Deshaun Watson, Texans need to get back to limiting turnovers

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans‘ win streak was extended to seven games on Sunday. But another important streak was snapped.

The Texans (7-3) entered their Week 11 victory against the Washington Redskins having gone three straight games without committing a turnover, the longest such streak in franchise history. Coach Bill O’Brien has repeatedly talked about the importance of winning the turnover battle, calling it one of the most important stats in football.

Against the Redskins, the Texans turned the ball over three times and were minus-1, although one of their two takeaways was an interception that rookie safety Justin Reid returned 101 yards for a touchdown.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 16 of 24 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also fumbled after he was sacked early in the second quarter, but it was recovered by left tackle Julie’n Davenport. Watson said the Redskins made “three great plays” on the turnovers.

“It’s the National Football League,” Watson said. “They get paid just like we do. We just have to continue to do a better job, but that’s part of the game.”

Watson’s fumble was his first since Week 6. On the next play, he threw an interception into traffic on a pass intended for slot receiver Keke Coutee. Although the Redskins couldn’t take advantage of the turnover, they scored two plays after his second interception on a screen pass that was tipped by Redskins linebacker Preston Smith.

“I think there were some things that were out of his control and other things he can improve on,” O’Brien said of Watson’s performance Sunday. “This guy has played so hard for us, played so tough and made so many big plays for us.”

One of those big plays was a laser to receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a 16-yard touchdown pass on the Texans’ first drive. After that, the Texans’ offense fell into the inconsistency it has displayed for much of the season. Houston did not score another offensive touchdown, finishing 1-of-3 in the red zone and 4-of-11 on third downs.

After the success Watson had on the Texans’ first two drives — he was 7-of-8 for 98 yards and a touchdown — he completed just nine of his 16 final passes for 110 yards and two interceptions.

The past two games of this Texans win streak have ended with opponents missing last-second field goal attempts. Against the Broncos in Week 9, Houston scored a touchdown on its first possession but made it into the end zone just one more time — on a drive that started on the Denver 22 after the defense forced a fumble.

Just one of Houston’s seven straight victories has come against a team that is above .500 right now, and the Texans do not play a team over .500 in their six remaining regular-season games.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, during this seven-game win streak, Houston has had five games in which it had less than a 50 percent chance to win at some point in the fourth quarter or overtime. The Texans will certainly take the victories however they come, but it will be harder to squeak out a win in the playoffs or against a better team than those they have faced of late.

Their next game comes on Monday Night Football against the visiting Tennessee Titans (5-5), who beat the Texans in Week 2.

Although O’Brien knows there are improvements to be made, he is confident that Watson will get the Texans back to the consistency they have shown at times this season.

“[Watson] gives everybody hope because he is a helluva young player,” O’Brien said. “We’ll watch the tape and try to get ready for the next game. We have a real tough opponent coming up.

“I do think that that’s a good thing when you’re winning, that you’re able to stand up in front of your team, put the film on and say, ‘Look, this is good, but this still is not very good, and if it doesn’t get better, it’s not going to be very good on Monday night.'”

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