The Texans first Thanksgiving game was a nail-biter with an overtime ending and win. That was certainly not the case in the Texans' second ever game on Thanksgiving. The Texans took a lead in the 2nd quarter, dropped some offensive bombs on the Lions early in the fourth quarter and cruised to a 41-25 win, the team's fourth of the year. Here are my Harris Hits from Thanksgiving afternoon in Detroit.
What is there to say about J.J. Watt that hasn't already been said? His pick six lit up the Texans sideline as much as any play in 2020. The Texans even got a delay of game because it took so long to clear the field after his touchdown. Watt knocked down four passes against New England and since his last pick six, he's come OHHHHH so close to another one. I can remember seeing him jump out on quick screens to the side and nearly snatching another one. But, over the past six seasons, he just couldn't corral one...until today. The thing about that pick six was that the Texans desperately needed a play in the worst way, from ANYONE. Watt delivered in a MASSIVE when the Texans needed it most.
I'm not sure what most people will remember about this game, but just judging by the reaction on social media, the trick plays had everyone buzzing. I mean, take your pick. Tight end Jordan Akins at fullback getting a key first down RUN? That was sweet. Then there was the inside shovel to Keke Coutee for the two point conversion. The coup de grace was the double pass off the handoff to Duke Johnson. According to Deshaun Watson, Duke wasn't supposed to throw it back to Deshaun if he got pressure, but Duke did anyway, throwing a dime back behind him to Deshaun. Watson knew Will Fuller V was wide open so he just had to get the ball back. So, he hollered at Duke to throw it back to him during the play. I think Texans fans, followers, analysts were just so shocked to see the glut of trick plays, I suppose. I loved it! OC Tim Kelly emptied the bucket and it paid off in a big way.
I want to make sure that I focus on two other players to start off. First, quarterback Deshaun Watson was again sublime. He was efficient and darn near dominant (17 of 25 for 318 yards and four touchdowns - a near perfect 150.4 rating) The Lions had absolutely no answer for Deshaun - throwing or running. He kept drives alive early in the game with scrambles up the middle. The Lions then had to take a linebacker to spy on him and that just opened up more areas in the passing game. And, in the passing game, my gosh, Watson was fantastic. The ball he dropped on Fuller V in the 4th quarter was a dime. He lobbed one in that same end zone earlier in the game to running back Duke Johnson for a touchdown. He threw laser strikes to Brandin Cooks in the middle of the field for big first down catches, even when penalties backed the Texans up throughout the day. Watson was just so damn good that I can't really put into words HOW good. Just know we're really, REALLY lucky to have the opportunity to watch him play week in and week out. The light has not only gone on; it's burning all night long.
The other player is Fuller V. There are some fast dudes in the NFL. The Cheetah in Kansas City is phenomenally fast. Rookie Henry Ruggs III in Las Vegas can change a game with his speed. However, the FASTEST receiver in this league is Will Fuller V. Now, that's a great attribute to have and there have been other fast guys in this league, but no one that I've ever seen RUNS AWAY from dudes like he does. On that touchdown catch, the Lions played man/post safety coverage. Bad move. Amani Oruwariaye stepped up to press Fuller V. After ten yards, they were relatively even but over the next 20 yards, Fuller V pulled away from him as if I were covering him. I was not, a professional football player was, and Fuller V completely embarrassed him. He has been WAY more than just a one trick pony/deep ball expert, but even if that was all he did, he'd be the best in the league. He finished the day with six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Hope y'all put Fuller V in your Fantasy Football lineup this week!
Running back Duke Johnson had one of my favorite plays of the day. The Texans went empty, leaving Deshaun Watson all by himself in the backfield. The Lions countered with man coverage, which put talented linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. In 1-on-1 coverage with Johnson, who had aligned out wide. Duke threw a stutter-and-go double move on Collins and the Lions linebacker bit hook, line and sinker. All that was left was for Watson to drop it in the bucket for the touchdown. He did. Duke caught it and the Texans grew the lead in the first half.
The 41 points the Texans scored were the most since scoring 53 against the Atlanta Falcons in week five of 2019. The 23 first half points were not the most the Texans scored in a half this year. They did score 26 in the second half at Tennessee in week 6. It was, however, the most in the first half of a game this year and it was vital in this win to get off to a great start.
Texans linebacker Tyrell Adams has more than made the most of his opportunity with B Mac (Benardrick McKinney) sidelined for the rest of the season. All Adams did on Thanksgiving Thursday was record 17 tackles (tied for the team record), force two fumbles and break up a pass. And, he hardly played in the fourth quarter as the Texans had a massive lead, which allowed some backups the opportunity to play in the final 15 minutes. Regardless, Adams was all over the field in this one as he's been throughout his stint for the Texans in the middle. Smar, tough, quick - those are attributes that Adams possesses and on the field, when the lights go on, he flashes them all.
Adams teamed with rookie lineman Ross Blacklock for one of the Lions two fumbles. I though initially Ross had punched the ball out of Lions running back Kerryon Johnson's hands and it was close. However. Adams seemed to get more credit for doing so. Regardless, it was great to see Blacklock make a couple of key plays for the Texans in the middle of the defense.
I can't overemphasize how fantastic receiver Brandin Cooks has been for this offense. He didn't have Fuller's numbers but he finished with five receptions on five targets for 85 yards. He was brilliant finding open spots all over the field in the Lions' zone coverage. One play that sticks out, though, was one in which Cooks ran a take off route on the right side of the formation. He was a decoy on the play but what I loved was that Cooks flew up the field so fast and explosively that the Lions had to respect it and covered him with two guys. That left Fuller V wide open for a significant catch. Cooks has been all that and then some for this football team.
I looked over on the sideline during the game at one point and Cooks was just working on his hands. He took the ball, flipped it in the air, snatched it and tucked it in. Simple stuff but it just showed Cooks is always working and I love seeing it.
Safety Justin Reid was, again, brilliant. These past two weeks have been the two best games in Reid's career. He'll be kicking himself, I'm sure, for not hanging onto Matt Stafford's arm punt/interception but other than that, Reid was fantastic. His numbers back up that claim - eight tackles, one sack (sacks in consecutive weeks), two quarterback hits and one TFL. I mentioned that to Andre Ware during the broadcast and Dre agreed wholeheartedly. He noted how free and loose Reid was playing the past two weeks. As I said, last week, controlled yet unleashed, that's the style that Reid has displayed the past two weeks.
I think I cheered loudest for linebacker Nate Hall's two sacks on consecutive plays than anything that happened at Ford Field. With a three touchdown lead, the Texans were able to get a ton of players on the field. Hall stepped in for Tyrell Adams and sacked Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford twice. What was impressive was the speed Hall displayed tracking Stafford down from behind for his second sack. Whooo weee, he was flying.
Many of y'all were worried about defensive lineman Charles Omenihu but rest assured, he's okay. It was a close call but he made it through okay. Enter crying laughing face emoji.
In all seriousness, Omenihu would love to get sacks and loves his sacks, no doubt. However, Omenihu did account for two of the eight quarterback hits on Stafford. That's going to pay off in due time, trust me.
Penalties were out of character for Romeo Crennel's squad but the Texans were able to overcome. I can't even remember a time when the Texans had ten penalties. I'm sure it happened but I just can't recall a time that it happened.
Well, it was another fun day, five days after another fun win over the Patriots. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend.