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Texans Lose to Panthers in Davis Mills' Starting Debut

Rookie quarterback does his part, but other areas come up short

HOUSTON -- Rookie quarterback Davis Mills wasn't at fault in the Houston Texans' 24-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night at NRG Stadium.

Mills, a third-round draft pick from Stanford and the replacement for injured starter Tyrod Taylor, was solid. He played a competent game, taking care of the football and making sound decisions.

The Texans dropped to 1-2 for the season, losing their second game in a row.

Mills completed 19 of 28 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 95.5 passer rating. He was sacked four times.

READ MORE:Top 10 Observations from Texans Loss to Carolina

Brandin Cooks was Mills' favorite target, totaling nine receptions for 112 yards on 11 targets. Anthony Miller caught a short touchdown pass late in the second quarter in his first game for Houston.

However, Mills didn't get the proper support from his running game, defense or special teams.

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The Texans managed to rush for only 42 yards on 17 carries, an average of 2.7 per run. Mark Ingram was the Texans' leading rusher with 21 yards on six carries. Phillip Lindsay had five yards on seven carries. There weren't many holes to run through.

Houston didn't take advantage of Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey leaving the game with a hamstring injury. The Panthers still piled up 117 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Panthers first-year quarterback Sam Darnold, formerly of the New York Jets, improved to 3-0 with his new team.

Darnold completed 23 of 34 passes for 304 yards. He was sacked three times.

The Panthers got good production out of wide receiver D.J. Moore, who caught eight passes for 126 yards on 12 targets. Carolina frequently went after Houston cornerback Vernon Hargreaves in single coverage.

The Texans' pass defense sorely missed standout safety Justin Reid, who was sidelined with a sprained knee suffered against the Cleveland Browns. The Texans also played without inside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill due to a knee injury.

On special teams, kicker Joey Slye missed an extra point and Pro Bowl return specialist Andre Roberts muffed a punt for the second game in a row. Slye did make a 52-yard field goal.