It’s not about how you start but rather how you finish that matters most. This couldn’t be more true for the Houston Texans in its week five matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
After trailing 17-16 at halftime, the Texans outscored the Falcons 37-15 over the final two quarters.
Texans QB Deshaun Watson finished with 426 passing yards and matched a career-high with five passing touchdowns while WR Will Fuller had career-highs across the board with 14 catches, 217 yards, and three touchdowns on 16 targets in the Houston Texans 53-32 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Houston on Sunday.
The connection from Watson and Fuller was spectacular all afternoon, as the duo combined for eight catches on nine targets for 101 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and six of seven for 116 yards and a touchdown in the final 30 minutes.
The biggest of those catches came in the final minutes of play. Up 40-32 with less than two minutes remaining, the Texans had a manageable third down and five ensuing. Even though the Texans pass attack had been successful all afternoon, it was figured Watson would hand the ball off to either RB Carlos Hyde or Duke Johnson to set them up for a long field goal attempt or a potential punt to pin Atlanta deep in its own territory.
stats via. www.ESPN.com
Texans Pour it On
Instead, Texans HC Bill O’Brien kept his foot on the gas. Watson fired a strike to Fuller who outran multiple Falcons defenders to the end zone giving him his third score and capping off his career day. With the lead now 47-32 with only a minute and a half remaining, it ended any hope of a potential Falcons comeback.
Watson was near perfect from the team’s opening drive all the way up until his final pass to Fuller on his third touchdown of the game. He had as many incompletions as touchdowns (5), zero turnovers, and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. It was encouraging to see the third-year QB out of Clemson dominate after a disappointing performance last week at home in a 16-10 loss against the Panthers where he threw for only 160 yards and finished with touchdowns.
While he didn’t have a massive game like Fuller, superstar WR DeAndre Hopkins was finally able to get in a rhythm with Watson as he finished with seven catches for 88 yards against a porous Atlanta defense. It was a positive sign for Hopkins who has gotten off to a slow start this season. Despite a dominant week one performance with eight catches, 111 yards, and two touchdowns, Hopkins has been quiet since. In weeks two through four, he recorded no more than six catches or 67 yards in those three matchups.
The difference in the game was the third quarter. In the fifteen minutes of play, the Texans outscored the Falcons 17-0. In the quarter, the Texans had three drives in the quarter: it resulted in a touchdown, field goal, and touchdown. Meanwhile, the Falcons also had three drives in the quarter that resulted in three straight punts and gained a total of 22 yards on 11 plays.
One of the more encouraging signs coming from this victory was the Texans’ offensive line’s ability to neutralize the Falcons pass rush. Watson, who came into the game being sacked 18 times (3rd most in the NFL), did not get sacked once in the victory and was able to move through the pocket with ease all game long. Watson also showed his dual threat ability as he added 47 yards on the ground.
For the Falcons, the 2019 season continues to be a disappointing one. With the loss, Atlanta falls to 1-4, extending its losing streak to three games and last in the NFC South. Aside from QB Matt Ryan, who had a decent day with 330 yards and 3 touchdowns, it was a miserable performance both offensively and defensively for Atlanta.
Even though Ryan had 32 completions and 330 yards, only 42 yards and three completions went star WR Julio Jones’s way. In order to Falcons to get back to its winning ways, Jones needs to finish better than tied for 4th on the team in receiving yards and only being targeted seven times. RB Devonta Freeman continued to be non-existent running the football, finishing with only 30 yards on 11 carries. Freeman has failed to eclipse more than 30 rushing yards in four-of-five games this season, with the lone exception coming against the Colts in week three where he had 88 yards.
Houston we have a problem: the Falcons defense. Minus the pick-six that Ryan threw at the end of the game, the Atlanta defense gave up an astounding 47 points. With long-term injuries to key players like safety Keanu Neal and DE Michael Bennett, the Falcons were exposed all game long. Besides a punt on the first drive of the game and a kneel down at the end of the first half, the Texans scored a field goal or a touchdown on every other drive of the game. The Falcons have now allowed 152 points through five weeks, second worst in the league only trailing the Dolphins who have given up 163 points. Just a flat out embarrassing performance all-around for Atlanta. Things are only going to get worse before they get better for the Falcons defense. They face the Rams, Seahawks, and Saints in three of its next four matchups, all who rank in the top 15 in the NFL in points scored this season.
The Texans (3-2) travel to Kansas City to take on the undefeated Chiefs (4-0) next Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
The Falcons (1-4) will look to get on track next week in Arizona as they take on the Cardinals (1-3-1) at 4:05 p.m.
No Shenanigans, Just Football.