The Houston Texans stiff-armed another Matthew Stafford comeback bid, downing the Detroit Lions (4-4), 20-13. Houston moved to 5-3 — 5-0 at home — to stay atop the AFC South. Here is what you need to know:
1. The Texans jumped out to a 14-0 lead and fended off a Lions comeback. Brock Osweiler earned the win but his performance won’t quell fans nerves about the quarterback. Osweiler was merely adequate against a bad Lions defense missing its best defensive tackle, best linebacker and top cornerback. Credit the quarterback for picking on a crummy Lions linebacker unit that can’t cover. Brock still doesn’t stretch the field, throws disgusting deep passes — one deep shot landing miles out of bounds — and is scatterbrained in the pocket when his first read is taken away. Even when DeAndre Hopkins was targeted, the star receiver had to make ridiculous catches just to earn 44 yards on four receptions. Osweiler completed 20 of 29 passes for 186 yards with a touchdown and an interception for an 83.4 passer rating against a Lions defense that entered the game allowing an 117.3 passer rating for the season, on pace for the worst in NFL history. With everything stacked in his favor, Brock was still average.
2. The Texans took advantage of their tight ends early against Lions linebackers that couldn’t stop C.J. Fiedorowicz early. Houston’s trio of tight ends compiled 10 receptions for 94 yards in the first half. Detroit adjusted in the second half, shutting down the middle of the field as the Texans‘ offense sputtered until late.
3. Matthew Stafford turned mortal this week, unable to pull off another come-from-behind victory. The Lions quarterback couldn’t connect down the field all game. Credit Houston’s corners A.J. Bouye and Kareem Jackson for sticky coverage, especially on Marvin Jones. Stafford was relegated to short tosses and check downs most of the afternoon, compiling just 240 yards on 41 attempts (5.9 average). Outside of the return of Eric Ebron (seven receptions for 79 yards on 10 targets) and Theo Riddick, Detroit was shut down. Stafford had been precise all season on intermediate and sideline throws, but we didn’t see the same accuracy or urgency from the Lions‘ offense Sunday.
4. Theo Riddick‘s return sparked a sleepy Lions offense. The shifty back caught eight passes for 77 yards, a touchdown and broke about 13 ankles. Riddick added 11 carries for 56 yards, mostly probing the edge of the Texans‘ defense. When he plays, Detroit’s offense has the potential to be more explosive than it displayed Sunday in Houston.
5. Lamar Miller entered with an injured shoulder and it showed early. The Texans subbed out their star back often. Behind shoddy blocking neither Miller or Alfred Blue did much for the first three-plus quarters. Prior to the final two drives, Houston was averaging under two yards per rush. Then they busted out to put the game on ice. On a field-goal drive to go up two scores, the Texans broke off runs of 8, 8, 10 and 19 yards. Houston rushed for 72 yards on the final two possessions to salt away the win.
Both the Lions and Texans provide flawed products that go annoyingly dormant for large stretches of game action. Sunday wasn’t perfect for coach Bill O’Brien (at one point flipping out on his special teams coordinator), but his team did just enough to stay undefeated at home.