The Houston Texans could not stop Carolina running back Christian McCaffery as the Panthers handed the Texans their second loss of the season, 16-10 at NRG Stadium on Sunday.
McCaffery rushed 27 times for 93 yards and a touchdown, and he caught 10 passes for 86 yards, even though the Texans knew the ball would end up in McCaffery’s hands almost every play.
“McCaffery is a great player. We couldn’t stop him,” Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien said.
Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen, in just the third start of his young career, played like a seasoned veteran as he completed 24 of 34 passes for 232 yards. Allen did give up two fumbles, but the Texans could only turn one of them into a touchdown.
After the teams traded field goals in the first half, the Texans drove to the Carolina 18 yard line where Deshaun Watson handed off to Deandre Hopkins who attempted a pass to Carlos Hyde, but it was intercepted by Ross Cockrell. The Panthers then moved 54 yards in five plays with McCaffery scoring a touchdown on a 3-yard run to make the score 10-3 at halftime.
“The Hopkins pass was just a bad play call,” O’Brien said. “We have to do better.”
The Texans tied the game in the third quarter when J.J. Watt forced Allen to fumble and made the recovery at the Carolina 18 yard line. Four plays later, Watson ran around the left end for a 1-yard touchdown run.
But the Texans’ defense could not stop the Panthers as they kicked a field goal with 14:55 to go in the game to take a 13-10 lead, and then kicked another field goal with 0:31 to make the final score 16-10.
The Texans’ offense never got on track as Watson completed 21 of 33 passes for just 160 yards. The Texans missed out on two touchdowns as Watson overthrew both Will Fuller V and Hopkins by inches after they had beaten their defender.
“The game was very frustrating. Our defense created opportunities, but our offense couldn’t capitalize on those opportunities. I just have to make better decisions. On those two long passes, the ball just sailed on me and I over-threw them,” Watson said.
“The offense was terrible. I don’t have any answers right now as to what happened. I need to go back and figure out what happened. We just never go into a rhythm,” O’Brien said.
The Texans (2-2) will play the Atlanta Falcons (1-3) next Sunday at NRG Stadium.