Houston Texans Week 2 Gameball: Brian Cushing and DeAndre Hopkins

By Mike Kerns
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Usually I’d be against picking two guys to split a gameball, but after the second consecutive thrilling comeback victory for the Houston Texans, it was actually tough to cut it down to just two.

First, on the defensive side of the ball, you can now see why the team was so confident in giving Brian Cushing his contract extension. Through two games since signing said extension, he’s only put up 15 tackles, four of them for a loss, two sacks and an interception for a touchdown. To put it simply, he’s been scaring the children through the first two weeks of the 2013 campaign.

While this defense has given up a couple of bad drives, including one for 99 yards yesterday, it’s hard to deny that the difference for this defense when Cushing is on the field is night and day from the group that finished off 2012.

Having their All-Pro captain back on the field seems to be just what the Texans needed to be able to win games like the ones they’ve come through on the past two weeks. Previous to this season, they found a way to lose games like these. Also, having a guy besides just Andre Johnson that can catch the ball makes a big difference, too.

DeAndre Hopkins arrived yesterday. There’s no other way to put it when a 21 year-old rookie earns his first touchdown in the NFL and it’s a game winner in overtime. The maturity in the young man, who has had a mountain of expectations thrust upon him early, is uncanny.

Even the most seasoned veteran would have lost his mind if they scored that touchdown yesterday, yet he popped up and acted like it was business as usual after a first down completion in the second quarter.

It may seem like a small thing, but that kind of maturity in a young player is extremely rare. As for his play on the field, it isn’t surprising to me. I apologize for bringing this up routinely, but I thought Hopkins would be the best receiver in this draft class even before the NFL Combine. His ability to go up and get the ball is simply fantastic and exactly what a quarterback without a cannon arm needs.

For a team that has struggled in the red zone the past couple of years, Gary Kubiak finally showing a willingness to let his quarterback simply hang it up there and let a playmaker make a play on the ball has been a long time coming. Even if it hasn’t worked the first couple of tries, they went back to Hopkins again and he showed why I thought him slipping to 27th in this draft was a sign of extremely good fortune for Houston.

The biggest part of this for Hopkins is that he made his biggest catches after Andre Johnson left the game because of concussion concerns. The Titans kept blitzing and stacking the box against the run and challenged the rookie to beat them.

Challenge accepted.

It’s difficult not to get excited about the potential for Hopkins when this is only his second game as a pro and he’s already had a game with numerous highlight catches, a game winning touchdown and put up 117 yards receiving. For the first time in franchise history, the Texans have two legitimate receiving threats at wide receiver.

In the end, the Texans don’t win the game yesterday without the play of Cushing and Hopkins. Just when it looked like the game was spiraling out of control, they made their biggest plays. Regardless of how fans feel about the start, it’s tough to complain about another 2-0 beginning.

Mike Kerns is a Houston Texans writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and on Google. You can also listen to his Texans Luv Ya Steel Blue podcast on iTunes.

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