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NFL Week 12: Texans 41, Lions 25 — Four Winners, Four Losers

Watt's pick six got the scoring spree started in the Texans win over the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.
Watt's pick six got the scoring spree started in the Texans win over the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.
Photo by Eric Sauseda
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This has been  Houston Texans season where good feelings have been hard to come by, so when Deshaun Watson throws four touchdown passes, J.J. Watt turns back the clock with a pick six, and the Texans turn a road win into a sandlot game in the fourth quarter, I'm gonna savor it. That's what happened yesterday afternoon, with the Texans grinding the Detroit Lions into dust by a final score of 41-25.

For the first time this season, the Texans have won back to back games, and while I'm not going to let my mind run wild with playoff dreams with a 4-7 record, the remaining schedule undoubtedly has a little more juice to it than it did a couple weeks ago at 2-7:

WEEK 13 vs IND
WEEK 14 at CHI
WEEK 15 at IND
WEEK 16 vs CIN
WEEK 17 vs TEN

Three divisional games and two winnable games against non-division opponents — that's the schedule the rest of the way. Three home games, two road trips to the Midwest. It starts with the Colts in ten days. For now, let's dig into the Thanksgiving Day feast in Detroit:

WINNERS

4. Deshaun Watson
Another week, another Player of the Week-worthy performance. Watson torched the Lions secondary all afternoon (17-25, 314 yards, 4 TD's) with downfield shot after downfield shot to Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks, and missed in a deep shot for a touchdown to Duke Johnson along the way, as well. The most remarkable things about Watson's season so far are (a) he is doing this with absolutely no semblance of a running game, and (2) he has now gone six straight games without throwing a pick, after throwing five in the first five games this season. Watson is THE selling point to prospective head coaches and general managers.

3. J.J. Watt, pick six
Early in this game, there was a little bit of a doozy "here we go again" vibe, with the Texans punting on their opening possession, and the Lions going down the field and scoring a touchdown. After stopping the Texans on their second possession, the Lions took over, looking to get an early two score lead. Then this happened ....

This was a mirror image of Watt's pick six in the playoff win over the Bengals his rookie year. I was thrilled to see this happen for Watt, who's had to endure one of the toughest seasons of his career, with the team's slow start, their porous defense, and trying to win games in the rubble left behind by Bill O'Brien. Good for J.J.

2. Tyrell Adams
On the very next play from scrimmage following Watt's pick six, Adams forced a Jonathan Williams fumble, recovered by Bradley Roby, and then on the Lions' next possession, Adams forced yet another fumble. Oh, and did I mention that Adams had 17 tackles? Adams took over Bernardrick McKinney's inside linebacker spot after McKinney's season ended with a shoulder injury in Week 4, and his performance since taking over has exceeded not only expectations, but has exceeded what McKinney was doing. Sadly, Adams' production as a minimum salary guy only accentuates the lunacy of making McKinney and Cunningham two of the highest paid inside linebackers in football.

1. Will Fuller
Once again, Fuller had a game befitting a No. 1 wide receiver, and if he continues his streak of full health and availability — he hasn't missed a game yet this season — then some team is going to pay him BIG money, if the Texans let him hit free agency. Yesterday, Fuller had six catches for 171 yards (28.5 yards per catch!) and two touchdowns. Fuller ruined Thanksgiving for poor Amani Oruwariye and his family members, embarrassing him at all levels of the defense. The next Texans general manager is going to have a big decision to make on Fuller, who has always been a barometer for the ceiling of this offense, even when DeAndre Hopkins was here.

LOSERS

4. First half discipline
Even amidst a lost season, the Texans came into Thursday's game as the third least penalized team in the league. Their execution issues have been that they just flat out get beat too much, not that they commit too many penalties. Then the first half of Thursday's game happened. The Texans had EIGHT penalties in the first half, and that doesn't include three that were declined by the Lions. And yet, still the Texans led 23-14 at the half. THAT'S how bad the Lions are.

3. Bill O'Brien, DeAndre Hopkins punching bag
Houston will never forgive Bill O'Brien for trading DeAndre Hopkins. It was inexcusable. Thus, I condone any Twitter bullying of O'Brien that Hopkins wants to engage in... like this!

2. C.J. Prosise
People forget that Prosise, currently the Texans' second string running back behind Duke Johnson, with David Johnson on injured reserve, was once a very highly thought of player coming out of Notre Dame. Seattle drafted him in the third round back in 2016, and in his first couple seasons, he flashed some promise. However, injuries caught up to him, and he morphed into a street journeyman. So in the first half, with the Texans struggling to gain any ground yards with Duke Johnson, the Texans decided to run Prosise to start a series. He fumbled on the first play, and it was back to Duke Johnson. Prosise got some garbage time carries, but chances to get career traction for a guy like Prosise will be rare. Might have been an opportunity missed for him.

1. Matt Patricia
If the Lions end up firing Matt Patricia this week — for what it's worth, he is the betting favorite to be the next NFL head coach fired, odds at -150 — the moment the Ford family decided "Yep, he is done" was probably this....

As for my feelings on Patricia, the coach...

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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