Texans Fall To Panthers 16-10 At NRG Stadium

Brandon Scott
September 29, 2019 - 3:12 pm

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- A quarter through the season, the Houston Texans hold an even 2-2 record after falling to the Carolina Panthers 16-10 at NRG Stadium on Sunday. 

Houston was unable to get much going offensively and Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey repeatedly gashed the Texans defense. 

McCaffrey was the game leader in rushing and receiving yards, gaining 93 yards on 27 carries and another 86 yards receiving by catching all 10 of his targets.

It was his acrobatic catch that did not even result in Panthers points which eventually became problematic for the Texans. 

McCaffrey tipped the ball to himself on a short third-down pass from Kyle Allen before diving to make the catch. His momentum carried him over the first down before a Texans defender could touch him.

Texans head coach Bill O'Brien challenged the call, both the completion of the catch and the spot. But the play was upheld and the Texans were down to one timeout with about 11 minutes left to play. 

A late substitution forced the Texans to burn their final timeout with 4:11 to go.

The Texans never led Sunday. When they had an opportunity to take the lead late in the game, Panthers defensive tackle Vernon Butler strip sacked Deshaun Watson and safety Eric Reid -- who also pressured Watson on the blitz -- was able to recover.

They had one more chance at a hail mary attempt in the final seconds, but the pass fell incomplete.

After the game, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said the offense was "terrible" but he wasn't exactly sure why.

Watson was sacked six times, bringing that total to 18 on the season.

O'Brien did admit the playcalling was subpar. 

"We never got a rhythm," O'Brien said. "So, we got to figure that out. I don't know what that is. We've got to look at a lot of different things."

In addition to the loss, wide receiver Kenny Stills left the game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. 

RELATED: Texans WR Kenny Stills Leaves Game With Hamstring Injury

Carolina struck first with a 48-yard field goal by Joey Slye in the first quarter. Houston tied the game with its own 37-yard field goal by Ka'imi Fairbairn in the second quarter.

McCaffrey was able to score on a three-yard run with just over a minute to go in the second quarter and the Panthers carried a 10-3 lead into halftime.

"They do a good job. (McCaffrey) is a great player and give the Panthers a lot of credit," O'Brien said. "They did a better job than we did today and he's a great player. You have to know where he is on every play."

Watson rushed for the Texans only touchdown of the game in the third quarter, which was set up by a JJ Watt strip sack and recovery.

Houston didn't score again, though.

Slye field goals -- 55 yards in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter and 26 yards to seal the deal in the final 30 seconds -- gave Carolina its game-defining lead.

The Texans fall to 2-2 on the season, while the Panthers have won back-to-back games with Allen at quarterback. 

Houston hosts the Atlanta Falcons next week.