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NFL Week 15: Colts 27, Texans 20 — Four Winners, Four Losers

Poor Deshaun Watson pit up crazy numbers again, but was done in by his teammates' mistakes.
Poor Deshaun Watson pit up crazy numbers again, but was done in by his teammates' mistakes.
Photo by Eric Sauseda
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If the Texans were ready to turn the page to 2021 after the last two weeks of NFL action — a heartbreaking last second loss to the Colts two weeks ago and a 38-7 blowout loss to the Bears last week — then they may just want to go into hiding for the last two weeks of 2020 after what happened in Indianapolis Sunday afternoon. In a game that was practically a carbon copy of the game with the Colts two weeks ago, the Texans committed a turnover deep in Colts territory, late in the game, seeking what would have been a game tying touchdown, and they lost 27-20.

The score and situation were nearly identical to two weeks ago, the only difference was the culprit. Two weeks ago, it was a bad Nick Martin snap to Deshaun Watson. Yesterday, it was an inexcusable Keke Coutee fumble at the goal line....

So the Texans are now 4-10, and the only bit of good news is that (a) they're done having to travel to have their hearts broken, as the final two games will be at home, and (b) there are only two games left with this Bill O'Brien-constructed debacle of a roster. Let's get to the winners and losers from yesterday's game (and other happenings around the world of football):

WINNERS

4. Deshaun Watson
For the umpteenth time this season, it was hammered home — Deshaun Watson is the only thing separating the Houston Texans from being the New York Jets. With no semblance of a running game to complement him, with an offensive line that is a jumbled mess, with most of his receiving corps injured or suspended, Watson continues to exude greatness. On Sunday, he finished 33 of 41 for 373 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked on each of the first four possessions of the game, and bounced back strong, bringing the Texans back from an early 14-0 deficit. He would have completed another late game comeback, too, except... well...

3. Pat Fitzgerald
The names continue to roll in through the rumor mill on who might become the Texans' fourth full time head coach in franchise history. One intriguing college name tied to NFL rumors (not specifically the Texans) over the weekend was Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald: Courtesy of ESPN.com:

NFL teams are expected to make formal requests to interview Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald for their head-coaching jobs after the Wildcats' bowl game, league sources told ESPN.

Two teams already inquired about Fitzgerald's availability Saturday afternoon after Northwestern lost to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Fitzgerald, who has won two Big Ten West titles over the past three years and has coached Northwestern to three 10-win seasons, will be one of the highest-demand NFL head-coaching candidates in the upcoming hiring cycle.

As college coaches go, Fitzgerald wouldn't be at the top of the list of guys who I think of first when NFL jobs come up, but he has done a whole lot more with less, as the head coach of a small private school n a conference full of state school behemoths. I'm intrigued.

2. Chad Hansen
One thing the Texans must do over these final few games is find some players who are still inexpensive, but productive, to fill out their depth chart next season. At the wide receiver position, the team has Brandin Cooks at $12 million next year, Randall Cobb at about $8 million guaranteed, and possibly Will Fuller back on a pricy deal. So having some cheap guys with a little juice complementing the expensive guys is a must. Hansen has done a nice job since being inserted into the lineup three games ago. In those three games, 14 catches for 212 yards, and on Sunday, he scored his first career touchdown. Hansen brings a different body type to the position, too, as he is a little bigger and stronger than Cooks, Cobb, Fuller, and Coutee.

1. Philip Rivers
With two weeks left in the regular season, I'm not sure where the Colts will finish in the AFC pecking order. Right now, they are a wild card team, with the Tennessee Titans holding the tiebreaker in the AFC South. They may have to go on the road to play either Buffalo or Pittsburgh outdoors in January, so that may not be the most Rivers-friendly scenario. However, it is clear that Rivers is playing his best football as the season progresses, and yesterday, he was highly efficient, going 22 of 28 for 2,288 yards and two touchdowns.

LOSERS

4. Alex Myers
We interrupt discussing the Texans' loss to the Colts to bring you this assault of Lions CB Alex Myers, by Tennessee's Derrick Henry.....

Reminder — the Texans play the Titans in Week 17, and Henry will likely be gunning for 2,000 yards on the season in that matchup.

3. First drives again ....
Broken record alert — the Texans were forced to punt on their opening offensive drive. This is the 13th time in 14 games where they've punted on their opening drive, and this is the 43rd time in 45 opening drives for Deshaun Watson since the start of 2018 in which the Texans have failed to score a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Colts soared a touchdown on THEIR opening drive, making it seven of the last eight games in which the Texans' have allowed a touchdown on the opposing teams opening drive. THAT is how you become 4-10.

2. The little things
Oh, also sequences like this one outlined in the tweet below. The Texans were driving in the third quarter, down 17-10, and rookie RB Scottie Phillips took the ball down deep into Colts territory for what appeared to be a first and goal. However ... (and please excuse the "fo" typo) ....

Between Reich's cagey use of his replay challenge, and the Texans' own self-inflicted wounds (penalties, poor execution), the Texans squandered a golden opportunity to tie the game at 17-17, and instead settle for a 17-13 deficit. It's the little things.....

1. Keke Coutee
.... and then the not so little things:

Keke Coutee is a talented football player, but not talented enough to justify how often he fumbles the football. Brutal.

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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