J.J. Watt shines as Texans outlast Bills


The Houston Texans rode the coattails of J.J. Watt for a 23-17 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at NRG Stadium. Our takeaways:

1. J.J. Watt already had six quarterback hurries and a pass defense before tearing out Buffalo's heart in the third quarter with an 80-yard pick and score off an ugly lob from EJ Manuel. What won't show up in the box score: Watt swallowing up blockers and destroying the pocket all afternoon to keep the Bills at bay through the air. Watt single-handedly kept Houston in the game and looms as an early favorite to win his second Defensive Player of the Year.

2. Buffalo generated just six yards over its first three drives before leaning on the run to build an early 10-0 lead. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller combined for 93 yards at 4.2 yards per rush. It wasn't enough to offset another skittish performance from Manuel, who threw away the game with a pick on Buffalo's final drive. Manuel averaged just 3.1 yards per pass over an outrageous 25 first-half throws. His wideouts spent most of the day in a fog before the second-year passer found Mike Williams for an 80-yard score in the fourth quarter -- even so, he still threw for just 5.1 yards per pass.

3. Houston had its own problems, amassing just 12 rushing yards in the first half en route to a puny 37-yard day on the ground. Arian Foster has looked rejuvenated in recent weeks, but not against this Jim Schwartz-led defense.

4. Bills fans weren't surprised to see their old quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick struggle with a pair of interceptions. To be fair, his second pick was tipped at the line, but Fitzpatrick continues to throw his share of errant passes. Houston moved to 3-1 with this win, but I don't see much hope for a team held back by such mediocre quarterback play -- especially on third downs.

5. Randy Bullock saved the day for Houston with three second-half field goals led by an edgy 55-yarder that kept the Texans afloat.

6. We're feeling pretty good about "Making the Leap" candidate DeAndre Hopkins. After smoking Bills cornerback Corey Graham for a 35-yard touchdown, the freakishly athletic Texans wideout consistently outran Buffalo's secondary to pile up 64 yards off five grabs. His teammate, Andre Johnson, lost his first fumble in 82 games.

7. Sammy Watkins hasn't look fully healthy this season and continues to drop balls, but the Bills rookie caught his second touchdown pass of the year on a second-quarter strike that saw him fend off a Texans defender for the ball. He's shown special ability at the point of the catch.

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