Quarterback Deshaun Watson was in mid-season form as he led the Texans to a touchdown on their opening drive, and Houston went on to beat the Detroit Lions 30-23 in a pre-season game Saturday night at NRG Stadium.
Watson completed five of seven passes for 60-yards on the drive, hitting tight end Darren Fells for 13-yards, DeAndre Hopkins for 13-yards, DeAndre Carter for 12-yards and 18-yards, before finding Hopkins in the end zone on a 4-yard pass. Watson completed his only series of the game with a 136.9 quarterback rating, just short of a perfect rating of 157.
“It felt great to just be back out there on the field with the guys. Live action, back in front of the Houston Texans’ fans and feeling the energy of the stadium, the energy of the guys. Just trying to make plays and set the tone for the 2019-20 season. It felt really good, it felt comfortable, felt happy. Everyone was on the same page, operation was perfect, and we went down and got points,” Watson said.
Texans’ Head Coach Bill O’Brien was pleased with the opening drive.
“It was a good drive, an efficient drive. I thought we had good balance on that drive. I'm not sure how many plays it was, but the key was I believe no penalties and no sacks. It was a good, efficient drive,” O’Brien said. “You always want to start fast. If you can start fast like that, opening drive for a touchdown, that's a good deal for your team. You've got the ball with the toss there, with the coin toss, and they deferred, and we went down and scored, that was good. Good to see that.”
The rest of the game was a typical preseason game with plenty of penalties and plenty of reserves seeing action.
The Texans were whistled for nine penalties for 107 yards, while the Lions had eight penalties for 97 yards. The Lions also had three fumbles, losing one, while the Texans lost one fumble.
After Watson retired for the night, Joe Webb III took over and completed 14 of 25 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown. Eleven receivers caught passes during the game, led by DeAndre Carter and Steven Mitchell Jr. with three receptions each. Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect with field goals of 50, 27 and 39 yards and two extra points.
For the Lions, third string quarterback David Fales completed 12 of 19 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown. Fifteen receivers caught passes for the Lions, with Brandon Powell and Travis Fulgham each having three receptions.
“Obviously, we want to always try to win the game, want to be in front. I thought there were too many plays that cost us, situations where we didn’t really put ourselves in a chance to win there and put ourselves kind of behind the ball a little bit,” Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia said.
Both the Texans and the Lions kept many of their first teamers on the sidelines as JJ Watt, Will Fuller, Lamar Miller, Justin Reid, Johnathan Joseph and D.J. Reader did not play. The Lions did not play their top two quarterbacks, Matthew Stafford and former Texan Tom Savage. This gave the reserves their opportunity to earn a spot on the roster.
Several Texans caught the eye of Coach Bill O’Brien. Buddy Howell rushed 15 times for 84 yards and a touchdown in just the second half. Howell is in his second year, out of Florida Atlantic University.
“Buddy's a good player. He's a tough player, he's a good special teams’ player. He's been a productive player for us here on special teams, so he's done a good job. It was a good night for him tonight,” O’Brien said.
Wide Receiver Vyncint Smith made a great play on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Webb, getting both feet down in the right corner of the endzone.
“It was great to see Vyncint make the touchdown catch, make some plays tonight, played on special teams, it was good to see. Vyncint, he battles hard, he's a great kid and he's really competitive,” O’Brien said.
The Texans will play the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas on Saturday night.
9:32 Texans: DeAndre Hopkins 4-yard pass from Deshaun Watson. Ka’imi Fairbairn kick.
5:32 Texans: Fairbairn 50-yard field goal.
Houston 10 Detroit 0
10:58 Lions: Matt Prater 49-yard field goal.
7:45 Lions: Will Harris 19-yard fumble recovery. Prater kick.
0:48 Texans: Vyncint Smith 31-yard pass from Joe Webb III. Fairbairn kick.
Houston 17 Detroit 10
9:58 Texans: Fairbairn 27-yard field goal.
6:56 Lions: Zach Zenner 5-yard pass from David Fales. 2 point try failed.
Houston 20 Detroit 16
8:40 Texans: Buddy Howell 1-yard run. Fairbairn kick.
6:34 Lions: Mark Thompson 1-yard run. Ryan Santoso kick.
0:57 Texans: Fairbairn 39-yard field goal.
Houston 30 Detroit 23