Posted on October 9, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Heading into Sunday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, fans of the Houston Texans knew there was a good shot their team could lose. The Chiefs were the last undefeated team in the NFL for a reason. Kareem Hunt has become a beast, Alex Smith has found his long ball, and the Chiefs defense is no joke.
They knew they could lose the game, but they didn’t really think about what else they could lose—which, as it turns out, was quite a bit.
The game was going to be one heck of a test for the Texans. As usual, they would need to lean on their defense. Against an offense like the one Kansas City has had this season, they would need to lean on the defense a lot. It would also be an excellent test for Deshaun Watson as well. He may have been able to shred the Patriots and Titans, but the Chiefs defense is better than both.
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Could he step up his game enough to upset the last undefeated team in the NFL?
It quickly became apparent that he would need to step his game up and into the stratosphere to lead the team to a win. Not only did the Texans defense lose Whitney Mercilus during the Chiefs opening drive of the game, but they lost J.J. Watt as well.
But the loss wasn’t just for the game. Both are out for the season. Mercilus tore a pectoral muscle, and Watt suffered a broken leg.
“That’s tough [to lose Watt and Mercilus],” O’Brien said after the game (ESPN). “But at the end of the day, that’s not an excuse. We have to do better in all three phases. I thought we competed until the end, and the next guys are going to have to step up and play.
“Guys get hurt, and the next guy in the team meeting room at that position needs to step up.”
Despite the loss of both players, the defense didn’t do a bad job. They held the Chiefs to field goals on the first two drives of the game. Both were lengthy drives that ate up a lot of time, but they were able to hold them out of the end zone in the end.
Yes, the defense only forced the Chiefs to punt twice the entire game—and that is certainly not good. Kansas City scored on every first-half possession. But three of the five scores were field goals, and the Texans were only down 23-7 at the half.
It wasn’t an ideal situation for the Texans, but it could have been much, much worse.
After a slow first half, Deshaun Watson was able to get things moving in the second half. After punting on the team’s first possession, he threw a pair of touchdown passes to Will Fuller on the next two to pull the team within six, 26-20.
At this point in the game, it would have been great if the Texans could have gotten a little help from the defense and special teams. The Chiefs extended the lead back out to 12 on the next drive when De’Anthony Thomas hauled in a ten-yard pass from Alex Smith for a touchdown.
An 82-yard punt return for a touchdown by Tyreek Hill following Houston’s next drive pretty much put the game out of reach.
Watson would tack on a pair of touchdown passes before the game ended and Kansas City added a field goal to make the final 42-34, Kansas City.
So, Kansas City remains the only unbeaten team in the NFL and appears to be the team to beat in the AFC. Houston falls to 2-3, a game behind the surprising Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South.
While the Texans injuries were devastating, the Chiefs suffered their fair share as well. Travis Kelce ended up leaving the game with a concussion. Wide receiver Chris Conley ruptured his Achilles. His replacement, Albert Wilson had to leave the game with leg spasms. Kelce passed the test on the sideline, but at halftime couldn’t remember the game.
“He [Kelce] came in at halftime, and he couldn’t quite remember [anything],” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said after the game (ESPN). “He was remembering on the field, but he couldn’t quite remember things, and so we just held him out from there.”
It will be interesting to see what Houston does, if anything. The offense has room to go and improve. But with the defense fans have come to know and love, the offense can be enough for the team to win now. However, while the team proved last season it could thrive without Watt, Mercilus was a key piece of the puzzle.
Will the Texans try to bring in some pass rush help? Jadeveon Clowney is playing well, but he’s only one man. Could a call to Dwight Freeney’s agent be in Houston’s future?
The Texans will face the Cleveland Browns next week. Kansas City will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.