HOUSTON — Deshaun Watson spent most of the Houston Texans’ 16-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers under pressure, getting sacked six times, including a strip sack with a little more than four minutes left.
After some struggles to start the season, it seemed as if the offensive line took a step forward the previous Sunday, allowing just two sacks in a victory over the Chargers. But after a back injury to Zach Fulton — who was not on the injury report this week — the Texans used their fourth different starting offensive line in four games. Guard Greg Mancz filled in for Fulton at right guard.
The Panthers finished with eight quarterback hits.
The Texans did have success in the running game, combining for 136 yards on 22 carries. Carlos Hyde finished with 58 yards on 12 attempts, and Duke Johnson had 56 yards on six carries, including a 40-yard run in the second quarter. Last week, Houston ran for a combined 39 yards.
QB breakdown: Watson completed 21 of 33 passes for 160 yards, averaging just 4.8 yards per attempt. He did score the Texans’ only touchdown, on a 1-yard run in the third quarter. Watson spread the ball around again, throwing passes to eight players. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had five catches for 41 yards on eight targets.
Promising trend: It was the Texans’ defense that kept Houston in the game, with three strip sacks. The offense took advantage of the short field only once, though, scoring the Texans’ lone touchdown after J.J. Watt forced and recovered a fumble in the third quarter. Whitney Mercilus continued his strong season with a sack, forced fumble and quarterback hit.
Eye-popping stat: In franchise history, passers who aren’t quarterbacks are 6-of-19 on pass attempts with four touchdowns and three interceptions, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Why did this come up? In the second quarter, Hopkins attempted to complete a pass to Hyde but his pass was intercepted by cornerback Ross Cockrell. Hopkins is the first non-quarterback to throw a red zone interception since Shane Vereen in 2017. It was Hopkins’ second pass attempt in his NFL career; in 2018 against the Bills, Hopkins threw an incomplete pass.