.J. was clearly upset and then took it out on the poor football in Jake Luton's hand in the fourth quarter.
There was so much noise during the week around receiver Will Fuller V and I'll be honest, I was sad about the prospects of losing him via trade. I've seen a ton of players drafted in Houston, play a portion of their career or all of their career and very few have evolved and grown like Fuller V. When he first got here, we all knew of his explosive speed and ability to embarrass any defensive back on the face of the earth. But, over the course of the past five seasons, Fuller V really sharpened his route running, worked on his hands and learned how to be an even better deep ball receiver. He showed all of that improvement on his 77-yard touchdown catch as he ran past rookie cornerback C.J. Henderson down the sideline, had to adjust to Deshaun Watson's throw back to the inside and then smoked everyone to the end zone. He's been one of my favorite players to watch dating all the way back to his days at Notre Dame.
Cornerbacks have such a hard time with Fuller because they just don't fully comprehend HOW fast and HOW twitchy Will actually is. Earlier in the game, Will aligned on the left side of the formation against Jaguars cornerback Sidney Jones. The Jaguars corner came up to press him on 3rd and three and within five yards, Fuller V was two steps past Jones and was in the process of pulling away...easily. Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw the other direction but I remember seeing that play thinking that Will was going to get one eventually. Thankfully, he did.
One guy who won't get much mention but deserves it without a doubt is defensive back Keion Crossen. He made three major plays in that game. The first one potentially saved four points. He came into the game after Vernon Hargreaves III came out for an injury. On third down, Crossen was the point man on the bunch and the Jaguars threw a bubble screen to the right. Crossen fought through the block and tackled Chris Conley at the line of scrimmage. The Jaguars had to settle for a field goal. A few punts later, Crossen roared down and made a wonderful tackle for no gain. Then. Crossen recovered the Jaguars onside kick to end the game. Three massive plays and Keion Crossen made every one. Now, he did miss a tackle on the Luton scramble, but these three plays will make up for it this time.
The first touchdown of the day proved the old adage that it's a game of inches. Receiver Brandin Cooks and tight end Darren Fells were on the same side of the field. Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw quickly to Cooks and at the same time the ball arrived, Fells laid into the defensive back, providing a key block downfield. Cooks turned up, patiently set up a final block on the sideline and sprinted 57 yards for a touchdown. A millisecond earlier and it's a clear offensive pass interference call. Luckily, it WAS a millisecond later and it turned into a touchdown, with some thanks also to tight end Pharaoh Brown who made the final block to spring Cooks in the clear. And, by the way, oh man, Cooks was FLYING down the sideline!!
Cooks' touchdown was the first touchdown on an opening drive in a regular season game started by Deshuan Watson since 2018. Two full calendar years - The last time that it happened was in week #9 of 2018 (November 4, 2018) against the Denver Broncos when Deshaun Watson completed a seven yard pass to rookie Jordan Thomas. That's a span of 29 games in the regular season between Deshaun Watson opening drive touchdowns. Now, in the playoff loss to Kansas City, Watson hit Kenny Stills for a touchdown right out of the chute and when A.J. McCarron started in week 17 against the Titans, he led the Texans on a touchdown drive. But, in the regular season with Deshaun at the helm, well, yeah, I'm glad that "streak" is over.
I haven't seen the game tape in full but I felt like that was linebacker Zach Cunningham's best game in 2020. He played with a ferocity that we'd all like to see from inside linebackers. The key, though, was the fact that he played under control all day long. He played a strong game, as was fellow linebacker Tyrell Adams who had another dozen tackles. But, Cunningham was seemingly on his game throughout the full 60 minutes.
Speaking of Adams...this was a two point game but if Texan defenders had held on to interceptions that hit them square in the hands, it could've been a much wider margin. Adams had one right in hands after it was tipped by Cunningham but it slipped through his grip. That easily could've been a pick six, well, a guy like Adams could've made it, not me, of course. Cornerback Phillip Gaines had a pair of interceptions that he couldn't corral. I feel like there was one more Jake Luton pass that should've been a pick. Luckily, Vernon Hargreaves III DID hang onto one that turned into a Texans touchdown.
Okay, quiz question, hotshot, who was the leading rusher for the Texans in this game? Congratulations to those that answered Deshaun Watson. He finished with 50 yards and had a number of runs that gave the Texans additional first downs. One of those runs was a scramble that got him down to the one yard line. One thing I've always noticed is that Deshaun has a different gear when he smells the end zone. When he tucked it in and headed for the goal line, he turned into the fastest running back in the building. He paid a bit for it as he was nearly flipped on his helmet. But, he was fine and handed to Duke Johnson on the next play for the Texans only rushing touchdown of the day.
One of the key moments in the game came with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars had a third and one at the Texans 41-yard line. Jake Luton handed off to running back James Robinson. Texans linebacker Tyrell Adams shot the gap and stuffed Robinson for a loss, with some help from Carlos Watkins. Down by eight with just a little over 36 inches to pick up on fourth down, the Jaguars decided to go for it. The Jaguars ran power to the right side and safety Justin Reid stuffed tight end James O'Shaughnessy and that slowed up Robinson. J.J. Watt destroyed the tight end. Cornerback Phillip Gaines finished up the tackle...well short of the first down. It was great team defense, full of guys doing their job at one of the most key times of the game.
Alright, we're about to land in Houston, so I'll cut it there. See ya next week in Cleveland, everyone!
Check out some photos from the Houston Texans Week 9 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.