By Jay Skurski
News sports reporter
1. They’re Buffalo’s second straight opponent to come in on a hot streak. Sunday’s victory over New Orleans was the fourth straight for Houston, taking them from 2-5 to 6-5, right in the thick of the races for both the AFC South championship and a wild-card playoff spot. Texans coach Bill O’Brien told his team it would be a new season coming out of its Week Nine bye, and that’s been the case. A 10-6 victory over the previously unbeaten Bengals in Week 10 seems to have sparked Houston’s turnaround.
2. The defense put an end to a long streak Sunday. Not since coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees teamed up in New Orleans in 2006 had the Saints failed to score a touchdown — a streak of 155 games that ranked second in NFL history. Until Sunday, that is. Houston held the Saints to just a pair of field goals in a 24-6 win. It was a completely dominant performance from the Texans’ defense, which over its past 18 quarters has allowed only two touchdowns.
3. J.J. Watt is still a beast. Fueling that defense is Watt, the Texans’ freak-of-nature defensive end. He had two more sacks Sunday, increasing his season total to an NFL-leading 13.5. He has 70 career sacks in 75 games played, the second-fastest player in league history to reach that number — trailing only Hall of Famer Reggie White. With five games remaining, Watt could reach 20 sacks for the second straight season.
4. They finally got off to a good start. The Texans scored on their opening possession Sunday for the first time all season. Quarterback Brian Hoyer, who missed Week 11 because of a concussion, completed his first 11 passes of the day, finishing the game 21 of 27 for 205 yards and two touchdowns. In eight games played, Hoyer has compiled a passer rating of better than 100 in five of them. “I think for me it made me more hungry to get back out there, especially seeing the success that they had last week,” Hoyer told ESPN of missing last week’s game. “I just want to be out there and be part of the team.”
5. O’Brien’s job seems to be safe. A four-game winning streak pretty much guaranteed that, but if there was any doubt, owner Bob McNair’s comments to the Houston Chronicle after Sunday’s game took them away. “I think he’s doing a fine job,” McNair told the newspaper. “We had a lot of work to do. I think he’s got everybody pointed in the right direction and on the same page working together.”