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Granted a good amount of his 309 passing yards were collected on significantly busted coverages, Drew Lock displayed tremendous poise throughout the game. The Texans’ defensive line actually put consistent pressure on the Missouri alum. However, Lock never ducked away from the approaching defenders, kept his eyes downfield and made only a single costly mistake in the 38-24 victory. His most impressive pass of the day was aimed toward Tim Patrick on a go that collected 37 yards, 33 in the air, with Vernon Hargreaves III in coverage.
In addition to the stellar day for Lock, Phillip Lindsay made the most of available lanes with many forced away from the intended gaps. Iowa rookie tight end Noah Fant began Lock’s big yardage day on the offenses very first play with a 48-yard gain on a busted coverage. He added the majority of his receiving yards total on coverage busts before leaving late with an injury.
Safety Kareem Jackson enacted revenge on his former team. The veteran defensive back made big play after big play. It started with him taking a lateral from Jeremiah Attaochu and returning it 70 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. He also had a couple of pass breakups, an interception and a few key stops.
While Denver did a solid job in coverage, they struggled against the run early on. Specifically, they were gashed by Carlos Hyde, as he consistently found wide-open rushing lanes. Fortunately for Denver, the major shift in the game script forced the Texans to almost completely abandon the run.
With the Broncos putting 38 on the scoreboard, a good amount of tackle opportunities would be expected to be available, and linebacker Zach Cunningham stacked the stat sheet well over a dozen total tackles. Whenever the Texans' defense made a defensive stop, it seemed Cunningham was either involved or very near the play. He also collected multiple tackles for loss, proving to be the lone bright spot on defense, sans DJ Reader and crew along the defensive line.
It was a very long day for linebackers in coverage other than Cunningham, and for the entire secondary going up against a rookie quarterback with one NFL start under his belt. The only defensive back that stood out was Tashaun Gipson Sr., who collected the only interception when Lock misread the coverage on a back-shoulder go to Courtland Sutton in the third quarter.
DeAndre Hopkins seemed to be the only receiver that could get open for the Texans. Hopkins produced a monster day, which was heavily aided by his 43-yard touchdown catch against busted coverage midway through the third quarter.
With Houston's receivers struggling to get separation, Deshaun Watson improvised by escaping the pocket to create new throwing lanes. Despite the effort, many of his throws were made short of the markers, as Hopkins was his only reliable deep threat.