Fuller makes difference for Texans

Published 7:36 pm Monday, October 3, 2016

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans can thank rookie Will Fuller V for helping the team stand at 3-1 after a quarter of the season.

Fuller returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown Sunday at NRG Stadium as the Texans defeated South Division foe Tennessee 27-20.

The Texans jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter behind touchdown passes from Brock Osweiler to Fuller and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz. Then the offense started to stall after Osweiler threw two interceptions trying to force the ball into the hands of receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

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Tennessee (1-3) got two touchdown runs from DeMarco Murray in the second quarter, and a Nick Novak 45-yard field goal with 39 seconds left in the first half gave the Texans a 20-17 lead at the break.

The Titans got a 26-yard field goal from Ryan Succop to tie the game in the third before Fuller gave the Texans the lead for good.

“The blockers set it up perfectly,” Fuller said of the first Texans’ punt return for a touchdown since 2013. “All I had to do was run. It was wide open. [Alfred] Blue led me to the end zone. We were practicing that all week, using two punt returners. I’m happy they kicked my way this time.”

The touchdown took a little heat off Osweiler, who has thrown six interceptions in the team’s first four games.

“I was his biggest cheerleader as he was running down the sideline,” Osweiler said. “It was great to see the special teams come up with a big play like that. All 11 guys on the field did a helluva job.”


Sunday was the first time this season head coach Bill O’Brien called the offensive plays for the team.

It started out great as the Texans showcased the tight end position in the passing game. Fiedorowicz had a career-day with 48 yards on four receptions with a touchdown. Ryan Griffin hauled in three catches for 54 yards, one being a 45-yard reception.

The offense put up 17 points in the first three drives of the game before the interceptions continued to show up from Osweiler.

Hopkins was held to one reception.

“I think we were in pretty good tempo,” O’Brien said. “The key is to try to do a better job from the point forward of sustaining that throughout the game. I thought our players were really focused and got into a good rhythm and good tempo.”


Osweiler started the game hot. He had 160 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on 12-of-13 passing to start the game. He finished 25 of 37 for 254 yards with the two scores and two interceptions.

He targeted Hopkins six times, and two of those passes fell into the arms of Titans’ players. Hopkins’ catch came in the fourth quarter and was for 4 yards.

“It just boils down to decision-making, and that’s something I know I need to be better at,” Osweiler said. “I put the team in some very poor positions, and I know that…I will make better decisions. I promise you guys that I’m going to clean these interceptions up because that football team is working too hard, and they deserve better.”

O’Brien continued to stand by Osweiler, who even heard a few boos after each interception from the crowd on Sunday.


Sunday was the first game since 2010 the Texans have played without star defensive end J.J. Watt, who had started 83 straight games since being drafted.

Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, Benardrick McKinney all had a hand in making life easier without Watt.

Clowney picked up his second sack of the season and defensive back Quintin Demps intercepted Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota.

“It was just a miscommunication on my part,” Mariota said. “Delanie [Walker] did a great job of just sitting in the hole. Just a bad throw. I should have just put it on him a little more.”

The Texans’ defense did allow two touchdowns to Murray who was held to 3.8 yards after entering the game averaging 5.9 yards a tote.

McKinney led Houston with nine tackles and Clowney finished with two hits on Mariota along with the sack.


The Texans travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings in their new U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota was 3-0 heading into Monday’s game against the New York Giants.

Houston has a two-game lead in the South. Jacksonville, Tennessee and Indianapolis are all 1-3.

Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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