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Other Week 13 Game Recaps

Week 13 Game Recap: Houston Texans 21, Buffalo Bills 30

What you need to know

Houston Texans

- Jaelen Strong was active for the first time in nearly three games. Had two targets but not much else. - Akeem Hunt continues to see time but not enough to warrant more than a mention. Had two total touches. - C.J. Fiedorowicz is now the second tight end on the depth chart and now is an after thought in the passing game. He has one reception.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills sure do like their direct snaps and fleaflickers. It does not tend to work but Rex Ryan will keep trying them. Even with the poor completion percentage, Taylor had one of his better games as a Bill. He was confident in the pocket, escaped when he needed to but not before, and hit a few deep throws. With Karlos Williams out, the only running threat the Bills have is LeSean McCoy; McCoy will not lose snaps to the players behind him, especially not against the Eagles this weekend. Sammy Watkins may finally be emerging as the elite threat that he has the potential to be and the Bills need to involve him to have success.

Houston Texans

QB Brian Hoyer, 76 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 43 - 293 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 15 - 0
Overall on the stat page if was a solid day for Brian Hoyer. There were some inaccurate throws and close to 4-5 drops on the day from his receivers. Hoyer had key scoring drives and targeted the middle of the field to Nate Washington, Cecil Shorts and Ryan Griffin to start the day off. Hoyer hit Ryan Griffin with an 8 yard touchdown pass to close out the first quarter. Shorts was a key target for Hoyer bitting him for 11, 23, 17, 15 and 14 yards out of the slot. Hoyer tried to push the ball down field to Washington but could not complete the deep balls on two tries. Hoyer’s biggest drive when he targeted DeAndre Hopkins and capped it off with a 19 yard touchdown pass to him in the end zone. Hoyer continues to throw the ball to Hopkins in one-on-one situations and had two throws of 23 and 29 yards on a drive. After that Hoyer could not find Hopkins consistently. Hoyer had a late interception throwing a hail mary attempt to end the game.

RB Chris Polk, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 61 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 1 (1 targets)
Polk ended up being the go-to back for the offense and it was a surprise. He had his longest run of the season for 20 yards and after that averaged 4.0 yards a run on the other 10 carries. The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and made life easy for Polk running the ball. Polk got into the end zone on a 11 yard pass to the flats while running over a defender in the process and diving over the pylon. Today was easily the most productive day of Polk in a Texans uniform.

RB Jonathan Grimes, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 28 - 0, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (2 targets)
Grimes continues to produce when he gets his hands on the ball. With five rushes, his long was a 17 yard run on a 3rd and long draw play. He only had 11 yards after that point on four carries. Grimes had two receptions in the passing game for 15 yards with 11 being his long. Grimes had a good 17 yard reception negated by a block in the back after he broke two tackles. He continues to get looks in 2nd and 3rd and long situations, he is still the Texans most well rounded running back.

RB Alfred Blue, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 14 - 0
Blue started that game for the Texans and after four carries he found himself watching from the sideline. His long carry for the day was four yards and saw limited time for the remainder of the game. Blue was passed over for Jonathan Grimes and Chris Polk.

WR Cecil Shorts, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 6 - 91 - 0 (10 targets)
It was Cecil Shorts most productive game in some time through the air. Shorts had receptions for 11, 14, 15, 17, and 23 yards on the afternoon. Getting behind the defense, he had success running crossing routes to get open for Hoyer. He is starting to understand the offense and is able to read defenses better and that was on display after he settled into a zone after reading the blitz off the corner for a 14 yard gain. Shorts did miss a big opportunity late, that would have been a first down after he was hit hard and dropped a first down.

WR Nate Washington, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 44 - 0 (11 targets)
The Texans worked Washington more underneath in the passing game. His longest reception was on an out route for 13 yards but was mainly doing his work in simple underneath routes. Washington again was plagued with the drops and had two more added to his total today. The Texans did try to get Washington vertical twice down the middle of the field but both fell incomplete with two balls that were under thrown into double coverage.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, 76 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 88 - 1 (9 targets)
It was a quiet day for DeAndre Hopkins except for one drive during the game. Hopkins had three receptions on one drive of 23, 29 and 19 with the one-on-one match-ups favoring Hopkins. On his 19 yard touchdown reception, Hoyer threw a 50-50 ball to Hopkins and he showed his ability to high point the football. Hopkins had a critical drop early in the game and dropped a low ball late in the 4th quarter that he should have caught.

