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Houston's offense rarely seems to work as it's designed. For good or bad, Deshaun Watson plays to his own script. That unpredictability is both a blessing and a curse. On the Texans' final touchdown drive, Watson threw a terrible interception down the left sideline. Under pressure, trying to drive the ball off his back foot into double coverage, Houston was hugely fortunate to be saved by offsetting penalties. A few plays later, he miraculously escaped pressure and found a wide open tight end for a long touchdown. Greater structure would definitely help Houston's long-term prospects, but for now, Watson's rare talent is winning them games.
Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson had almost nothing to work with on the ground but managed to contribute in other ways. Hyde illustrated his skills in the red zone with some power football down by the goal line, one of the few successful carries all day. Johnson proved highly elusive in the passing game, adding yards after the catch on a number of Watson's desperate checkdowns. The backfield dynamic in Houston is healthier than it has been for a while.
JJ Watt was a one-man wrecking crew against the Chargers. His number could be found swimming within Los Angeles' backfield throughout the contest. He amassed an amazing number of pressures and kept the Chargers from equaling the score on the final drive.
While the secondary found itself being dismantled by the Phillip Rivers-led air brigade, the Houston defense quietly shut down the Chargers' rushing attack. Between the efforts of JJ Watt, DJ Reader and Zach Cunningham, the Los Angeles offense was forced into a one-dimensional corner as it fought to even the score.
Rookie offensive linemen Max Scharping and Tytus Howard had up-and-down performances against Los Angeles. Neither of the two was awful in pass protection, but they each earned multiple negative marks as run-blockers.
The Chargers' secondary would be terrifying if not for a host of injuries. A couple of standouts remain, however, including Desmond King and Casey Hayward. King had a Jekyll and Hyde kind of day, though, committing a pair of crucial penalties on blitzes despite beating blocks to get pressure on Watson. He also gave up a long gain through the air on a simple slant route. On the other hand, King made an impressive pass deflection and flashed physicality against the run.
Denzel Perryman will show up on plenty of highlight reels, but consistency is a major issue. He is always playing out of control. He missed a number of tackles against the run, including on one snap where he was totally unblocked in the hole and barely made contact with Houston's running back. Perryman can be an asset at times, but he struggled mightily against the Texans.
Phillip Rivers did everything he could for the city of Los Angeles to avoid falling to 1-2. While the immense yardage output and multiple touchdown passes were nice, Rivers' finest toss ended up hitting the ground on a deep fade to Travis Benjamin that traveled 39 yards in the air, but Benjamin dropped the pass as he crossed the goal line for what would have been the tying points just after the two-minute warning.
This contest put many perfomances on display and another for the Chargers that stood out among the best was from Keenan Allen. Time and again, Rivers went to his superstar receiver to help guide the team to tie the score. While the loss stings, Allen generated a career performance against a skilled Houston secondary.
Jerry Tillery has struggled to make a positive impact playing a rotational role in the Bolts' defense. He had another forgettable day against Houston.