Houston didn’t earn any style points during their 27-20 win over the Titans on Sunday. They were fortunate enough just to earn the victory. It wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the day, the Texans are 3-1 and in the AFC South driver’s seat. This was a game that Houston sorely needed after being shut out 27-0 in their previous contest in New England.
Rookie wide receiver Will Fuller again showed why the Texans picked him in the first round. He finished the game with 81 receiving yards and a score. But more importantly, he returned a punt 67 yards for another touchdown, which would prove to be decisive.
It was Fuller’s first punt return in the NFL, and something he almost never did in college. On the season he has 19 catches, 323 yards, and 2 touchdowns (also the punt return touchdown.) Fuller is averaging 17 yards per catch. The kid is a game changer.
The Texans were without J.J. Watt for the first time since he entered the league in 2011. His absence was clearly felt as the defense had a difficult time stopping Tennessee’s rushing attack led by DeMarco Murray. After giving up 17 first quarter half points however, the Texans tightened things up. They held the Titans to just 3 second half points and were much more effective in getting after Marcus Mariota and limiting Murray.
Fuller may have been the star of the game, but tight ends C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin definitely did their part. Fiedorowicz had his best game as a pro, finishing with 4 catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. Griffin added 3 for 54. On a day where DeAndre Hopkins was held to just one catch, Fuller and the tight ends came up really big. Running back Lamar Miller also turned in a very solid performance as he chipped in 108 total yards.
Quarterback Brock Osweiler turned in a very uneven effort once again. He threw for 254 yards and two first half touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions. Both picks were poorly thrown balls to Hopkins, and he now has 6 on the season. The offensive line needs to do a better job up front, but Osweiler simply has to make better decisions with the ball.
Houston travels to Minnesota to take on the Vikings this Sunday. The Vikings, who are 3-0, play the Giants tonight on MNF. Minnesota boasts one of the toughest defenses in the league. The are the leaders in turnover margin and sacked Cam Newton 8 times in their last game. This is going to be a very difficult test for the Houston offense.
The Texans hope to have left tackle Duane Brown back, which will be a big boost for the offensive line. They are also counting on receiver Braxton Miller and tight end Stephen Anderson returning from injuries. The Vikings offense is without Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson. They struggle to run the ball, but Sam Bradford has proven to be very efficient through the air. His main targets are Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph.
I will do a more complete preview of the game in the coming days.