A year ago, the Houston Texans finished third overall on total defense. This season, after two games, they are again in that same position. Houston has surrendered just 274.5 yards per game, notching 9 sacks, 4 turnovers, and giving up only one touchdown. Yesterday they were the difference in a hard fought 17-12 victory over the Chiefs.
The Texans sacked Alex Smith 4 times, forced three turnovers, and held the Chiefs to just 4 field goals. This less than a year removed from a brutal 30-0 defeat at the hands of Kansas City in last year’s playoffs. It’s clearly evident that this is a much different Houston team. As a matter of fact, no other team in the league has completed such a drastic offensive makeover.
While the defense was busy harassing Alex Smith, the offense was doing just enough to secure the victory. Brock Osweiler overcame a couple of interceptions to throw for 268 yards and the game’s lone touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins battled pro bowl corner Marcus Peters all game long, finally finishing with 7 catches, 113 yards, and a score. Rookie Will Fuller continued his stellar play with 4 catches for 104 yards. Lamar Miller ran for 88 yards and Nick Novak kicked 4 field goals.
But the story of the game was clearly Houston’s defensive dominance. The Texans got 1.5 sacks each from J.J. Watt and John Simon. Inside linebacker Bernardrick McKinney added another. Simon, A.J. Bouye, and Quintin Demps all forced fumbles that were recovered by Houston. Watt, Clowney, Simon, and Mercilus were disruptive all game long and McKinney was a stalwart playing without Brian Cushing at his side.
This was a big victory for the Texans after losing twice to the Chiefs a year ago. They now must place their focus squarely on the New England Patriots, whom they will face on Thursday night. The Texans have had virtually no success against the Pats, usually getting blown out. This game is interesting for several reasons. First of all, it is on a short week, leaving both teams with less than normal preparation time.
Also, the Patriots, already without Tom Brady, now may be starting rookie Jacoby Brissett. Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a sprained shoulder, and it’s unlikely he will be able to go. However, Gronk will probably be back after missing two games, and Martellus Bennett adds another big receiving threat at tight end.
If Houston is finally going to get the monkey off their back, this would be the week to do it. The Patriots are short-handed and Houston is very healthy and playing well. However, as we’ve learned time and time again, one can never underestimate the genius of Bill Belichick and his ability to prepare his team for all situations.
This should be a very exciting game. I will check back in a few days with my preview and predictions.