The Chargers jumped out to a hot start and led by 10 points at halftime. Keenan Allen had two touchdowns in the first two quarters and Philip Rivers was tossing it all over the field. The Texans, on the other hand, couldn't get anything going.
They did manage a score early in the second quarter, but the Chargers then answered with a field goal to reclaim the lead. Facing a double-digit deficit at the break, the Texans were either going to lie down or fight back.
They did the latter.
The Texans scored 14 unanswered points in the third quarter, one score coming from running back Carlos Hyde and the other from tight end Jordan Akins. The Texans then made it 20 unanswered points the following drive at the beginning of the fourth quarter, when Akins found the end zone again after a 53-yard catch and run.
The Chargers responded with a field goal the very next drive, but those would be the last points they would score. After forcing a Houston punt, the Chargers got the ball back with a little over four minutes left in regulation. Rivers took the offense 50 yards down the field to the Houston 34-yard line as time began to tick. It came down to the very last play -- a fourth-and-14 with 18 seconds left, where Rivers failed to hook up with Dontrelle Inman.
When it was all said and done, Watson outdueled Rivers in L.A., passing for 351 yards and three touchdowns as opposed to Rivers' 318 yards and two scores. The Houston defense did their part too, sacking Rivers five times as a huge second half propelled the Texans to their second victory of the season.
Why the Texans won
The Texans came out of the halftime break an entirely different team. Watson engineered back-to-back-to-back scoring drives, the pass rush reached another level and the secondary started to figure Rivers out. Houston knows how to battle, and they used that halftime break to take a step back and figure out how they wanted to attack this short-handed secondary and how they were going to stop the virtually unstoppable Rivers-to-Allen connection. For the third week in a row, the Texans battled until the last play. For the second week in a row, they came out on top.
Why the Chargers lost
There's not a single statistic or facet of this matchup that you can point to and claim, "This is what dismantled the Chargers," but I guess you could point to that final drive. Anytime you give Rivers the ball down a touchdown with four minutes left, you can almost guarantee he's going to get the job done. They got into enemy territory quickly, but stalled around the 40-yard line. Houston held Rivers and Co. out of the red zone, which ultimately won them the game. A subpar second half was capped off with a failed game winning drive. Like the Texans, the Chargers have played in three close games to start the 2019 season. Houston just appeared to want this one more.
The turning point of this matchup came near the end of the third quarter, when Akins caught the first of his two touchdowns. It marked the first time in this game that the Texans had a lead.
You can hear it in the stands. A mostly silent stadium made alive by pockets of Texans fans who were ecstatic at the run Houston was making. This was the game. The Texans never trailed after this point.
Play of the game
Watson is a bit of a magician at times. He knows when to step up in the pocket, or when to retreat. He uses his speed to break tackles and scramble for big plays. He showed off his escapability and playmaking ability again on Sunday, when he hooked up with Akins for a 53-yard score.
Watson escaped a couple of would-be tacklers, tucked it and just before he was about to take off, saw Akins streaking across the middle.
Plays like these show why Watson is an NFL star in the making. Athleticism, ability and football IQ. The former Clemson star has it all.
"We played 60 minutes." -- Texans head coach Bill O'Brien
The Chargers were feeling pretty confident at the halftime break, but the Texans came out and shellshocked them. They quickly acquired a lead and aggressively defended it.
Teams like the Texans have the potential to make deep postseason runs. Something they are aiming to do in 2019. Through Week 3, you can already tell they are battle-tested.
The Texans head back to Houston, where they will host the Carolina Panthers next week. Cam Newton's status for next Sunday is unknown, but Kyle Allen just defeated the Arizona Cardinals on the road, throwing for 261 yards and four touchdowns.
The Chargers travel to Miami, where they will take on the winless Dolphins. The worst team in the NFL fell 31-6 to the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday, but the insertion of Josh Rosen into the starting lineup did provide somewhat of a spark.
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