By Bill McCaughey
For the Fort Bend Star
With 11:03 to go in the first quarter, the Texans suffered a major blow to defending their AFC South championship when outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus suffered a torn pectoral muscle.
Four minutes later, they may have taken the knock-out blow when defensive end J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture of his left leg. Both players underwent surgery on Monday and are out for the season.
Without their two stars, the Texans’ defense could not get the Kansas City offense off the field, and lost 42-36, before a national television audience and a crowd of 71,835 at NRG Stadium Sunday night. The Texans fall to 2-3 for the season and are a game behind Jacksonville in the division.
“I thought we competed until the end and the next guys (behind Watt and Mercilus) are going to have to step up and play. We have to do a good job coaching and scheming, but that’s the National Football League – guys get hurt and the next guy in the team meeting room at that position needs to step up,” Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien said.
The Chiefs controlled the ball for almost 11 minutes of the first quarter, keeping Deshaun Watson off the field. Despite all of the possession time, the Chiefs could only score three points, keeping the Texans in the game.
The Chiefs continued to control the ball and the game by holding the ball for 10:39 in the second quarter. The Texans were able to score with 2:28 to go in the half when DeAndre Hopkins scored on a 6-yard pass from Watson. Kansas City led at halftime 23-7.
In the first half, the Chiefs converted 7 of 10 third downs as they controlled the ball for 21:35.
The Texans were able to cut the lead in the third quarter to 23-13 when Watson hit Will Fuller for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
The action picked up in the last quarter. After a Kansas City field goal, Fuller caught a 48-yard pass from Watson to bring the Texans to within one score, 26-20.
But Alex Smith hit De’Anthony Thomas for a 10-yard scoring pass, and Tyreek Hill ran back a Texans’ punt for 82 yards, putting the Chiefs comfortably ahead 39-20.
Watson would not give up as he found Hopkins for a 34-yard touchdown pass. The Chiefs added a field goal, and Watson hit Hopkins for a 1-yard touchdown pass as time ran out, with the score 42-34.
For the game, the Chiefs had 450 total yards to the Texans 392. The Texans outrushed the Chiefs 144 to 127. But the key to the game was the Chief’s converting nine of 16 third downs and keeping Watson off the field. The Chiefs final time of possession was 38:17 to the Texans 21:43.
“They just played better than us. It’s as simple as that. We had the opportunities we didn’t take advantage of and they got us off the field and their offense stayed on the field,” Watson said.
For the Texans, Watson was 16 of 31 for 261 yards and five touchdowns. Lamar Miller rushed for 74 yards on 15 carries.
The Texans host the Cleveland Browns at noon Sunday.