AFC South

Houston Texans Remain Undefeated, Top Chiefs in Defensive Standoff

Mandatory Credit: George Bridges/AP

HOUSTON — Backstopped by a stout defensive effort, the Houston Texans defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 19-12 and improved their record to 2-0 to start the season.

The Texans now have the longest active winning streak during the regular-season with five-straight victories.

Limiting the Chiefs to just four field goals and pulling quarterback Alex Smith down four times, Houston’s defense recovered three fumbles that put their offense in Kansas City territory on each occasion.

Texans’ J.J. Watt, who “knocked some rust off” in the team’s Week 1 outing against Chicago, played an even more significant role in Week 2 and was arguably Houston’s defensive MVP for the game. He finished the game with five total tackles, 1.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and two hits on Smith in a tilt he described as a team win.

“It’s really a whole team effort,” Watt said. “And I think it’s a lot of fun when you play that way because the ball is flyin’ out, the guys are flyin’ around, tackles are comin’ from everywhere and I mean it’s really kind of a race to make a play which really makes it fun.”

After the outing Watt indicated that he’s not quite “all the way there yet” in terms of his conditioning/status, but that he’s “getting closer” to 100 percent.

On the other side of the ball, All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins led the way with 113 receiving yards and scored the game’s lone touchdown, which ultimately proved to be the difference. His touchdown snag came immediately following Watt’s fumble recovery off an errant snap at about seven minutes into the game.

Targeted a team-high 11 times, Hopkins collected the lion’s share opposed to Week 1 in which Will Fuller was the beneficiary. Speaking of Fuller, his 104 receiving yards gave him back-to-back 100-yard games, which made him the second rookie wideout to ever accomplish the feat in the Super Bowl era.

Houston’s receiving tandem of Fuller and Hopkins has garnered plentiful attention through the first two contests, but Hopkins credits the line and QB Brock Osweiler’s ability to allow them success.

“Working with the QB,” Hopkins said about the duo’s achievements. “Working with Brock. Us getting touches is solely on the offensive line holding up and Brock making the right reads.”

The one issue Osweiler does need to improve upon is his reads, though.

Passing 19 of 33 for one touchdown, Osweiler threw two interceptions, which brings his total to three through two performances thus far. Both of Osweiler’s picks were on drives where Houston was in position to put up points; an achilles heel for the first-year Texan, who recognizes turnovers in the red cannot continue.

“Without question, and it starts with eliminating the turnovers,” Osweiler said. “If I just protect the football, with the way our defense is playing right now, the way (you know) Lechler’s playing, the way our running game’s going, good things are going to happen to this football team. So, obviously my main emphasis going into this practice week is protecting the football.”

Osweiler’s three interceptions are tied for second-most in the NFL.

However, head coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t seem to be overly troubled by his quarterback’s gaffes early on.

“No, I think I have to do a better job there of coaching him just on some of the things we’re lookin’ at from a defensive standpoint,” he said. “And I know that he’s going to work hard not to do that, but I’m not, not concerned about that at all.”

Running back Lamar Miller held his own once again, tallying 83 yards on 25 carries. Just like in their tussle with the Bears, Houston leaned on Miller’s ability to pound the rock and control the game clock. The Texans had a 33:59 minutes of possession time to the Chiefs’ 26:01—a near 10-minute differential—putting Miller’s heavy usage into perspective.

Despite having come away with a 2-0 record and beating the Chiefs who obliterated them in both meetings last season, the Texans must display better execution offensively if they want to keep up with the league’s best. The Bears and Chiefs, while tough opponents overall, don’t exactly own polarizing offenses—especially a Jamaal Charles-less Chiefs team.

The Texans have a short practice week before they matchup with the undefeated New England Patriots this Thursday. Houston will also be going up against a Patriots team that is now minus QB Jimmy Garoppolo in addition to Tom Brady, but that by no means diminishes their chances.

“They are a really good football team,” O’Brien said. “Great coaching staff, great players, very good at home. I’m not sure how many games they’ve lost over the last 15 years at home but it’s not many. Might be single digits. So, it’s a very, very big challenge for our football team and our guys will be ready to go and we’ll have a good week here, we’ll go up there and we’ll give it our best effort.”

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