Despite tough loss, shorthanded Texans find two promising receivers

HOUSTON -- For the first time this season, the Houston Texans had two wide receivers with more than 100 receiving yards.

No, neither player entered the season in Houston’s top four at the position, but in the Texans’ 26-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, receivers Keke Coutee and Chad Hansen took advantage of playing time and showed the team might have some young playmakers.

After Will Fuller was suspended for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances and the Texans cut veteran receiver Kenny Stills last week, Coutee moved up the depth chart and Hansen was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster.

It’s only one game, but the fact that the Texans had both Coutee and Hansen on the roster makes their decisions about their wide receivers this offseason even more questionable. Former general manager and head coach Bill O’Brien not only didn’t play Coutee, but because he believed there was no future for the receiver in the offense, he signed slot receiver Randall Cobb to a three-year, $27 million contract. Coutee was behind both Cobb and punt/kickoff returner DeAndre Carter on the depth chart, a healthy scratch for six of Houston’s first nine games this season before Carter was cut last month.

Now, Coutee is coming off his first game with more than 100 receiving yards since his rookie season in 2018 and Hansen saw his first offensive snaps since 2017, when he had nine catches all season.

On Sunday, Coutee led the way with eight catches for 141 yards and Hansen had five catches for 101 yards. Veteran receiver Brandin Cooks also had six catches for 65 yards.

Pivotal play: With the Texans trailing by six points and 1 minute and 28 seconds left in the game, Houston had second-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Quarterback Deshaun Watson fumbled the ball after a low snap by center Nick Martin. Instead of taking the lead and giving the ball back to the Colts with no timeouts, the Texans lost any chance they had to make an improbable run toward a fifth AFC South title in six years.

QB breakdown: Watson completed 26 of 38 passes for 341 yards, but did not have a passing touchdown for the first time this season. He did run for 38 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

Streak snapped: Watson’s streak without an interception ended in the third quarter, when the Colts' Kenny Moore wrestled the ball away from Cooks. It was Watson’s first interception since Week 5. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he had 237 pass attempts between interceptions.