By Elwyn Henderson
The Houston Texans played their first and only preseason game at NRG Stadium in Houston Saturday afternoon, taking on the Miami Dolphins. Houston came in a 1-0 in preseason action and the Dolphins came in at 0-1. The game was also a homecoming for KeKe Coutee who was with the Texans for a couple of years in the past. He signed with the Dolphins a couple of days before the game.
Houston won the coin toss to begin the contest. They chose to defer to the second half and Miami received the opening kickoff from Ka’imi Fairbairn. The kick was taken by De’Von Achane who returned the ball from his 1 out to his 17 and Miami set up shop for their first possession.
On the first play of the game, Tua Tagovailoa threw a pass over the middle that was intercepted by Denzel Perryman at his 26. He returned the ball to the 7 and CJ Stroud and the Houston offense hit the field.
The Miami defense was solid on the possession and on 4th and goal from the 7 Stroud’s pass fell incomplete and the Dolphins went back on offense from their 7.
Tua led his unit down the field and Raheem Mostert ran into the end zone from the 2 with 5:30 left in the first quarter. Jason Sanders split the uprights on the extra point and Miami led 7-0. The drive was 14 plays, 93 yards and took 7:31 off the clock.
Following the score, Desmond King took the ensuing kick at his 3 and returned the ball up to the 22 where Stroud and company took over for their second possession. The offense moved down to the Dolphin 17 and on a 4th and 5 Fairbarn notched a 35-yard field goal with 14:53 left in the first half to bring the score to 7-3. The drive was 11 plays, 61 yards and took 5:37 off the second quarter clock.
The Houston defense forced a three-and-out on the next Miami possession, and following a Jake Bailey punt Houston began their next drive at their 34. The Dolphins forced a three-and-out of their own and following a 62-yard Cameron Johnston punt into the end zone the visitors set up offensively once again.
Skylar Thompson came in a quarterback and led a TD drive that culminated with 2:45 left in the half when Thompson hit Salvon Ahmed from 8 yards out for the score. The PAT by Sanders was good and the Miami lead advanced to 14-3. The drive was 15 plays, 80 yards and took 8:07.
The Dolphins padded the score further before the first half came to a close when Thompson hit Braxton Berrios with 10 seconds left in the half on an 18-yard TD pass. The extra point kick by Sanders was good and Miami went up 21-3. The drive was 5 plays, 82 yards and took 1:33.
There was no further scoring until 34 seconds left in the third quarter. The score came when Mike White hit Chris Brooks on an 18-yard TD pass. Sanders added the extra point and Miami extended their lead to 28-3. The drive was 14 plays, 91 yards and took 5:38.
With all the third and fourth players in the depth chart in for the rest of the game there was no additional scoring before the final gun.
Coach DeMeco Ryans met with the media following the disappointing performance and began with an opening statement praising rookie quarterback C. J. Stroud.
“I think overall just with the operation of the offense, I thought C.J. [Stroud] was more efficient. He felt more comfortable, and I think just everyone around him played better, which allowed him to play better. So, I’m proudof the progression that C.J. took this week. That’s what we want to see. You want to see improvement week to week, and that’s what we saw this week. So, I’m proud of what C.J. did.”
Ryans was asked where he thought the struggles on the part of the defense came from in the game. “I think overall as a team where we struggled is situational football. If you want to win games, defensively you have to get off the field on third down. We didn’t. Offensively, you’ve got to convert on third down. We didn’t. When you do that, you stall out drives and the offense can’t continue to make plays, and that hurts us. Then we also go to the situation of the red zone. They get into the red zone, they convert every time. We’re in the red zone, and we don’t convert. So, it always comes back to situational football. You don’t own those situations, you’re going to lose football games.”
When C.J. Stroud came in for his postgame interview he was asked what he thought about his overall performance in the game and what positives he developed since last week.
“First and foremost, I want to give all glory and praise to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I have another opportunity to play football in the game I love. I feel like I took a step. Definitely got to clean up some things, but overall, I felt like I got in a good rhythm, and I started playing football like I’m used to. It felt good. Great protection up front. Ran the ball pretty decently – just off a few things here and there. Just got to clean those up, man, but it’s a blessing that we’re able to get it done now in preseason so we can take that next step going into joint practice with New Orleans.”
Houston closes out their preseason schedule next Sunday night, August 27th when they face the New Orleans Saints on the road. Houston will spend most of this coming week in the Big Easy in joint practices with the Saints. The game is scheduled for a 7 PM kickoff on Fox.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 19, 2023