Now, that was much more fun on Sunday than last week in Atlanta, right?
So, let's dive into some big plays from the 20-13 win over the Saints.
1st Quarter - Texans ball
2nd and ten
The Texans started a drive on their second possession of the game, getting into Saints territory after Saints K Blake Grupe missed a long field goal. Once they got to the 38-yard line, they faced a second down and ten. They put 12/21 personnel in the game, depending on how you want to classify Andrew Beck. He was offset behind QB C.J. Stroud, in front of RB Dameon Pierce. They then put two receivers to the right side, the wide side of the field. Stroud put WR Noah Brown in motion into a near stack alignment with WR Nico Collins. Stroud got a man-to-man read with Brown matched on CB Marshon Lattimore. Brown ran a deep over route and got two to three yards of separation as he crossed the field. After a play action fake to RB Devin Singletary, Stroud threw a DART to Brown as the Texans rookie QB took a hit from a Saints pass rusher. He put the ball right on Noah for a big first down and a 34-yard gain. That was a great route and great throw to get the Texans down inside the five yard line.
1st Quarter - Texans ball
2nd and goal
+1 yard line
On the play prior, rookie WR Xavier Hutchinson nearly had a touchdown on a wide zone sweep, so the Texans faced a 2nd and goal from the one yard line. They put three TEs on the field and ran one of the staple short yardage plays in everyone's system. They put one TE Teagan Quitoriano to the left side, then put TE Dalton Schultz on the right with TE Brevin Jordan in a winged position near Schultz. FB Andrew Beck lined up in the I formation with Dameon Pierce dotting the I. So, HEAVY run look. Jordan started in motion one direction, then back to the right side. Stroud faked into Pierce's belly, giving a lead run look. Schultz then escaped to the back of the end zone, while Beck ran a flat route to the goal line. The Saints got caught watching Pierce and that was all Schultz needed on the Saints' safeties. He had a step and Stroud lofted one to the corner of the end zone where Schultz reached up and SNATCHED it for the TD. Man, Schultz VICE GRIPPED that ball for a huge score to start the day.
4th Quarter - Saints' ball
4th and three
+14 yard line
Texans ahead 20-13
On the play prior, Texans DT Maliek Collins, S Jimmie Ward and LB Blake Cashman hammered Saints RB Alvin Kamara on a draw play for a one yard loss. Saints QB Derek Carr saw the Texans in a nickel alignment and checked to a draw but the Texans drilled him in the backfield.. So, on 4th and four and the game on the line, the Saints came out in 10 personnel, putting three receivers to the left side, Kamara in the backfield and WR Michael Thomas to the right side. The Texans showed man coverage, but transitioned to a Tampa two coverage. Not sure if Carr noticed it or not because he threw out to Kamara in the right flat, where CB Shaq Griffin was waiting. That's still not a bad move, though, because it's the Saints best offensive weapon with the ball in his hands. But, Griffin got some help from the heat seeking missile that was Cashman. Kamara sprinted for the marker and Griffin grabbed Kamara's ankles. It looked like Kamara was nearly about to break out when Cashman hit Kamara with all he had…two yards short of the marker. The celebration was worth it - the sideline went crazy and for good reason.
Side note - Blake Cashman was as good today as I've seen a Texans linebacker - that was one heck of a play to give the ball back to the offense.
Final four plays for the defense :35 seconds left in the game
1. 1st down and ten - Carr throws incomplete - Shaq Griffin only player near the ball
2. 2nd down and ten - DeMeco and Matt Burke brought the pressure. Texans DE Jonathan Greenard got right in Carr's face which caused the out of bounds throw in the direction of Texans DB Steven Nelson
3. 3rd down and ten - More pressure from depth and Ward locked up Saints WR Rashid Shaheed on a deep throw that wasn't even close.
4. 4th down and ten - Again, more pressure which forced an INT into the arms of Steven Nelson. The Texans rushed Carr from all over the place and Cashman hit Carr's arm as he threw, which forced the throw to be short and into Nelson's arms.
What a performance from the exhausted defense to finish it!!