The Houston Texans are finding their stride late in the season after a 41-25 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Thursday.
After starting the year 0-4 under Bill O'Brien, the Texans have won two straight and four of seven games under interim head coach Romeo Crennel.
Thanksgiving hasn't been kind to the Lions in recent years. This marks their fourth consecutive loss on the holiday and their fourth loss in the past five games after a 3-3 start in 2020.
Houston was able to take advantage of three Lions turnovers, converting them into 14 points. The Texans also scored a 34-yard touchdown on the first play after Detroit turned the ball over on downs.
Deshaun Watson continued his tremendous season with four more touchdown passes. He also surpassed the 300-yard mark for the second straight game.
Despite the loss, Matthew Stafford can take some solace in tying former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo for the most touchdown passes (18) on Thanksgiving Day. He also surpassed Joe Montana on the all-time touchdown passes list with 274.
Notable Game Stats
- Deshaun Watson, QB (HOU): 17-25, 318 yards, 4 TD; 8 carries, 24 yards
- Will Fuller V, WR (HOU): 6 receptions, 171 yards, 2 TD
- Brandin Cooks, WR (HOU): 5 receptions, 85 yards
- J.J. Watt, DE (HOU): 4 total tackles (2 solo), INT, TD
- Matthew Stafford, QB (DET): 28-41, 295 yards, TD, INT
- Adrian Peterson, RB (DET): 15 carries, 55 yards, 2 TD
- T.J. Hockenson, TE (DET): 5 receptions, 89 yards
Watson, Watt Anchor Texans' Thanksgiving Victory
Watson and J.J. Watt are the faces of Texans football, so it's only fitting they would shine brightest on the national stage.
Watt got the scoring started for Houston with an incredible interception on a Matthew Stafford pass that he returned 19 yards for the touchdown:
After Watt had his moment in the spotlight, Watson took over and did what he's done all year. The Texans quarterback has flown under the radar because of the team's struggles, but he's been as good as anyone in the NFL at his position in 2020.
Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes recognized Watson's talent during the game:
There was ample evidence to prove how special Watson is as he was picking apart this Lions secondary with surgical precision. He was particularly in sync with Will Fuller V for two big plays that turned into touchdowns:
Even though the odds remain stacked against the Texans making a playoff run with a 4-7 record, their schedule does line up favorably to potentially sneak their way into the playoff conversation.
Houston closes the season with two games against the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans. Those three AFC South matchups will be difficult, but the Texans took the Titans to overtime in Week 6 before eventually falling 42-36.
It's a long shot, but with Watson playing at such a high level, there's no reason to think they won't be a problem for opposing teams down the stretch.
Sloppy Play Sends Lions to Second Straight Defeat
As has been the case in so many Lions losses this season, they were their own worst enemy Thursday against the Texans.
Coming into today, Detroit had lost six of seven games in which it committed at least one turnover. The offense wasted little time sending the team down a bad path with Watt's pick-six by Watt in the first quarter.
The Lions were still ahead 7-6 at that point because of a missed extra point by Houston kicker Kaʻimi Fairbairn, but on their very next offensive play from scrimmage, Jonathan Williams' fumble was recovered by Bradley Roby.
Prior to the game, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Lions ownership's patience "is waning" with head coach Matt Patricia. Thursday's performance by the team seems unlikely to turn those feelings around.
Patricia is now 13-29-1 with the Lions since taking over as head coach in 2018. Former players, including Darius Slay, have spoken out against him.
Detroit hasn't ranked higher than 16th in scoring defense and 18th in scoring offense under Patricia's watch.
Kevin Clark @bykevinclark
One day we will look back on Matt Patricia and Adam Gase having head coaching jobs at the same time as one of those mind-blowing facts, in the same way we view that the pyramids were being built while wooly mammoths still roamed the earth. Just a special time for bad coaching.
It's not as if the Lions are devoid of talent. Stafford was playing the best football of his career last year with 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in eight games before spinal fractures ended his season.
Rookies D'Andre Swift, who was unavailable Thursday because of a concussion, and Jeff Okudah are promising young talents who could end up being key players for the franchise.
Patricia may not be the only problem for the Lions right now, but he doesn't appear to be doing much to help them get better on the field.
The Texans will host the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC South showdown on Dec. 6. The Lions will also have a divisional matchup on the same day, travelling to Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears.