By Shawn Lealos
The Houston Texans have gotten to where they are at this point in the season because of a defense that is playing great, despite losing J.J. Watt. However, when the Texans faced the red-hot Oakland Raiders, it was their defense that let them down in the end. The Raiders scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to win the game, 27-20. Here is a look at the Houston Texans team grades.
The biggest reason that the Houston Texans lost three of their first nine games of the season is because free agent acquisition Brock Osweiler has struggled to take on the role of the team’s franchise quarterback. While Houston’s previous losses came against three of the best defenses in the NFL, Denver, New England and Minnesota, Monday night’s loss came at the hands of a middle-of-the-road Raiders defense.
Osweiler completed 26-of-39 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown. He also threw an interception, but his completion percentage was his third best of the season and he was able to keep Houston up on Oakland until the fourth quarter. His top target, as it has often been this season, was tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, who caught six balls for 82 yards.
Another positive for the Texans came in the running game, as Lamar Miller carried the ball 24 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. It was Miller’s third 100-yard game of the season, but only his third rushing touchdown. The offense looked like they might play well enough to win, but the defense let them down.
With only 11 minutes left in the game, Osweiler drove Houston down for a field goal to put his team up 20-13 over a Raiders team that had only lost two games this season. On the very next Oakland offensive play, Derek Carr threw a pass to fullback Jamize Olawale, who ran 75 yards for a touchdown to tie the game up. The Texans tried to drive down the field, but gave the ball up on downs on a controversial ruling from the officials.
That gave the Raiders another chance, and it only took five plays for Oakland to drive 85 yards. Derek Carr finished the drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper for the win. When the Texans needed to stop Oakland at the end, they couldn’t. Carr finished with 295 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
Special Teams: B-
The Houston Texans could have taken the lead in the fourth quarter, but decided to go for it on fourth down. It showed a lack of confidence in either their kicker or their defense. Nick Novak did hit both field goals he attempted, which was good considering he is only hitting 80 percent of his field goals this season. The return game was average at best. On a positive note, punter Shane Lechler averaged an impressive 52 yards per punt.
The Houston Texans needed to score to take the lead over the Raiders with six minutes remaining. They drove to the 15-yard line and instead of kicking the go-ahead field goal, they went for it on fourth down and failed to make it. Oakland scored on their next drive and Houston couldn’t get past their own 45 on their final drive. The Texans could have lost anyway, even if they kicked the field goal, but not taking the points was a mistake and it might have cost them the game.
The Houston Texans are still in first place in the AFC South. They remain one game ahead of the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans and beat both teams earlier in the season. It is also positive to note that the four teams that beat the Texans this season have a combined record of 29-11 and three of them (New England, Oakland, Minnesota) are either in first place or tied for first place in their divisions. Next up is the San Diego Chargers, who are 4-6 on the season.