The Houston Texans are laboring through yet another lost season in 2022, and endured more struggles in their Week 10 loss to the New York Giants. While they managed to move the ball with some consistency on offense, it rarely resulted in points, and the end result was Houston losing a winnable game by a score of 24-16.
At this stage of the season, wins don't really matter for the Texans, as they are now 1-7-1 on the season and have no shot at making the playoffs. The more they lose, the better their chances of landing the top overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft are. All the losing may be tough to bear right now, but when you are rebuilding, it typically comes with the territory.
With that being said, Houston had a decent shot of winning this contest, and had they played a cleaner game, they probably could have come out on top. Instead, they lost once again, and with their latest loss now in the books, let's take a look at three players who deserve most of the blame for this loss to the Giants.
3. Davis Mills
You almost have to feel bad for Davis Mills, as he continually finds his way onto these lists despite his best efforts. Mills actually had one of his better games of the season against New York (22/37, 319 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT) but it wasn't enough to lead to a win, and it ends with him being one of the players most responsible for this loss.
Mills generally had a successful day in the office, and if things went a bit different for Houston, he could have found himself on the list of players most responsible for the team's win. The Texans made six trips into the Giants red zone, but only managed to turn that into one touchdown, which isn't going to win you many games.
Mills also threw a costly interception just one play after he had a touchdown to Brandin Cooks taken away thanks to a holding penalty, and it took at least three more points off the board for the Texans. It wasn't his worst outing of the season, but Mills wasn't good enough to lead Houston to a win, and earns himself a spot on this list.
2. Dameon Pierce
Similar to Mills, this wasn't a horrible outing for Dameon Pierce, but he made a crucial mistake that may have cost the Texans this game. Pierce finished with 94 yards on 17 carries, while also hauling in two passes for 28 yards, but he coughed up a fumble in the red zone that cost the Texans their best opportunity to score a second touchdown on the day.
With the Giants leading 21-10 to begin the fourth quarter, the Texans had the ball on New York's nine yard line. After losing a yard on first and goal, Pierce appeared to pick up a pair of yards on second and goal, but lost the football in the process. The costly fumble wiped at least three more points off the board for Houston, and may have cost the Texans a chance to win this game.
Pierce still was the Texans most dynamic offensive player on the day, but his huge mistake alone earns himself a spot on this list. Pierce is doing the best he can with a subpar supporting cast on offense, but when he got the shot to deliver in this game, he fumbled the ball away in the red zone, and you can't make those types of mistakes if you want to win more than one game in a season.
1. The Texans run defense
While the Texans offense struggled to put points on the board, the defense didn't exactly do any favors for them throughout this game, especially when it came to their run defense. Rather than single out one player for their failure to show up in run defense, it only feels fair to single out the whole unit for their poor outing in this one.
The Giants offense rode Saquon Barkley to victory here, and there was really no reason for them to not do that. Barkley had a whopping 35 carries in this game for 152 yards and a touchdown, and the Texans simply had no answer for him throughout this game. Barkley controlled this game for New York like he has so many other times this season, and he's a big reason why the Giants won.
Conversely, the Texans lost because of their red zone struggles (noted above) and their inability to slow down Barkley. It wasn't as if Daniel Jones had a big game (13/17, 197 YDS, 2 TD) but he didn't have to do much because Barkley did everything for him. Had the Texans slowed down Barkley and forced Jones to throw more, they could have won this game, and their failure to do so falls on their run defense.