After going nine weeks without a lead change, the Redskins and Texans combined for two of them, as the Washington fell at home to Houston 23-21 in a matchup of first place teams. With the loss, Washington falls to 6-4, though they stay in first place in the NFC East. The Texans continue their amazing streak, after having started the season at 0-3, they have no reeled off eight straight wins to maintain their AFC South division lead.
After the Redskins went three-and-out on their opening drive, the Texans got on the scoreboard first, after their opening drive stalled in the red zone and they settled for a 23-yard Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal.
After another short Washington drive, the Texans struck again as Deandre Hopkins hauled in a 16-yard touchdown grab, capping off a 6-play, 69-yard drive to give the visitors a 10-0 lead. The touchdown grab for Hopkins marked his fifth straight game with a TD grab, tying a Texans franchise record.
Washington would respond on a drive that extended into the opening minutes of the second quarter as Adrian Peterson found pay-dirt from three yards out for his 104th career rushing touchdown, the sixth highest mark of all time, also tying John Riggins’ career mark. The score was the end result of a 10-play, 75-yard march down the field and trimmed the deficit to three, 10-7.
Adrian Peterson makes an absolutely disgusting cut and finds the endzone for the touchdown.— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoRCC) November 18, 2018
He's 33 years old, by the way.
That was his 104th rushing TD, moving him to 6th in NFL history.#Redskins pic.twitter.com/r94HbzsWA8
Also on the drive, Trey Quinn recorded his first career catch, setting up Washington in Texans territory:
Mason Foster came up large on the ensuing drive after Deshaun Watson was pressured and lofted the ball up into double coverage, Josh Harvey-Clemens tipped it into the hands of his fellow linebacker and the Redskins recorded the first interception against Watson since week six.
Watson was hit as he threw, causing ball to float more than he would have liked. Josh Harvey-Clemons shows off his athleticism and length, getting the tip on the ball that Mason Foster manages to intercept #Redskins pic.twitter.com/uQ7J5HaDwR— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) November 18, 2018
Both offenses traded punts, before the Redskins started to threaten, driving deep into Texans territory. On third and goal from the nine, Alex Smith made a rare, albeit devastating mistake; as he looked for Jordan Reed in the endzone, Smith instead threw his fourth interception of the year, this one Justin Reid returned 101 yards for the pick-six, giving the Texans a ten-point advantage and sucked the wind out of Washington’s sails.
Obvious confusion between Alex Smith and Jordan Reed on that pick 6.— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoRCC) November 18, 2018
Smith expected Reed to break to the outside, but instead Reed pivoted inside and sat still.
Not sure who to blame, but either way a 101yd pick six is an ugly result.#Redskins pic.twitter.com/h0TCUbcqbu
Smith’s misfortunes continued on their following drive. With 1:19 remaining in the half, the ‘Skins signal caller was picked off on a ball over the middle by Brennan Scarlett. Washington’s defense backed the Texans offense up to a 44-yard attempt which was missed wide left, and the damage was mitigated.
In the third quarter Washington forced turnovers on both of Houston’s first two offensive drives, first a fumble by Hopkins which was recovered by Mason Foster, then an interception by Preston Smith.
Between those two drives, Washington suffered a devastating blow, as Alex Smith was carted off the field with a cast on his lower leg in what appeared to be a gruesome injury that was reminiscent of Joe Theismann’s notorious leg injury that occurred 33 years ago on this exact date.
On in relief, Colt McCoy quickly got on the scoreboard connecting with Jordan Reed for a nine-yard touchdown grab to give the Redskins a 17-14 lead.
After the Texans connected on a field goal, Washington marched ten plays and 67 yards before Adrian Peterson found the end zone for the second time on the day giving the Redskins a 21-20 lead.
The Texans connected on another field goal to retake the lead 23-21, Fairbairn was called on again with 56 seconds remaining for a 45-yard attempt which he missed wide right, his second miscue of the day. Giving the Redskins one more opportunity to try to win the game.
Washington quickly moved into Texans territory with no timeouts left in their pocket the Redskins desperately tried to mount one final comeback, and called on Dustin Hopkins for a 63-yard attempt in the game’s final moments, but the kick fell five yards short to secure Houston’s victory.
Before going down with his injury Alex Smith led the offensive unit and went 12 of 27 for 135 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. On in relief, Colt McCoy racked up 54 yards on a 6 of 12 performance including one touchdown through the air in a little over a quarter of play.
Adrian Peterson led the way on the ground and carried 16 times for 51 yards and two scores, while both Redskins quarterbacks chipped in for over 30 yards apiece.
The leading receiver for Washington was Jordan Reed, who recorded seven catches for 71 yards and a score. Trey Quinn was the second leading receiver on a day he recorded his first NFL catch finishing with four grabs for 49 yards.
Defensively, one week after surrendering 500 yards to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington had their hands full with Deshaun Watson, Lamar Miller, and Deandre Hopkins. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix led the way with 13 total tackles including 11 solo stops, Mason Foster chipped in with 10 hits and a pass breakup, and Zach Brown finished with eight stops. Both Foster and Preston Smith recorded interceptions
Watson finished the day 16 of 24 for 208 yards, one touchdowns and two interceptions. Lamar Miller led the rushing game with 20 carries for 86 yards, while Keke Coutee led all receivers with five catches for 77 yards, while Watson tallied five catches, 56 yards and a touchdown.
With Alex Smith’s injury, we can all but assume that it’s Colt McCoy’s offense now, though it’s a situation he’s familiar with, having been put in the exact same situation when he posted 299 yards and a rushing touchdown in a national game four years ago. The Cowboys are next on Thanksgiving Day, and McCoy will be asked to do what he’s done before for Jay Gruden, though this time the stakes may be even higher.