TE Ryan Griffin, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 1 (5 targets)
He is clearly becoming the go-to target in the passing game. With only three receptions on the day, Griffin’s touchdown catch came on a 8 yard toss. He chipped in with receptions of 14 and 7 yards late in the game but it is clear they want to get Griffin involved more to balance out the offense.

Buffalo Bills

QB Tyrod Taylor, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 11 - 21 - 211 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 28 - 1
Despite a horrid completion percentage, Taylor was directly connected to all four Bills' TDs against the Texans. None of his three passing TDs required great throws but performing the routine well is a necessary aspect of good QB play. Taylor's passing ability was better shown in his manipulation of the pocket and the throwing of deep completions that moved the Bills down the field. He was not without mistakes however. Late in the game Taylor started playing more loose with his throws and had two balls almost intercepted. Taylor's main virtue as a QB has been protecting the ball. But at some point he will stop getting lucky and his interception numbers will increase accordingly.

Taylor has become more of a pocket passer as the season has gone on but he seems to be getting his legs back. The second TD of the day for the Bills had Taylor rolling left, outrunning a linebacker to the edge, shaking off the attempted push out-of-bounds, and diving for the pylon past another defender. That play exemplifies what the Bills hope Taylor can be, a QB who can make the throws but can also turn on the jets when he needs to.

RB LeSean McCoy, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 112 - 0 (1 targets)
McCoy is still doing McCoy things. He is very talented at knowing when to reverse the field and his speed almost always ensures McCoy made the right decision. It happened twice against the Texans where a run going one direction for no gain suddenly became a huge gain on the other side of the play. And when McCoy does go up the gut, his quick moves in the scrum necessitate more than one defender to bring him down. The one downside to this game for McCoy was his lack of involvement in the passing game. He only received two targets with one of the plays called back for holding. However, this may actually be a positive for Tyrod Taylor as he did not feel the need for check-downs. McCoy has consistently been targeted this season so his receptions should be higher in the last few weeks.

RB Mike Gillislee, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 41 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)
Gillislee was promoted from the practice squad before this game to replace Karlos Williams as the backup running back. Other than six attempts for the Dolphins in 2013, these were Gillislee's first runs in an NFL game. His first carry went very well; the blockers gave him space and Gillislee made it to the edge and up. Nothing else came for Gillislee after that with all of his attempts being short and standard. Gillislee is not a threat to either LeSean McCoy or Williams.

RB Anthony Dixon, 2 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0
Dixon received just one carry to Mike Gillislee's seven. A player just promoted from the practice squad outsnapped him, Dixon is not a factor in this offense.

WR Sammy Watkins, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 109 - 1 (4 targets)
Watkins put together back-to-back 100+ yard games for the second time in his young career. His first TD was a decent catch but one that any NFL WR would be expected to make. His true ability was better shown through his other three (non-fleaflicker) targets. On the first, Watkins split the defense for a 53 yard gain. The second had Watkins making an athletic jumping catch for 21 yards but the ball was brought back for holding. The third had Watkins badly beat his defender for another 53 yard gain. Watkins has been playing like he deserves the most targets but oddly he didn't receive them against the Texans.

WR Robert Woods, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 19 - 1 (5 targets)
Woods collected the third TD of the day for the Bills but not much else. He beat his defender one-on-one in a come-back route in the endzone and was right where he needed to be for the quick release. Both of his receptions were good plays but the Bills would like better output on five targets.

WR Chris Hogan, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (3 targets)
The third WR both in amount of targets and in quality of play, Hogan was not memorable in a game with only 11 receptions. The Bills' offense does not have many opportunities for players far back in the depth chart to consistently stand out.

TE Charles Clay, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 66 - 1 (7 targets)
Of Clay's four receptions, two of them were screens. Clay is tough to tackle and tends to drag defenders but the Bills need a threat in the middle of the field more than they need a screen target. Clay may have become that middle of the field threat against the Texans but it remains to be seen. He got himself open down the middle for a deep target that Tyrod Taylor threw well. However, Clay let the ball clunk off his hands. More positively, the game-winning score involved Clay walking clean into the endzone through the middle of the field. But even then, Clay did not have a defender on him at any point, the designed route found a major hole in the zone. After Watkins, Clay is the best receiving option that the Bills have and his most targets in the game reflect the talent. But the Bills need to use him more in the middle of the field than they currently do.