The NFL schedule maker is not giving the Houston Texans any leeway early in the season, as they must turn the page quickly from their 34-20 loss to the Chiefs in the season opener to their Week 2 home opener against the next best team in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens. We will get into the nuances of that match-up later in the week, but for now, the autopsy remains to be done on the disappointing season opener.
For his part, O'Brien has tried to put a middle happy face on an infuriatingly inept performance Thursday night. From his press conference on Monday:
"I think you learn a lot in the first game, especially this one. Obviously, there were some good things in the game. Obviously, not enough. There were a lot of things to build on, but at the end ion the day, when you look at the game, there were 20 missed tackles. There was too much inconsistency on offense. Special teams was okay. We just need to really have a great week, have a great day today, have a great Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and be ready to go."
In reviewing the film from Thursday, like with any game, there were several plays that put the Texans in the eventual 31-7 hole that they slightly dug out from before losing by double digits. Here are ten plays that either NEEDED to go differently and/or embodied the Texans' ineptitude and lack of fight on Thursday night:
Will Fuller early dropped deep ball
2nd-5 at HOU 30, 14:26 left in 1Q
This was the second play from scrimmage for the Texans, and encapsulated every bad narrative about a bunch of things. First, it was a back shoulder toss into some traffic, the perfect time to throw the ball to DeAndre Hopkins. Unfortunately, he is busy getting 14 catches per game in Arizona. Instead, it was to the "new number one WR" Will Fuller, who promptly let the ball bounce off his hands, conjuring up every Will Fuller critique from the time he was drafted. Things started getting ominous early.
Anthony Sherman converts 4th and 1
4th-1 at KC 30, 3:00 left in 1Q
This was a chance for the Texans to seize some momentum and "break serve" early in this game. The Chiefs got to a 2nd and 3 at their own 28 yard line, and after two nice run stops, the second of which was a twisting combined effort from Zach Cunningham and Eric Murray, the Texans had a chance to get the ball into the hands of their offense in plus territory. Unfortunately, Anthony "The Sausage" Sherman kept the drive going and ultimately, the Chiefs would tie the game (and go on to score 31 unanswered points).
O'Brien chooses to punt
4th-4 at 50, 11:37 left in 2Q
When you're in a dogfight with a far superior opponent, you need to do some calculated, high variance things in order to win the game. I thought going for the first down here made sense, considering the Chiefs were probably going to drive down the field, whether it was 50 yards or 91 yards that they needed to score. As it turns out, I was right. I think there's a chance O'Brien may have gone for it here had he not made the horrendous decision to fake punt from his own territory in the playoff game in the same stadium eight months ago.
Fairbairn misses wide right from 51 yards
4th-10 at KC 33, 0:30 left in 2Q
Horrible end of half sequence. The Texans had a chance to cut the Chiefs lead to four. Instead, a Fairbairn miss gave the Chiefs the ball with 25 seconds left in the half. That's all they needed.....
Harrison Butker 29 yard FG
1st-10 at HOU 11, 0:00 left in 2Q
.... to expand their lead to double digits. Considering they were starting the second half with the ball, this was the sequence that essentially made this "game over."
Clyde Edwards-Halire 27 yard TD run
2nd-3 at HOU 27, 10:53 left in 3Q
If the field goal was the harbinger, this was the kill shot. Missed tackles by Bernardrick McKinney, who was dreadful in this game, and Justin Reid, who wasn't much better, allowed Edwards-Helaire to waltz into the end zone.
Frank Clark sacks Deshaun Watson
3rd-7 at 50, 6:36 left in 3Q
This was the last gasp here. The Texans drove to midfield to try to keep the game within reach. On 3rd and 7, Clark destroys Tytus Howard off the edge, Howard stands watches while Clark keeps chasing Watson (the last time I saw an offensive lineman stop playing on a play like this, it was Kendall Lamm, which should be terrifying for anyone who cares about Tytus Howard), and eventually chases him out of bounds for a two yard loss, leading to Bill O"Biren punting down 17 at midfield in the third quarter, against a team with the best offense of the past decade. So yeah..... good times.
L'Jarius Sneed INT
1st-10 at HOU 36. 14:27 left in 4Q
All we need from this is this tweet ... the interception was caused by this pressure from Tyrann Mathieu:
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yea Seth the TEs coach should be rolling that back and letting Fells ass have it in meetings pic.twitter.com/IDe8m9sjl7— Texans Naron (@theTNShow) September 14, 2020
Tyreek Hill, 3 yard TD catch
3rd-GOAL at HOU 3, 11:25 left in 4Q
And now it was REALLY "game over".
Deshaun Watson takes knee to end game
3rd-4 at HOU 31, 0:02 left in 4Q
The team TRAILING taking a knee to end the game felt like an appropriate ending to this debacle. See you all on Sunday for the next chapter in the early season death march.