Offensive line helps rev up Texans’ offense

Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown in Thursday's win over Miami.Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — The Texans had an offensive explosion in a convincing 42-23 win over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night.

Deshaun Watson had more passing touchdowns (5) than incompletions (4) and used four offensive plays of at least 30 yards to power what had been a dormant attack over the past few weeks.

The biggest change that has led to Houston’s turnaround is the play of the offensive line over the past two weeks.

“Very proud, very proud,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said of his offensive line. “Those guys they work hard — Julien Davenport, Senio Kelemete, Nick Martin, Greg Mancz, Kendall Lamm, Martinas Rankin coming in there and playing heavy tight end for us. They’ve got a great group and they’re very well coached by Mike Devlin.

“Mike does a great job. It’s not an easy position to coach and very proud for those guys. So, hopefully there are some games balls coming their way.”

Houston (5-4) gave up a season-low one quarterback hit with no sacks — the first time Watson has not been sacked in a game this season. The unit also powered the best game of the season for Lamar Miller, who rushed for 133 yards and one touchdown.

The improved run game opened the chunk plays through the air for Watson, with three of his five touchdowns coming on play-action passes.

“They’ve got to respect it.” Watson said of the running game. “They’ve got to get seven men in the box, sometimes eight men in the box, and then that kind of opens up the passing game. So the safeties are very aggressive, then we can get behind those guys using our speed and our talent. … Lamar is doing a great job. He’s just now getting started, getting back rolling.”

Watson connected with Will Fuller five times for 124 yards and a touchdown while DeAndre Hopkins had six receptions for 82 yards and two touchdowns. The duo opened up the field for Watson as the Texans rolled up 427 total yards.

“This offense can be very explosive,” Watson said. “We can do a lot of good things, put a lot of points on the board. Once we’re all on the same page and everyone’s clicking, and we don’t have any turnovers and no penalties, we can be very, very explosive and that’s what we showed tonight.”

The Texans, after an 0-3 start, are now sitting at 5-3 and atop the AFC South with their first five-game win streak since the 2012 season. With a season that appeared to be on the brink of disaster, Houston has turned around the season but O’Brien knows his team can’t be satfised with eight games left on the schedule.

“These guys work hard, but it’s only — I know it’s five in a row, it’s really good, like I’m not trying to downplay that, but it’s only eight games in,” O’Brien explained. “Nothing’s been determined, so what have you done? You guys know, it’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. So, we’ve got to watch this, correct, figure out what’s going on health-wise.

“I don’t know anything about the health, but it looks like we had some guys banged up tonight and then start getting ready for Denver.”

Indeed, Houston may have suffered a costly injury. There were reports that Fuller suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the fourth quarter Thursday night.

Fuller, who had is third 100-yard game and scored his fourth touchdowns, is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Friday.