After not registering a takeaway in the first four games, the Houston Texans’ defense recovered two fumbles in the second half and held their opponents under 100 yards rushing for the first time this season to help secure a 30-14 win Sunday afternoon over the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium to check into the win column for the first time this season.
“We had a lot of fun today,” Houston defensive end J.J. Watt said. “Offense, defense, special teams; everybody pitched in. Whenever something went wrong, the other group was ready to step up and make a play to make it right. Nobody hung their heads. Everybody was ready to roll, had great energy. I thought the fans were great, had a great vibe from the fans. It was just a lot of fun. For Romeo (Crennel), seeing his dance moves in the locker room after the game were a real treat.”
On the other side of the ball, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson compiled 359 yards on 25-of-35 passing with three touchdowns to three receivers and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 109.1. Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn hit field goals of 36, 33 and 46 yards to give the Texans’ offense a 30-point game for the first time since the 31-24 win in Kansas City on Oct. 13, 2019.
“I know Cooky (wide receiver Brandin Cooks) didn't have a catch last week so we wanted to get him going early. He had a big day, made some big-time catches,” Watson said. “That's what we wanted to do, just kind of set the tone from the jump and get myself in a rhythm because as far as I go, the offense goes. We, of course, wanted to establish the run as much as possible, but if the passing was working, we want to continue to do that to get those guys to soften up a little bit.”
Cooks finished with eight catches for 161 yards and a touchdown where he recorded 100-plus yards and a score for the first time since 2018. After the game, Cooks talked about the timing and relationship developing between Watson, he and the other receivers as well.
“It feels good from the overall standpoint of the offense, going out there and playing complementary football when we had the chance,” he said. “Blessed from that standpoint and just getting everybody going; at the end of the day when you do that, it seemed like everything clicked. For me personally, I'm just thankful. Deshaun was throwing great passes today, o-line was blocking well, running backs, as well. It takes a collective effort, and so I'm just thankful from that standpoint.”
Sunday was the first action for interim head coach Romeo Crennel who was promoted from associate head coaching duties following the firing of head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien earlier in the week. The victory made Crennel the oldest head coach to earn a win in NFL history (73 years and 115 days) and moved his interim record to 3-1 in his 38th season coaching at the NFL level.
“The win was huge,” Crennel said. “Particularly the way that we started the season, not winning a game out of four, and then being able to come here at home, play a tough game and hang in there. All phases made a contribution to the victory, and then we had several players who stepped up and did very well. The quarterback played well. The receivers played well. The runners were able to run. The line blocked. Defensively, I think we were under 100 yards rushing for the first time this season and got some turnovers, which we hadn't been getting. So all of those things combined help us win the game.”
Jacksonville took a 7-3 lead in the second quarter but could not reclaim the advantage despite 301 yards passing on 31 completions from quarterback Gardner Minshew II and 48 yards on 13 carries for running back James Robinson. Collin Johnson and Keelan Cole, Sr. caught touchdown passes from Minshew II but kicker Stephen Hauschka missed 24- and 49-yard attempts in the second quarter although the quarterback knew those weren’t the points the Jaguars really wanted.
“Well, the only reason we are kicking those field goals is because we didn't execute in the red zone,” Minshew said. “So that's more on us as an offense than special teams. We want to be one of the best in the league in the red zone and we’ve got to earn that week-in, week-out, and we didn't do that today.”
Houston receiver Will Fuller V and tight end Darren Fells were also on the receiving end of Watson touchdown passes, running back David Johnson led the team with 96 yards rushing and linebackers Tyrell Adams and Zach Cunningham both had double-digit tackles with 13 and 10 total, respectively.
Next Sunday, the Texans are scheduled to travel to Tennessee for another AFC South tilt with the Titans who have had a COVID-19 outbreak in their facility and haven’t played since Sept. 27. Tennessee is scheduled to play the Buffalo Bills this Tuesday although the league is still evaluating the contest.