Houston Texans Team Analyst John Harris shares his notes from the Texans Week 10 game against the Giants.
It was a beautiful afternoon in East Rutherford, NJ until the Texans walked out of MetLife with a loss to the 7-2 New York Giants. This one was similar to nearly every loss this year - play hard, compete in a close game but not enough in the end to finish with a win. Here are my Harris Hits from the 24-16 loss to the New York Giants.
I don't normally start with a run through the game book but one number really stood out to me as I sifted through the statistical wreckage from the afternoon's proceedings.
The Texans got into the red zone SIX times. I saw every single play in the game and had you asked me after the game how many times the Texans got into the red zone, I'd have said three, maybe four times. Nope, six times. They got into the red zone on every single second half possession. Here's the other number that stood out.
The Texans scored just one touchdown in those six red zone trips and that was one of the major differences in an eight point loss. Here were the five SECOND HALF drive results.
1st - Touchdown
2nd - Fumble
3rd - Interception
4th - Field Goal
5th - Field Goal
Just 13 points on five trips to the red zone in the second half. Even if the Texans kicked four field goals on the final four drives, this is a two point game that then changes how the rest of the game is played over the last five minutes in the fourth quarter. But, two turnovers on the first two fourth quarter drives were devastating in the pursuit of a W.
Yes, the Texans were their own worst enemy on those two early drives in the fourth quarter, but they got a lot of help from Giants DT Dexter Lawrence II. Man, I can't even begin to describe how good he was on Sunday. I wrote this in my Know Your Foe article this week - Lawrence can wreck the game. Quickly and thoroughly. He had one sack. He had FIVE QB hits. He hit Davis Mills as Mills threw the interception to Dane Belton in the end zone. He bent over backward nearly everyone on the Texans front. It was impressive to say the least, All-Pro impressive, if I'm being truly honest.
It was great to get WR Nico Collins back for this Texans offense. He didn't put up gargantuan numbers but it's the fact that he comes up with a catch whenever the Texans need one. In basketball, he'd be a bucket. When the offense needs a bucket, that guy can go get one. Collins is a bucket as a receiving option. He scored a touchdown on a brilliant route down in the red zone. It was the first trip into the red zone in the second half as the Texans trailed 14-3. The Texans moved down to the seven yard line, but they were called for a delay of game. That moved the ball back to the 12 yard line but it meant more room for Collins to work. Against former Texans DB Fabian Moreau, Collins ran a slant and go and when he WENT, he flew by Moreau, beating him by a couple of yards into the back of the end zone. QB Davis Mills lofted one to the back end of the end zone and Collins ripped it down like a rebound for a touchdown that cut the lead to 14-10. It was Collins' first game back after a groin injury suffered at Las Vegas, so there's more in his arsenal that we are all ready to see over the final eight games of the 2022 season.
For years, Marc, Andre and I have talked about the lack of success for the Texans with screens, but Sunday was a masterclass for the Texans offense on all types of screens. It needed to be, as well, because the Giants brought the funk all day long. Their ferocious rush dictated the use of screens and the Texans made them pay off.
The best screen, arguably, was a TE screen to Jordan Akins in the third quarter. The best screen is one that looks that close to disaster but then the ball is flipped out to a pass catcher and it breaks wide open. That was EXACTLY what happened on that 46-yard screen. Akins got just enough of the edge blitzer and turned just in time to take Davis Mills' short toss to take off down the field. He got a great block from OL Laremy Tunsil and beat feet all the way down to the nine yard line. Akins continues to make key plays when the Texans absolutely need it.
