Desperate times call for desperate measures and on Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, the Texans pulled out all the stops in a 24-17 win over the New York Jets. Houston rode two Deandre Hopkins touuchdowns and late second half interceptions by Eddie Pleasant and Andre Hal to a third consecutive win. The win marked the first time since 2012 that the Houston Texans ad put together such a streak.
A lackluster performance by both sides was eventually permeated by incredible receptions from Hopkins, the third youngest receiver to 200 catches in NFL history. Only Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona and former Arizona receiver David Boston were quicker.
After a scoreless first quarter, the two teams traded field goals and it looked as if the game would be a 3-3 tie at the half before Hopkins stepped up his game. On second and 12 from the Houston 13 yard line, quarterback T.J. Yates fired a laser that Hopkins snagged with his left hand extended running towards the out of bounds marker good for an 18 yard pickup. Two plays later, the newly assigned Houston starter who had thrown the Texans star wide receiver’s first NFL touchdown on August 9, 2013 in a preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings found the 23 year old Texans receiver over the top for a 61 yard score.
The two connected again for what would prove to be the game winner with 3:24 left in the third quarter. Hopkins also became the fastest player in franchise history to reach to 200 receptions, 3,000 career receiving yards and the first to reach 1,000 receiving yards in the first 10 games of a season. It was his 42nd straight game with a reception, the second longest active streak in the NFL.
“The first touchdown was just a great ball, I ran a good route and TJ put the ball where it needed to be,” said Hopkins talking after game about his two scoring receptions. “The second one was an example of the quarterback trusting me, putting the ball there and me making a great play.”
New York quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s threw a third quarter scoring strike to Brandon Marshall that snapped Houston’s 12 quarters streak of not allowing a touchdown. The former Texans signal caller would also score the Jets only other touchdown with a six yard run in the fourth quarter to pull New York to within seven at 24-17 with 4:20 left in the game.
Texans receiver Cecil Shorts III also controlled Houston’s first showing of their wildcat formation as offensive coordinator George Godsey dug deep into the Texans playbook. Tied 10-10 in the third, Godsey called on the former Mount Union Purple Raiders star for some razzle dazzle. Yates under center with a first and 10 at the New York 21 yard line, lateraled to Shorts who then lofted a pass to a wide open Alfred Blue for the Houston’s go ahead score. Last season as member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shorts completed the same pass against the Texans for a score.
Houston’s secondary preserved the win with two interceptions in the closing minutes. Eddie Pleasant intercepted Fitzpatrick with 2:47 to play and then on New York’s next possession Andre Hal intercepted the Jets signal caller on first and 10 from the New York 29 yard line.
Former Texans kicker Randy Bullock, released 12 days ago by Houston, connected from 40 yards for his only field goal of the day.
Yates completed his first start of 2015 throwing for 229 yards on 16 of 34 and two touchdowns.
Houston (5-5) kept pace with the Indianapolis Colts (5-5) for the lead in the AFC South. The Colts won 24-21 on a 42 yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri with 52 seconds remaining against the Atlanta Falcons.