Texans looks to build on huge offensive day
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans are coming off their best offensive game of the year and one of the best in franchise history.
They scored the second-most points and piled up the second-most yards in team history in a 53-32 win over the Falcons in a game where they had 592 yards.
But Deshaun Watson and the Texans have a big challenge ahead with a trip to Kansas City on Sunday, and coach Bill O'Brien knows his team will have to clean some things up if Houston hopes to compete with the Chiefs.
"Before we start saying this is the greatest show on turf, I think, to remember now, we had five balls on the ground," O'Brien said. "Like I was saying after the game, we're trying to get better ... I know we did a really good job on offense, but we've got a lot to work on here. So, we have to turn the page here."
Watson was great against Atlanta, throwing for a career-high 426 yards and tying a personal best with five touchdown passes. His day was certainly helped by the fact that he wasn't sacked after taking 18 through the first four games.
"Any quarterback that's any good, when you give them time to throw, they can see the field, they know what the coverage is, and he's an excellent quarterback, so, when he has time to throw ... he's probably going to find the open guy," O'Brien said.
Watson's big day was helped by Will Fuller stepping up with a career-best 217 yards receiving and three touchdowns with the Falcons focused on slowing down superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller said it was the most yards receiving he'd had since he had 276 in a game in high school.
Fuller missed the second half of last season after tearing a knee ligament and had gotten off to a slow start this year before Sunday's breakout game. He admitted that he's not quite back to normal yet, but that he's getting close.
"It still gets stiff here and there, so I'm still working on some things, still going in treatment, taking care of my knee," he said. "But definitely, health played a big part. I'm starting to feel more and more like myself ... but just staying on top of it because it's a serious injury, so I don't want it to get stiff."
Houston did whatever it wanted on offense Sunday, scoring on all but two possessions against the Falcons. While Fuller grabbed the bulk of Watson's passes, the third-year quarterback did a good job of spreading the ball around behind solid protection. He completed passes to seven players and utilized his tight ends effectively with Darren Fells adding two touchdown receptions.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
O'Brien is concerned about ball security after the Texans fumbled five times on Sunday. Watson fumbled twice and Fuller, Carlos Hyde and DeAndre Carter all fumbled once. The Texans got some lucky bounces and recovered all but one of the fumbles. But O'Brien knows that they won't always be that fortunate if they keep coughing the ball up that much and said they'd work on it in practice this week.
The Texans drafted Fuller in the first round in 2016 in hopes that he'd give them another top-tier receiver to take some pressure off Hopkins. He's shown flashes of that talent during his first three seasons, but has struggled with various injuries and has failed to contribute consistently. Now Fuller will look to build on his career day and help Houston's offense improve as the season progresses.
Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn made both of his field goals on Sunday but missed two extra points a week after missing a field goal and an extra point. O'Brien said he isn't too concerned about the struggles and knows Fairbairn is working to get better.
"He has to make the kicks," O'Brien said. "He knows that. He'd be the first to tell you that ... he knows that it's just a matter of plant foot, and he's pushing a little bit."
Receiver Kenny Stills sat out on Sunday with a hamstring injury and it's unclear if he'll be able to return this week.
1 - Watson has thrown 11 touchdowns this season with just one interception.
Houston's offensive line looked good against the struggling Falcons, but will need to play better this week against the 4-1 Chiefs to give Watson time to throw and build on what he did against Atlanta. Houston's secondary has struggled at times this year and will be tested this week against Patrick Mahomes, who leads the NFL with 1,831 yards passing. The Colts sacked him a season-high four times in Kansas City's first loss, and Houston's defensive front will need to get to him on Sunday to help take some pressure off the secondary.
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Updated October 7, 2019