Houston Texans fans have had their fair share of reasonable gripes with the franchise and plenty of let-downs, as well, (some of them very recently), but Sunday’s game at NRG Stadium reminded fans that things could always be worse — you could be rooting for the Cleveland Browns.
With Sunday’s 33-17 loss, the Browns have now only won once in their past 23 games. They have countless draft busts to their name, and are the only franchise in the NFL with more strife at the quarterback position in recent years than the Texans.
On the other hand, Deshaun Watson (17-for-29, 225 yards, three touchdowns, one interception) on Sunday continued to look like the long-term answer at quarterback that the Texans have long sought after.
“It all starts with preparation,” Watson said. “Coming in on Mondays to correct the mistakes from the previous game, and then coming in on an off-day on Tuesday and getting on the same page with what the opposing team is trying to do. And then come in Wednesday and Thursday — the big, heavy days — and practicing like it’s game day. And if we do that and get on the same page and have a great week of preparation, then Sundays it makes it easier for us to execute.”
The perennially hapless Browns’ arrival on the schedule could not have been a more welcome sight for a Texans team that lost a lot more than just a football game last week, as their star pass rushers on defense, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, both went down with season-ending injuries against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s always about the next guy up,” Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who had two interceptions (including a pick-6), said. “When you say it, a lot of times people just laugh and say it’s a cliched thing to say, but in this league, when guys go down, you have no choice but to still go out and play the game. … Obviously, they’re not J.J. and Whitney, but I think we have enough guys on this team to pick up the slack.”
Even without their stars, the depleted Texans defense more than handled the Browns, holding them to 247 net yards of offense, just one offensive touchdown in garbage time, and forced three turnovers.
“I thought our defense was very opportunistic today, and I think that a lot of guys stepped up and played really hard,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said.
And, even with just table scraps on the offensive line, the Texans offense moved the ball with relative ease, racking up 340 total yards with Watson’s three TD passes accounting for all the offensive scores.
“He’s a very intelligent guy,” O’Brien said of Watson. “He’s really never satisfied. I’m not even sure how happy he is right now. I know he’s happy the team won, but the interception, those types of things. I know he’ll be in here tomorrow early trying to get better.”
For a promising team currently ailing, the Browns, followed by next week’s bye week, are just what the doctor ordered.
• Texas City native D’Onta Foreman was the Texans leading rusher in Sunday’s game, finishing with 59 yards on 12 carries, including a big 39-yard run to the Browns’ 2-yard line that helped set up the Texans’ second offensive touchdown of the game.
• Watson became the first rookie QB in the Super Bowl era to have three consecutive games with three or more touchdown passes. Watson’s 15 TD passes on the season tie him with Mark Rypien and Kurt Warner for the most for a quarterback through his first six career games.