What a game! What a good, bad, and everything in between game!
Without rookie running back Dameon Pierce and rookie cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr., an already depleted Houston Texans squad looked more than overmatched entering this contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. But, effective play from Royce Freeman complemented with more consistent passing from Davis Mills created an offensive recipe that made Christmas feel like it had arrived early.
But, in a game where yards were still hard to come by for Houston (219 yards to Kansas City’s 502), the turnovers showed what this Texans team was truly capable of with a complimentary offense. Kansas City has been coughing up the football all season, but crucial fumbles by running back Isaiah Pacheco and receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster were both capitalized upon with touchdowns. Suddenly, Lovie Smith’s plan of taking advantage of a strength in red-zone defense was paying dividends! Suddenly, a team that has bounded haplessly throughout the season was giving a Super Bowl contender a real scare! It was never a good team, but when the turnovers were going the right direction, there was enough juice to make scoring 20+ look easy!
But, as soon as Davis Mills giveth, as soon as he taketh away:
The winter is long and harsh, but in these cold moments, the lifetime of progress made before disaster should not be forgotten.
Here’s where everyone is rankings the Texans after their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:
32. Houston Texans (1-12-1)
Week 15 ranking: 32
Pleasant surprise: DE Jerry Hughes
Hughes leads the Texans in sacks (eight) after compiling 6.5 in the past two years combined with the Bills. Many believed the star pass-rusher would be defensive end Jonathan Greenard, who had eight sacks in 12 games in 2021, but he has dealt with injuries this season. According to ESPN Stats & Information data, Hughes has 33 first pressures — tied for 21st among defenders in the league. The 34-year-old has shown he still has more than enough left in the tank.
— DJ Bien-Aime
32. Houston Texans (1-12-1)
Previous rank: No. 32
The Texans continue to flirt with some serious upsets. In Week 14, Lovie Smith’s team nearly took out the Cowboys in Big D. On Sunday, Houston pushed the mighty Chiefs to overtime at NRG Stadium. Given the fact that winning can only hurt the Texans’ draft position, some fans might consider this play hard/lose barely as the optimal scenario at this stage. Smith isn’t about that life, but he’s right to take pride in a team that’s still fighting as we approach late December. Will Texans management credit Smith for the team’s fight — or hold it against the coach that he has only coaxed one win out of a Houston team that’s now been tied or ahead in seven games entering the fourth quarter? Stay tuned.
- Dan Hanzus
PRO FOOTBALL TALK:
32. Texans (1-11-1; No. 32): Close, respectable losses are still losses.
- Mike Florio
32. Texans (32): They’ve suddenly become a tough out. And given the final three opponents are of the AFC South variety, Houston better be very careful lest this franchise plays itself out of that No. 1 overall draft pick.
- Nate Davis
32. Houston Texans (1-12-1 | last week: 32)
Though the Texans managed to take the Chiefs to overtime in Week 15, nothing about their performance this week (or any week this season) suggests they’re even close to playoff contention. The two-quarterback approach with Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel is cute, but there’s no reason to take them seriously until they’re starting one good quarterback rather than two bad ones.
- Austin Gayle
32. Houston Texans (1-12-1)
Last week: loss vs. Kansas City, 30–24
Next week: at Tennessee
The Texans, now with Situational Jeff Driskel™ power. Let’s be honest, if we told you they would take the Chiefs and Cowboys to the brink in back-to-back weeks late in the season, wouldn’t you consider that a massive win?
- Connor Orr
32. Texans (1-12-1)
They are playing better, but does it matter? They will be picking first next April. Bryce Young anybody?
- Pete Prisco
32. Houston Texasn (1-12-1)
Last Week: 32
Week 15 Result: Lost vs. Kansas City 30-24, OT
If ever there was a moral victory, the Houston Texans have tallied one in the past couple of weeks, when they have given playoff contenders all they could handle. But in each of the past two weeks, the Texans wound up losing anyway.
However, head coach Lovie Smith said after Sunday’s overtime loss that he doesn’t view the Texans as a one-win team.
“That team out there has won one game but they’re not playing like that,” he said. “They’re showing up every day, taking coaching, getting better and coming into the game and giving ourselves a chance to win.”
The thing is, the Texans are a one-win team. And that’s exactly what they should want to be. Beating the Chiefs might have felt good in the short term, but it would also potentially jeopardize their hold on the first overall pick in the 2023 draft—and the opportunity to have their pick of a strong class of quarterbacks.
So, sure, play a tight game. Make opponents sweat. And then come up short at the end. It might sting a little now, but it also increases the odds that pain will be temporary.
- Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton, Brent Sobleski
32. Houston Texans (1-12-1, Last Week: 32)
The Texans haven’t quit after all. They came close to beating the Cowboys and Chiefs the past two weeks. And they keep losing, which stinks in the short term but has practically ensured they draft first overall.
- Frank Schwab
This Saturday, on Christmas Eve, the Texans will fly to Nashville to get a shot at a reeling division leader, a worthy target of a team frantically grasping for the coveted second win of the season. Embracing the dual-quarterback attack, extremely heavy tight end approaches, and anything that’ll increase job retention entering another foggy offseason has led to some near upsets, but, like with so many Texans games this year, lacks closure. In their theatrics, the Texans demonstrate the ghosts of their potential - apparitions of good pass defense, run blocking, and even quarterbacking from Mills - that curse their bog of an ugly season, doomed to their impermanence as we are witnesses to them. Against Tennessee however, these exhilarating performances might just be shocking enough to leave the opponent cooked before season’s end. Good holiday tidings have been scarce for the Texans fans in recent years, but a victory against a rival would certainly make it a merry gathering around the television.
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