Throughout this game, both defenses limited the other offense, not by making great plays in a spectacular defensive effort, but by playing competent coverage and recovering fumbles. Brennan Scarlett forced a fumble by tackling Kyle Allen from behind when he attempted to scramble. Whitney Mercilus had another strip sack after slamming the alleyoop tossed to him by D.J. Reader. J.J. Watt stuck to Taylor Moton after a failed punch and long-armed the ball out of Allen’s hands.
These three plays strung together leashed the Panthers’ offense and kept the game to 13-10. 13-10. This was the surmountable mountain Deshaun Watson looked up at to try and win this game. Then he was strip-sacked, and the fumble was recovered by Eric Reid.
On the ensuing possession, Allen ducked under a free J.J. Watt loop inside, like a man with a safari hat and a powerful rifle dipping under a leaping lion. He made a deep completion while stumbling upright, setting up three Carolina runs to put the clock down to :28. Houston was unable to stop the clock because Bill O’Brien had already used all three timeouts, including one on an alltime dumb challenge call.
16-10. An easy field goal. 28 seconds remaining. This was the new and even more precarious mountain Watson faced after slipping down the previous one. Even Edmund Tillary didn’t climb every mountain on each attempt. Watson completed some short passes to set up a Hail Mary attempt. It was batted down by Reid. Panthers win.
The Texans are 2-2 and play the 1-3 Falcons in Houston next Sunday at 12 p.m. CDT.