WR Chris Moore had three catches and one of those was on a similar screen to the one that he caught against Philadelphia. He's got tremendous speed and when he got loose behind the D front, in front of the LB with blockers, he hit the gas and took off. The bigger catch he made, though, was off a tipped ball on a key play on the Texans first drive of the second half. On a 2nd and one, he ran down the seam and Mills fired for #15. Giants LB Micah McFadden got his hand on the ball but couldn't reel it in and Moore's eye-hand coordination won out. He adjusted to the new flight of the ball and reeled it in for 23 yards and another first down. Collins' touchdown catch came at the end of that drive but it wouldn't have happened without Moore's tremendous snag in the middle of the field.
No one hated seeing RB Dameon Pierce fumble in the red zone more than Pierce himself, but that guy got the entire offense rolling in the second quarter. How bad was it going for the Texans offense early in the game? The Texans' first quarter offensive output was minus three yards. Yes, MINUS THREE YARDS. However, on the first drive of the second quarter, Pierce sliced through the Giants as he's done all season long. The first three runs/first three plays of that drive
Pierce - 12 yards
Pierce - 5 yards
Pierce - 44 yards
The Texans offensive line took advantage of Lawrence taking a break and dominated on those three plays, in particular, the GT counter out of shotgun, the same one the Texans ran against Philadelphia for Pierce's 36-yard gain in that game. He ran for 97 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and had two catches for 28 yards, yes, one of those on a screen. 125 yards on 19 touches - nearly 6.6 yards per touch.
Giants RB Saquon Barkley was all that and then some. Finally fully healthy, he IS the Giants offense but got some help from some key plays for the Giants. The one thing that the Texans defense could take some solace in was that they did hold him to under 4.5 yards per carry - 152 yards on 35 carries. Barkley's chunk runs that he piled up during the day were the biggest issue for the defense on the day.
One guy who really added to the defense, impactful for truly the first time this season, was DL Ogbo Okoronkwo. He was a demon setting the edge and tracking down Barkley and ball carriers from the backside. He finished with a pair of TFLs and seven tackles on the day. That's the type of play the Texans defense has needed from the edge this year. He's built more like a thriving pass rusher, but he used his quickness and agility to be a major factor on a number of run stuffs for this Texans defense.
Another Texan defender who caught my attention was rookie LB Christian Harris. He hit Saquon Barkley early in the game and I'm telling you I heard it. Now, consider the fact that I have headphones on with our broadcast going and I have my volume on full blast in places like MetLife Stadium. I heard it. He finished with nine tackles, second on the team behind DB Jonathan Owens. There's certainly progress with the four games that Harris has played this year. He's quicker to the ball. He's seeing things better. He made a play on a Saquon Barkley run that was just, wow, in the third quarter. The Giants tried to get Barkley out wide on a counter or power run. Either way, there was a pulling guard in front of Barkley. Harris gave up his body, actually running through the guard, forcing Barkley to hold up and nearly almost stop. Then, the pursuit followed Harris to shut that run down for just a yard. He didn't get a tackle on that play, but he absolutely MADE the play.
I mentioned the screens that were successful on the day and Jordan Akins' involvement in said screens. But, I want to mention Akins for his continued ability to turn a catch into a chunk play nearly every time he gets hands on the ball. Every single week since he's been back in Houston, he's made a big play for a first down, a touchdown or a big play (20+ yards). When it comes to boomerangs, there aren't many and there are fewere that actually work out. Former S Quentin Demps was the best one that came to mind and Akins is doing his best Demps imitation, for certain, in 2022.
One boomerang of a different kind is DL Jerry Hughes. He never played for the Texans prior to 2022, but he's a Houstonian returning to his home city late in his career. That said, he's taken his game to a different level. He picked up another sack of QB Daniel Jones to give him eight sacks through nine games. He had 2.0 last year in Buffalo but, from day one, he's been taking over games off the edge. That sack was his fourth in three games since the loss at Las Vegas. Number 55 has been the best player on the defensive side of the ball this season.
Alright, that's going to do it for our trip to New York/New Jersey. On to the next one, let's GO!
Browse tickets for the next home game vs. the Washington Commanders.
Browse photos from the Texans, Giants Week 10 matchup.