ReFo: Texans @ Giants, Week 3
Having already matched their 2013 win total, the Houston Texans were left waiting to improve on it with a humbling 30-17 defeat by the New York Giants that never quite felt as close as the score would indicate. As he has for much of his career Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled with interceptions, tossing four of them in this contest and these turnovers, in conjunction with a blocked punt and a porous run defense, meant that the Texans would be handed their first loss when all was said and done. And yet they still sit alone atop the AFC South.
After struggling offensively through two weeks, the Giants finally seem to have adapted to offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new scheme. It helps that they dominated in the trenches, but gone were (most of) the awful mistakes that has plagued New York’s offense thus far. Eli Manning threw just one pass over 20 yards in the air, compared with eight in his first two games, and in the process broke his streak of seven straight games with an interception. Of some concern was the defense’s penchant for giving up big plays, but ignoring a few select events, the defense played very well. Now it’s up to the Giants to build on this success in what’s shaping up to be a solid division.
Houston Texans–Performances of Note
Brian Cushing, ILB: +0.7
Breakdown: It wasn’t the most eventful day for sixth-year Texan, but he showcased his skills while avoiding embarrassment, something several of his teammates failed to do. He struggled a bit when New York’s linemen got their hands on him, but there aren’t many linebackers better at flowing to the ball and cutting down runners near the line of scrimmage.
Signature Stat: Led the Texans in both tackles (11) and defensive stops (5).
DeAndre Hopkins, WR: +2.6 receiving
Breakdown: About the only piece of Houston’s offense that was consistently productive, Hopkins demonstrated the production (six catches for 116 yards) that has been Andre Johnson’s role in the offense. In maybe the most depressing play of the entire day, Hopkins showed a brilliant display of concentration and talent as he reeled in a one handed deep ball amidst double coverage, only for an illegal formation penalty to negate the grab.
Signature Stat: Hopkins picked up five first downs on his six catches and added another by drawing a defensive hold.
Ben Jones, LG: -4.7
Breakdown: There were many to blame for Houston’s offensive stagnation, and Jones was a key contributor. He led the team in surrendering five pressures, and they weren’t the slow-developing, coverage pressures- when Jones got beat, he got beat swiftly.
Signature Stat: Four of Jones’ five pressures came to defensive end Robert Ayers, who spent nearly 60% of his snaps lined up inside against Jones.
New York Giants–Performances of Note
Larry Donnell, TE: +1.3
Breakdown: New York’s only relevant offensive weapon a week ago, Donnell caught all six passes thrown his way, but a crucial red zone fumble almost certainly took points off the board. Yet it was his run blocking that stood out today, earning a +2.7 grade for his help in Rashad Jennings’ big game.
Signature Stat: Donnell was targeted on one quarter of the snaps in which he ran a pass route.
Offensive Line, +7.2 run blocking
Breakdown: Having to contend with J.J. Watt, you’d forgive New York’s offensive line for having a down day. But outside of a few splash plays by Watt, the starting five more than held their own. Much of that was generated with careful scheming that minimized his influence, providing linemen with leverage or simply running away from him. Consistency was the name of the game on Sunday, as the Giants averaged 4.9 yards per carry without a single run over 18 yards.
Signature Stat: All five starters graded positively in the run game.
Mathias Kiwanuka, DE: +2.7
Breakdown: Kiwanuka’s steady play at left defensive end helped to slowly strangle the life out of Houston’s offense. A bit low on the pressure count, he made up for it with the speed at which he got to Fitzpatrick and his impact against the run.
Signature Play: With 7:21 to go in the third quarter, Kiwanuka knifes inside Newton almost instantly, only for Fitzpatrick to hit an underneath route and avoid what would have been a painful sack.
PFF Game Ball
He was perfect in pass protection and exhibited good push in the run game. Is this the 2012 version of Will Beatty (+3.1) that we’re seeing this year?