HOUSTON – The Houston Texans failed their first test without injured quarterback Deshaun Watson, falling at home to the Indianapolis Colts 20-14. The loss dropped the Texans to 3-5 and all but ended any realistic playoff hopes.
Some Texans rose to the occasion while others wilted. Here’s who won and lost for Houston.
Winner: DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins played better than the stat sheet indicates. No. 10 caught just 6-of-16 targets, netting 86 yards. But two of his misses were spectacular grabs on errant throws that took him just out of bounds. One of those should have been overturned if Bill O’Brien challenged. Hopkins was the alpha receiver again, even without Watson. That’s exactly what the team needs from him.
Loser: Tom Savage
The quarterback summed up his own game more succinctly than anyone else when he said,
“I played like crap today.”
Well said, Tom . . .
Winner: Eddie Pleasant
Pleasant earned our player of the game honors for his two-sack effort. They were the first two sacks of his career, and the safety created Houston’s first touchdown by stripping the ball from Jacoby Brissett on the first one.
Loser: Left tackles
Julie’n Davenport was a surprise starter at left tackle, but it was pretty clear coach Bill O’Brien intended on getting Chris Clark and even Kendall Lamm some reps in the quest to take over Duane Brown’s old haunt.
Neither did enough in his rotations to seize the gig. Davenport got beaten badly on a few reps and notably struggled with extending his arms in pass protection. Lamm looked very much like a guy who got cut and subsequently went unclaimed.
Clark was the least terrible, but that’s akin to being the cutest skunk. He largely stunk as well but at least looked functional on the final two drives.
Winner: Shane Lechler
The venerable punter shook off a bad start to finish with another monster effort. Lechler launched several deep booms, averaging 49 yards on his eight punts. Five of those pinned the Colts inside their own 20 against just one touchback, which was one of those early flubs. His ability to control field position helped keep the Texans in the game on a day when the offense struggled.
Loser: Andre Hal
How Hal didn’t think to touch T.Y. Hilton as the Colts receiver laid on the ground with no whistle blown will remain a mystery. Hilton got up and scored after the safety’s lazy play. He’s played better as of late, but that is inexcusable.