Houston Texans 23, Buffalo Bills 17
J.J. Watt is laying down the framework for another Defensive Player of the Year award, if not full on MVP of the league. The 25-year-old defensive end found another way to score after tipping an E.J. Manuel pass to himself for a touchdown. Watt picked up a block from Kareem Jackson and outran everyone else for an 80-yard touchdown return early in the third quarter. The score gave the Texans a lead that it would not relinquish.
Watt finished the game with five tackles and a staggering seven hits on Manuel, who struggled with his accuracy all game. The second-year signal caller was sacked twice, throwing for 225 yards on 21 of 44 passing attempts. His second interception came on a potential game-winning drive late in the 4th quarter.
After getting absolutely torched by Rashad Jennings and the New York Giants last week, the Texans' defense held C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to a combined 93 yards on 22 carries.
Ryan Fitzpatrick earned some bragging rights over his former team with the win, by turning in a very Fitzpatrick-style performance. The former Bills (and former Rams, Bengals, Titans) quarterback threw for 268 yards on 25/37 passing and had a touchdown. The Bearded Wonder also put his body on the line several times for key third down conversions via scrambling.
Two interceptions marred what would have been a typical game-managing effort by Fitzpatrick. The first came on a long, slightly overthrown attempt to DeAndre Hopkins. Leodis McKelvin snatched the ball from Hopkins' outstretched hands and came down with the turnover. The second came on a tipped pass that fell into the hands of Nigel Bradham.
We're witnessing the gradual passing of the torch between Hopkins and Andre Johnson. We've still seen Andre be the primary target for the Texans, but it's been DeAndre who has made the splashier plays. Against the Bills, the duo combined pretty evenly for 135 yards, 11 catches and a touchdown on 13 targets. Johnson is most trusted on third downs, while Hopkins gets many deeper looks, such 35-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
Add in 41-, 55- and 50-yard field goals from Randy Bullock, some superb punt work from Shane Lechler, and the Texans are 3-1 to start the season.
The defense, special teams and, yes, the passing game helped negate an anemic rushing attack. Arian Foster and Alfred Blue combined for 15 yards on 17 carries against a Bills defense determined to make Ryan Fitzpatrick beat them.
And, by Durga, he did. The Texans are difficult to decipher, but that 3-1 record looks pretty nice.
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