The Houston Texans fell behind early and fell short with a last-ditch rally as they lost at home to the Los Angeles Chargers, 34-24, in Week 4 of the 2022 NFL season. Here we’ll look at some takeaways from the Texans’ Week 4 loss.
The Texans were on the business end of an Austin Ekeler breakout game. They also couldn’t stop Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert, who passed for 340 yards and two touchdowns as the Chargers jumped out to a big early lead and held on.
Houston rallied and scored 17 straight points to close the gap to three with roughly 8 1/2 minutes remaining. The Chargers, however, put the game away with a 12-play, 84-yard drive capped by Ekeler’s 14-yard reception.
Los Angeles halted a two-game slide, while the Texans continued to be winless after four weeks.
Here are our four takeaways from the Texans’ Week 4 loss vs. the Chargers.
Never quit. pic.twitter.com/qtjvpa7fCA
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) October 2, 2022
4. Texans had no answer for Austin Ekeler
The Chargers’ rushing attack, headed by Austin Ekeler, had failed to get off to a good start this season. Entering this game, they had the fewest running yards per game in the NFL and had yet to score a rushing touchdown in the first three games.
However, against the Texans, the ground attack took off. Ekeler appeared to be the 2021 version of himself. Remember that he scored 20 touchdowns just a season ago. Ekeler got 19 touches in this game and went for 109 yards and three touchdowns.
“To get him going was big,” coach Brandon Staley said postgame. “I felt like he played like a captain today. Beyond Austin’s performance on the field, I felt like he really led our football team on offense, just played with the energy that he’s known for and just a complete performance by Austin.”
The Texans could not stop Ekeler at all, and they hope to do much better next week against James Robinson and the Jaguars.
3. Receiving corps was just okay
Although wide receiver Nico Collins had three receptions for 82 yards, he did not have any touchdown receptions for the Texans. Obviously, that hurt the offense. Collins, in fact, has yet to find the end zone this season.
Both Brandin Cooks and Rex Burkhead caught touchdown passes, which is good and something Houston fans would like to see more of this season. Cooks finished with 57 yards on seven receptions. He had a long of 20. Burkhead, meanwhile, had five catches for 39 yards on top of his touchdown. He had a long of 13.
In all, the Texans’ receiving corps was okay, though they finished with nearly 100 fewer yards than Chargers receivers. They’ll surely need to do better in Week 5.
2. Dameon Pierce was oh so good
The Texans may have faltered against the Chargers, but their rookie running back did not.
Dameon Pierce, a fourth-round pick, had his breakout game. The former Florida RB had 14 carries for 131 yards and a score. That included a 75-yard burst that helped the Texans’ offense keep up with Los Angeles.
Pierce’s running total in this game is the third-most by a Texans rookie. Pierce also had 9.4 yards per carry, which is the most since David Johnson’s 10.67 against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 27, 2020.
Pierce’s 75-yard touchdown run was also Houston’s longest play of the season so far. It was also the longest by a rookie since Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage scored a 75-yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15 of 2018.
It was a true statement game from Pierce, who seems like the lone bright spot for the Texans this season.
1. Davis Mills struggled yet again
Texans QB Davis Mills has always performed better at home than on the road. He also showed tremendous promise last year during the team’s 41-29 upset of the Los Angeles Chargers, which knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs.
Mills’ situation did not fare as well this time, though.
In this loss to the Chargers, the Stanford product finished 26-of-35 for 246 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. It was a game of great highs and very low lows for Mills, who is still trying to prove he can truly be Houston’s next franchise quarterback.
The game began with a badly thrown Mills pass that flew over Collins’ head and into the arms of a charging Chargers defensive back. It was a continuation of the offense’s downfield troubles that have plagued them all season.
The Texans tried to rally in the fourth quarter, but it fell short. At the conclusion of the game, Mills fired a sky ball on fourth down, resulting in his second interception of the game.
Houston is one of just two teams in the league that has yet to win a game, and Mills has yet to show that he is deserving of a second full season as quarterback for the Texans.