Vandermeer’s View: Gut check victory

We should remember this 27-24 win over the Raiders for a while.

And not because of overcoming injuries, although that’s obviously part of it.

Because the Houston Texans are relentless in their pursuit of getting to the finish line victorious. Because they came up with clutch plays on both sides of the ball on their way to a win Sunday and really for most of the season, on their way to a 5-3 record.

No one said it was going to be easy. If you thought the Raiders wouldn’t be an extremely tough out you weren’t paying attention to the fact that they beat Indy on the road and they possess the highest completion percentage in the league. And they have a stellar young running back.

The Texans didn’t get out of the gate the way they wanted. They found themselves on the wrong end of a 14-7 score fairly late in the first half before cutting the lead to four on a Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal.

Then, out of the locker room, another drive ended in a Fairbairn kick. They were right there. But Derek Carr, playing back in this building for the first time since a 2004 halftime mascot bowl, threw his third score of the game and time was running out to respond.

Deshaun Watson would not be denied. He and DeAndre Hopkins and his fellow pass catchers started to make hay. Carlos Hyde got hot. And Watson threw a touchdown to Darren Fells to cut the lead to one again.

After the defense got off the field, forcing another field goal, the offense went right back to work and got the ball in scoring range again. Watson orchestrated yet another miraculous escape to hit Fells again as the Texans took the lead for the first time all afternoon.

Then, the defense stood up again. The fact that they made the big stops in the second half with a quickly reconstructed secondary and without J.J. Watt speaks volumes of the drive of this group. And the offense had plenty of adversity to work through, executing in crunch time with offensive tackles who were not with the team two weeks ago.

Like the Kansas City game, the Texans were able to kill the clock. Watson hit Fells on a don’t-try-this-at-home throw across his body for a first down with two minutes to go. Three kneel-downs later, the Texans were 5-3.

There’s plenty to work on. The injury report could be scary. But the locker room is filled with resilient players who will take the trip to London this week to engage in a huge division game with Jacksonville.

Houston Texans take on the Oakland Raiders at NRG Stadium for the eighth game of the 2019 NFL season.

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