HOUSTON — Less than a week after the Houston Texans fired head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, the team got its first victory of the season, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-14.
Interim head coach Romeo Crennel became the oldest coach to win a game after he took over for O’Brien this week, coaching in the game at 73 years and 115 days old. He is now 3-1 as an interim head coach in his career.
“I told them that they were better than their record showed going into the game. And I think they believed that, to a degree. And then they won the game, so now they might believe everything I tell them,” Crennel said with a smile.
After he took over for O’Brien, Crennel said he wanted to see a different attitude and energy from his players. He said he got that on Sunday.
“I saw the fight during the course of the game,” Crennel said. “I didn’t see anybody going to the tank when things went wrong. They said, ‘let’s go, let’s pick it up,’ and then boom. And that’s what they did. They picked it up and they fought all the way to the end.”
Despite throwing two interceptions, quarterback Deshaun Watson’s 359 passing yards were his most this season. It’s also the first time he has thrown for more than 300 yards in the regular season since Week 7 of 2019.
“We wanted to set the tone from the jump and get myself in a rhythm, because as far as I go, the offense goes,” Watson said.
A week after targeting Brandin Cooks only three times, Watson leaned on the veteran wide receiver. Cooks started the game with a 36-yard catch and had his best game with the Texans, finishing with eight catches for 161 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets.
“The reason he’s here is because he has ability and has produced in this league, and so today we were able to see what he can do,” Crennel said. “In the past four games, I know Deshaun has said when he made his read, Cooks wasn’t there, but today Cooks was there and they connected, and then once they started connecting, you keep feeding him. He had a great game.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Watson completed seven passes that traveled at least 15 yards downfield, his most since Week 16 of the 2018 season. Four of those were to Cooks. Entering the game, Cooks had three such catches all year.
Despite the huge game for Cooks, Watson spread the ball to eight different pass-catchers. Wide receiver Will Fuller, who had four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, has now scored in three straight games.
Running back David Johnson, who was acquired in a trade for DeAndre Hopkins in March, also had his best game of the season, running for 96 yards on 17 carries, including a 30-yard rush that came as the Texans were trying to put away the game with less than two minutes remaining.
Houston’s defense also hit another milestone: After entering the game as the only team in the NFL that had not forced a turnover, the unit had two takeaways Sunday.
Defensive end J.J. Watt, who reportedly got into a heated exchange with O’Brien earlier this season, tweeted after the victory Sunday: “FUN! Finally!!!”
Watt wasn’t the only one to have fun. According to the defensive end, Crennel’s dance moves in the locker room after the win “were a real treat.” Cornerback Bradley Roby said Crennel did everything from the “Soulja Boy” to the macarena and disco.
“It was pretty impressive,” Watt said. “There were certainly some old-school moves in there. But he had the locker room riled up. It was a pretty awesome atmosphere.”
Watson, who said he only caught the end because he was doing a postgame interview, vowed to get the win next week to get to see the repeat performance.
“Next week we get the victory, I’ll make sure that I can get in a little faster so I can see it,” Watson said.