In a game that was not quite as close as what the final score ended up being, the Houston Texans outclassed the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day, defeating them by a final score of 41-25. Here are 5 things we learned from the first game played on Thursday.
5. The Texans Badly Need An Early Down RB
Houston came into the game ranked in the bottom four in the league in rushing yards per game, which is a disappointing statistic considering that the main asset the team received in the trade for DeAndre Hopkins was RB David Johnson.
Even before being put on injured reserve with a concussion, Johnson was not exactly putting up bell-cow numbers. In eight games played this season, he has not eclipsed 100 yards rushing in any game, and only totaled more than 75 yards on the ground twice. On Thursday, RB’s Duke Johnson and C.J. Prosise handled the bulk of the carries but were also not able to get much going in the run game in a contest where the Texans had the game script working in their favor.
4. Adrian Peterson Has a Few (Good) Years Left
We live at a point in time in the NFL where running backs aged 27 or older are considered ancient, but Adrian Peterson is no ordinary running back. At 35 years young, Peterson made a strong case that he was the best running back on the field in that game.
To start the second half for Detroit, AP received 5 straight carries which he turned into 40 yards. Unfortunately, the Lions couldn’t capitalize with a touchdown on that drive, but for the future Hall of Famer to own a drive like that without much else working for the offense was something to behold.
In addition to that, Peterson proved effective by the goal line as well, punching in two touchdowns in the first half. In a league that still values goal line productivity highly(see Jordan Howard and LeGarrette Blount a few years ago), Peterson figures to extend his career with a penchant for crossing the plane of the goal line, even if his skills between the 20’s significantly deteriorated.
3. The Texans Trick Play Was Terrific
We’re all familiar with the classic flea-flicker play in the NFL, where the running back takes the handoff, takes a couple of steps towards the middle of the line of scrimmage, and eventually turns around to pitch the ball back to the quarterback. On Thanksgiving, Houston decided to add a little bit of extra flavor and gravy to that play.
On a play that looked like it was going absolutely nowhere, RB Duke Johnson took the handoff and started running laterally to his right, and the Lions defensive line was stacked up in front of him with no obvious running lanes. Johnson then turned around and tossed the ball back to QB Deshaun Watson, who found WR Will Fuller on an island by himself on the other side of the field for a touchdown.
With one of the most memorable game-sealing Thanksgiving day plays you’ll ever see, the Texans improved their record on Thanksgiving day to 2-0.
2. The Motor City Became Turnover City In The First Half
Before fans settled into their dinner table seats for an apple turnover, they enjoyed a barrage of turnovers by the Lions and Texans—fumbles, interceptions, you name it.
The appetizer was brought by Texans DE J.J. Watt timing his leap perfectly on a Matthew Stafford pass that was intended to reach the flat. Watt snared the football out of the air and streaked back in the other direction for a pick six to account for Houston’s first points of the afternoon.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Lions RB Jonathan Williams(in his only carry of the game) fumbled the ball after a 5-yard carry, which the Texans took advantage of 3 plays later on a Watson touchdown pass to Prosise.
As if that wasn’t enough, two more running backs put the ball on the ground, as Lions RB Kerryon Johnson fumbled on the very next possession. Then, when the Texans got the ball back, C.J. Prosise lost the ball on his 4-yard carry, giving the ball right back to the Lions.
1. Deshaun Watson is Pure Magic
In what has ended up likely being a lost season for the Houston Texans, QB Deshaun Watson continues to display moments of brilliance and glimmers of hope for the future of the franchise.
As summarized above, the Texans couldn’t get much going on the ground game, so it was apparent that the game would be in Watson’s hands very early on. He displayed great feel in the pocket with incoming pressure, keeping his feet moving and sliding/running if nothing was open downfield.
He also made a few excellent downfield throws in this game, including one to RB Duke Johnson down the sideline to give the Houston Texans a lead that they would never relinquish.
Watson finished the day with 318 yards passing and 4 touchdowns, which ended up being the best line for any quarterback who played on Thursday.Published 27 Nov 2020, 22:37 IST