HOUSTON -- In close games, a team can win based off its supporting cast. The Houston Texans’ support group for rookie quarterback Davis Mills has been wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
The next name? There isn't one. At least there wasn't until Sunday.
Despite a 25-22 home loss to the New England Patriots, Mills was able to find consistency with a pair of wide receivers. Chris Conley has been labeled the No. 2 target since his arrival, yet never had shown that. Chris Moore is a practice-squad player who was elevated for the game.
But here? They led the team in both receptions and yards.
Mills delivered a strike to Moore while he was blanketed by Patriots cornerback JC Jackson. Winning his matchup, Moore bolted for a 67-yard touchdown to extend Houston's lead by six.
Sunday marked the first time since 2018 that Moore has scored.
"He played phenomenal," Mills said. "Obviously stepped up. Had that huge catch in the first half ...That was a big play."
Conley, who agreed to terms on a one-year deal following a two-year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars, also merits praise. On a fourth-down call from Texans coach David Culley, Mills found him open in coverage. From there, it was a foot race 40 yards to put Houston inside New England's 5-yard line.
Which Texans O-Lineman Returned To Practice?
Justin Britt is getting healthy just in time for the Arizona Cardinals game
Texans Add Veteran Interior Pass Rusher: NFL Tracker
Houston Texans Tracker for 2021: Check back often as we keep you up-to-date on Texans NFL news as Houston works on its roster-building
Texans Defense Loses Starting Safety To Lung Injury
Terrence Brooks is expected to miss the next three weeks following a lung contusion
The Texans would settle for a field goal from Ka'imi Fairbairn, but Conley would get a second chance to score. Following a Lonnie Johnson interception, Houston called a flea-flicker that had Conley open downfield for the 37-yard score.
It marked Conley’s first touchdown as a Texan, and his first since Week 15 of the 2020 season.
Still, it wasn't enough for the Texans to hold onto their lead. Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones engineered four scoring drives to complete the comeback.
Houston moved to 1-4.
“We let one slide, man," running back David Johnson said. "We let one get away from us. Definitely had the win. Didn't do enough at the end. Everyone fought. Everyone competed. We battled the whole way throughout the whole game and we ended up losing."
This season, both Mills and veteran Tyrod Taylor have trusted the sure hands of Cooks. This week, it was time for others to become involved. Moore averaged 21.8 yards per play off five catches. Conley averaged 28 yards per play.
Depending on the status of Danny Amendola, Moore could be elevated to the active roster permanently. Conley likely still plays the secondary role to Cooks this upcoming Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
"We just have to continue to fight, continue to just finish games and I think this is definitely something we can build on for sure,” Moore said.