HOUSTON — The Houston Texans offense looked sluggish from the start. Their first four offensive possessions were putrid, to put it mildly. Quarterback Davis Mills threw an interception on the third play of the game. Two possessions later, kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a 46-yard field goal.
Mix in two punts, and you can visualize Texans head coach Lovie Smith on the sideline wondering if his team knew that the game started at noon. Especially with how the Los Angeles Chargers began the game by scoring three touchdowns in their first four offensive possessions.
Houston was in need of an energy boost to get the crowd in attendance to turn those boos that were getting louder every time the offense left the field to cheers.
Only one person on that entire offensive unit could bring the type of excitement that would have been the equivalent of drinking four Red Bulls, and that was rookie running back Dameon Pierce.
The fourth-round pick out of Florida is known to bring a rugged running style and energy every time he touches the ball, and that was on display when he took the handoff from Mills with just over 10 minutes left in the second quarter with his team trailing 21-0.
Pierce, behind the blocking of his fullback Troy Hairston and tight end O.J. Howard broke through the right side of the line and ran 75-yards for a touchdown to get the Texans on the board and put some life back into NRG Stadium.
It was the third longest rushing touchdown in Texans history behind former running backs Lamar Miller (97 yards) and Justin Forsett (81 yards).
“It’s a play that we have been working on all week and in practice we couldn’t get it right, but in the game, it worked out perfect,” said Pierce after the game. “Shout out to T-Roy (Troy Hairston) for setting that initial block. I came off of him and the rest was history. When you have a guy that can run 23-miles-per-hour you shouldn’t get caught.”
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Although the Texans lost to the Chargers by a score of 34-24 to keep them winless on the year, Pierce was finally able to display the value he brings to a struggling Houston offense as he finished the day with 131 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown for his first NFL career 100-yard game.
Only Alfred Blue (156) and Steve Slaton (156) have rushed for more than 130 yards in a game.
“There’s a reason why we’re starting a rookie running back,” said Texans head coach Lovie Smith. “Of course, he can run in between the tackles. He can make you miss in open field, but that’s the part of his game that we haven’t seen. Not many running backs going, what was it, 75 yards or so? In the NFL, that’s hard to do. He is just kind of showing you all of the things that he can do. I don’t know exactly how many carries he was able to get today, but he is a guy that we need to continue to feature.”
Before the media dispersed from around Pierce’s locker, he proudly displayed the ball from his touchdown run.
“This is going to my momma,” said a smiling Pierce. “This is her first time coming to Texas (Houston) to see her baby play.”