Houston Texans Team Analyst John Harris shares his notes from the Texans Week 15 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hours after seeing Chiefs RB Jerick McKinnon scamper into the end zone with the game winning touchdown in overtime, I was still trying to gather all of my emotions and thoughts. That was one heck of a football game and just once I'd like to see the good guys come home with a win in a game of that nature. This year alone, the Texans…
Had a 17-point lead v. Colts, finished in a tie.
Led Broncos 9-6 starting the fourth
Tied with Bears starting the fourth
Trailed the Chargers by three with 8:30 in fourth
Trailed the Raiders by four with 11 minutes left in fourth
Trailed the Eagles by four starting the fourth
Trailed the Browns by six starting the fourth
Led the Cowboys by six starting the fourth
Led the Chiefs by five starting the fourth
…and finished with nine gut punch losses and one tie against the hated Colts. This one against the Chiefs, though, might have been the toughest one to take, given the opponent, the Texans' injury situation and the gut punch residue from the loss to the Cowboys one week prior. Regardless, here are my Harris Hits from the 30-24 OT loss to the Chiefs.
I know the Texans came out on the wrong end of the ledger but I love how this team has competed, especially in the last two weeks. Against Dallas, both starting WR were out, then the Texans lost DB Steven Nelson, G Kenyon Green and RB Dameon Pierce during that game. In this matchup, the Texans lost both starting corners, both starting WR, star RB, starting LG and an interior DL who starred in his first action as a Texan. Yet, YET, this squad battled its guts out on Sunday afternoon. It made a physical statement throughout the contest and that's what kept them in this game. The defense turned over the Chiefs twice on rock hard hits. The offense capitalized on those two takeaways with two touchdowns. The defense had a tremendous stop in overtime to force the Chiefs to punt after their opening possession. It was an effort that deserved a win, no doubt, and that's probably why it stings as much as it does hours after McKinnon sprinted into the end zone with the game winning touchdown. Honestly, I'm still upset, but not with the effort these Texans put forth against a Super Bowl contending squad.
The Texans tight ends had another game of scoring the only receiving touchdowns. Rookie Teagan Quitoriano ran a brilliant route to get open in the red zone near the end of the first quarter for his touchdown. It was a play that the Chiefs ran against the Texans way back in 2015 with Travis Kelce. Later in the game, Jordan Akins made one heck of a play to score a touchdown on a key third down play. The Texans trailed Kansas City by two 16-14 but Akins snagged a Davis Mills pass and fought into the end zone to take the lead at the end of the third quarter.
I'll say this for the Texans, they physically put opponents through the ringer. Chiefs ball carriers and QB Patrick Mahomes flew home beat up a bit more than they expected. Mahomes took a couple of really hard hits during the game, including one in which Maliek Collins treated him like a throw rug after Mahomes dropped a shotgun snap.
DB Jalen Pitre was called for a penalty for making contact with Juju Smith-Schuster in the first half and Pitre absolutely put a charge into the Chiefs' pass catcher. That hit, though, seemed to have an impact on the Texans defense as they truly amped up the physical nature of the game from that point forward.
After that Pitre hit, DL Mario Addison blasted rookie RB Isiah Pacheco on an inside run play which popped the ball out. Desmond King II picked up the ball for the Texans and QB Davis Mills made it pay off with a scramble TD a few plays later.
If those two hits weren't the hardest hits of the day, the hardest hit may have belonged to DB Tremon Smith. Mahomes hit Smith-Schuster out in the right flat and Smith was Johnny on the spot. As soon as he made impact, he lodged the ball loose and as Smith-Schuster hit the ground, it squirted completely loose. Texans rookie LB Jake Hansen recovered the ball, which was eventually given to the Texans after replay review. Smith rocked Smith-Schuster with all he had.
Texans LB Christian Harris has taken his game to a different level each and every week since coming back from a hamstring injury. The first two or three games it seemed he was shaking off the rust from a long layoff, but today was an indication that the rust is ALL gone. He was all over the field, finishing with 14 tackles and three tackles for a loss. His speed is so evident and it allows him to make impact plays behind the line of scrimmage throughout the game.
The Texans finished with two sacks of Patrick Mahomes but because Mahomes dropped a shotgun snap, Maliek Collins was robbed of what should have been a third sack. He beat the Chiefs right side of the formation and snatched Mahomes, sending him hard into the turf for the tackle for a loss. Should've been a sack but rules say no. I say rules/schmules, I'm giving Maliek a pseudo sack.
On the flip side, the Texans had to reconfigure the offensive line with starting LG Kenyon Green sitting out due to an ankle injury. They moved Tytus Howard into left guard and the Texans gave up no "REAL" sacks for the third week in a row. Chiefs DL Frank Clark was credited with a sack when QB Jeff Driskel ran out of bounds four yards behind the line of scrimmage as he tried to find a receiver and couldn't. That was it. That was the only sack and it wasn't even a sack.
The Chiefs outgained the Texans by nearly 300 yards, but the Texans actually got into the red zone four times compared to the Chiefs three times. I'm not sure how that all computes, honestly, because this was a weird game from that perspective. Mahomes threw 41 times and completed 36 of those, including 20 in a row to finish the game. Yet, the Texans had the ball, needing to just kick one field goal to win in overtime.
QB Davis Mills scored the first rushing TD of his career in the second quarter. Following a Mario Addison forced fumble/Desmond King II fumble recovery, Mills dropped to throw and found no one open. When he darted outside of the Chiefs contain rushers, there was NO ONE anywhere near him out to his left. So, he took off for the end zone and made it for a 17-yard touchdown run, the Texans 2nd longest TD run of the season. Only Dameon Pierce's 75-yard touchdown run against the Chargers was longer than Mills rushing TD.
I don't know where this loss to Kansas City ranks in the Gut Punch annals, but the last five years have produced way too many against really good teams
2017 - @ New England - Brady'd late in the game
2017 - @ Seattle - Russell Wilson late TD pass in a BRILLIANT football game
2018 - @ Philadelphia - Foles, ugh, late after Texans comeback
2019 - @ New Orleans - Wil Lutz from 58-yards on MNF FTW.
2020 - @ Tennessee OT - 43-37, A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry.
2020 - Indianapolis - botched snap from the three yard line
2020 - @ Indianapolis - fumbled at the two down seven
2020 - Tennessee - doinked FG at the buzzer beat Texans
2021 - New England - the botched punt? That started a huge Pats comeback.
2022 - See above…all of them.
I didn't even mention the playoff loss to Kansas City, affectionately known as just 24-0. At some point, it's going to turn around and the Texans will win these games, leaving these games in the rearview forever. But, until that happens, it feels like a loss of this magnitude is just another log on the fire.
Alright, I can't stomach too much more and your author is a bit weary from the day's proceedings.
Browse photos from the Texans, Chiefs Week 15 matchup.