The Texans' run of matchups with some of the best teams in the league continued on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, tied for the NFL's best record at 7-1. Since Davis Mills stepped into the starting role, the Texans have faced the 5-2 Buffalo Bills, the 4-4 New England Patriots, the 7-1 Arizona Cardinals and the 7-1 Los Angeles Rams. The six teams Mills has started against have a combined 30-16, if my math is correct (did that complex addition all in my head at about 5 a.m.). As such, Sunday's matchup with the Rams went south in a hurry, but the last 15 minutes of the game went in a completely different direction than I, or anyone else, really expected. Here are my Harris Hits from the 38-22 loss to the Rams:
The last two games in NRG Stadium have gone in totally different directions, but check these numbers. Rookie Davis Mills had nearly identical stats in the last two games at home - 312 yards, three tuddies and 22 points scored against New England in Week 5, 310 yards, three tuddies and 22 points scored against the Rams on Sunday. Those two games couldn't have been any different and two yards are all that separates Mills' two performances. It's like we left from the same spot, headed for downtown. We went I-10 one way and then took the beltway to 59 and still got to the same exact spot. Same exact thing, really.
Coach David Culley told me at halftime that he wanted to give the offense a kick start by going up-tempo a bit with Mills. However, the Rams didn't allow the Texans offense the opportunity to get a first down in the third quarter to get any tempo at all. By the fourth quarter, though, the Texans got things roaring, going faster than they had all year. Mills then led the offense to 22 points in the fourth quarter and, with a few more minutes on the clock, could've put up even more.
I spoke with DL Jon Greenard after the game and, for as rough a day as it was, his sack seemed to give the team some life. From his sack on to the end of the game, the Texans started playing serious ball. It was just a few quarters too late against one of the most explosive offenses in the league. That said, hopefully, it was a wake up call before the Texans head down to take on Miami next Sunday, the last game before the team's Bye Week.
Rookie TE Brevin Jordan was active for the first time in his career and finished the day with three catches for 41 yards and his first touchdown. It was also the second touchdown catch for a Texans TE in the 2021 season (Antony Auclair had the first against the Patriots in Week 5). I love seeing rookies grow, mature and then contribute. As such, it was a solid first effort and hopefully there's more to come with Jordan.
In that New England game, WR Chris Conley caught the flea-flicker pass from Davis Mills with 13:31 in the third quarter. That was the last touchdown the Texans scored this season until RB Rex Burkhead powered in from one yard out with 8:08 in the fourth quarter. That means the Texans went nearly 200 game minutes without scoring a touchdown. Hopefully, the drought is now over and never to be seen again.
The defense won't have much to watch on film and feel great about early in the game, but they really had no help from the offense through the first three quarters. After a six-play opening offensive drive ended in a punt, the Texans had eight series over the next two quarters plus in which no drive was more than four plays. In fact, there were six three-and-out drives. The Texans three drives in the third quarter went for -3, -9 and -7 yards. Prior to the first touchdown drive of the fourth quarter, the Texans lost 14 yards on four second half drives. Then, the offense found fifth gear and went on a 60-yard drive (ended in a TD), a 62-yard drive (ended in a TD), a 50-yard drive (ended in a TD) and 73-yard drive (ended at the LA 25-yard line when the clock ran out). The turnaround was just unbelievable, in all honesty.
The onside kick execution was a thing of perfection. K Kai'mi Fairbairn couldn't have hit a better kick that bounced at the exact time that sure handed Rams WR Robert Woods attempted to field the kick. As they say in baseball, he got caught on an in-between hop and the ball kicked over to Texans WR Chris Moore for the recovery. I mean, that kick is drawn up that exact way and teams practice it ALL of the time. It just never gets executed that beautifully in a game. As such, it led to a quick Texans score.
That score came courtesy of Brandin Cooks. On the play prior to Brandin's 45-yard bomb touchdown, he caught a curl route on Rams CB Dont'e Deayon, who made the tackle. When they unpiled, Cooks got up and hugged Deayon, two former teammates reuniting, so to speak. Then, on the very next play, Cooks absolutely roasted the former Hard Knocks hero on the go route down the sideline. Mills threw perhaps the best ball he's thrown all season long for the touchdown. It was like Cooks gave Deayon the 'ol okey doke. He lured Deayon in, so to speak, probably spoke some nice things in his ear, softened him up a bit and then blew past him on the next play. Love it.
Alright, I'm still not really happy about the entire day and I'm a bit confused as to how to feel. The first 45 minutes were about as dreadful as they could've been, but the last 15 minutes showed the fight and aptitude that I knew this team had. What I HOPE is that those final 15 minutes will be motivation for the rest of the season. Those that step on the field will play with urgency, smarts, passion and toughness. Those that don't will not be part of the mission, so to speak. Time to start prepping for Miami next week - see ya' then, 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 Houston Texans Week 8 matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.