For the first time this season, the Texans have a winning record.
The Texans continued their surprising resurgence, dominating the fading New Orleans Saints 24-6. The win gave the Texans a 6-5 record, keeping pace with the Indianapolis Colts atop the AFC South. Gone are the memories of a brutal 2-5 start that saw a disorganized, dysfunctional team that simply looked like one of the worst in football.
A four-game winning streak featuring a dominant defense and a good enough offense has changed the entire season in just a month.
Sunday’s win was a lot like the prior three — a powerful defensive performance and efficient play from the offense.
The defense kept Drew Brees under control for most of the game, doing an exceptional job of getting off the field on third down. The Saints converted just two of their first 10 third down attempts. J.J. Watt continued to be a force, with two sacks and constant pressure. Whatever switch Romeo Crennel flipped after the brutal loss in Miami has worked; the Texans defense is playing like one of the best in the league. Brees was held without a touchdown pass for the first time in 46 games.
The offense has also been very solid. Brian Hoyer had a rare interception on Sunday, but for the most part did a very good job of moving the team. The running game was efficient with several different players getting carries in a 167-yard performance. The offensive line — such a mess earlier in the season — continued to play very well. And there was a rare tight end sighting, as Ryan Griffin had a big game with four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
The Saints are not a good football team. They fired their defensive coordinator prior to this game, and the once-explosive offense has been inconsistent. But this is the kind of team that was running all over the Texans earlier in the year.
Now the games get meaningful. The next three weeks could very well determine the Texans season. Next week they travel to Buffalo to take on a very tough Bills team that is one of the squads the Texans could be battling for a potential wild card spot. It won’t be easy. The following week the unbeaten Patriots come to Houston. Then comes an absolute must win — at Indianapolis, a place where the Texans franchise has never won.
The winning streak has not just kept the Texans in the division race; they are also in the mix for a wild card. It’s an amazing turnaround that has suddenly made the NFL season in Houston interesting again.
This next stretch will be very difficult. But a month ago, a winning record seemed impossible, too, and here they are. And if they continue to play like this, especially on defense, then the rest of the season could be very interesting indeed.