Vandermeer’s View: AFC South stress test

The first two games for the Texans have gone down to the wire and the contrast between the two is a great example of how week-to-week life in the league really is.

Monday was a roller coaster thriller with an unhappy ending. The offense was often rolling, especially at the end. Sunday’s AFC South (and home) opener was a tight, low-scoring pressure cooker that required a two-point conversion stop to seal the deal.

Houston’s defense stepped up all day, but Jacksonville’s defense made sure there was virtually no margin for error. That left the Texans needing to put up a wall on a two-point try at the moment of truth or we’re likely digesting an 0-2 start.

A big positive is the Texans run game, which racked up 126 yards and Deshaun Watson not needing to do much in helping the total. But he did account for the only Texans TD on a nifty two-yard run, capping a takeaway-created 11-yard drive.

Watson threw for 159 yards as big plays in the passing game were hard to come by against a determined Jaguar defense.

Jacksonville ran for over 100 yards, with the bulk of it coming from scrambles from rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, who was clutch on the final two drives, bringing the Jags back from a 10-point deficit to cut the lead to one.

Doug Marrone decided that going for two was better than forcing overtime. Had the Jaguars made it, Houston would have had 30 seconds and one time out to try to work into field goal range for the win.

Whitney Mercilus had another big game with two sacks and J.J. Watt had a high-degree-of-difficulty fumble recovery off of one of them to help set up Watson’s touchdown.

This was not a masterpiece, but each win is a building block and it was crucial to get the first one. The Titans and Colts played a low-scoring game themselves in Nashville with Indy coming out on top and leaving the division with a three-way tie for first.

It’s too early to draw too many conclusions on what the future holds. It’s clear the Texans can run the ball. This will serve them well heading into a stretch that includes trying to keep the ball away from Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Patrick Mahomes.

The passing game will continue to look to expand the big play portfolio and the defense rebounded well on a short week after giving up 30 points at New Orleans. Now, the Texans will take aim at a Chargers team with a lot of weapons as they venture to the west coast.

Houston Texans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium for the second game of the 2019 NFL season.

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