It might not have been the prettiest game from start to finish, but the Houston Texans continue their solid play by downing the Buffalo Bills 21-9 Sunday in Houston. RB Arian Foster ran the ball 24 times for 111 yards and a touchdown against the NFL’s worst ranked rushing defense. QB Matt Schaub added 268 passing yards and 2 TDs to power the offense to their 21 points. Schaub’s main target on the afternoon was WR Andre Johnson, who hauled in eight passes for 118 yards.
The Texans got out to a slow start and somewhat struggled in the first half. Penalties and sloppy play highlighted the first thirty minutes of the game, something Texans fans don’t expect to see from their usually disciplined squad. However, the defense held tough, as they did all afternoon, and took a 7-6 lead into halftime.
To start the second half, the Texans scored on their first possession in typical Texan fashion, ending with a three-yard Foster TD. The game was seemingly over from this point forward as the defense gave the Bills’ offense nothing for the remainder of the game. The D did a particularly good job shutting down the Bills’ two-headed running back monster in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, only allowing a combined 60 yards rushing, thus forcing QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to beat them. Fitzpatrick was good, not great, finishing 25/38 for 239 yards, no TDs or INTs. But any time Fitzpatrick is forced to throw the ball 38 times, the advantage goes to the defense.
The Texans finally put the Bills away for good when Schaub connected with TE Garrett Graham for a five-yard TD pass with 11:25 left in the fourth quarter. With the way the defense dominated the Bills’ O, a twelve point lead was all the Texans D was going to need. Defensively, DE J.J. Watt recorded another sack, bringing his season total to a league high 10.5. OLBs Connor Barwin and Whitney Mercilus also added one sack apiece in what was a team effort to harass Fitzpatrick from start to finish, who was officially sacked three times and knocked down an additional ten times while facing constant pressure throughout the contest.
Offensively, the Texans may not have lit up the scoreboard, but the most encouraging sign and takeaway was the play of the offensive line, which controlled the line of scrimmage from start to finish. It was refreshing to see the Texans play a grind-it-out style of game and come away victorious, proving they can still win a game in the trenches.
Lastly, in his first return to Houston as a Bill, former Texan DE Mario Williams played a solid game, recording one sack to go along with a team-high seven tackles. If there was any silver lining to the Bills overall poor play, it was Williams. Regarding his return to Houston, Williams commented to the media, “It was great. I think the biggest thing for me is if you go out and make a play and you get booed, I know I'm in your heart. That's the most important thing. If it had been quiet, then I would have felt something different. But I know you're thinking about me.”
Super Mario is certainly in the minds, and maybe hearts, of all Texans fans, but so are the check marks in the wins column. The Texans take the field again next Saturday night on the road against the 7-1 Chicago Bears.
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