Davis Mills threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Nico Collins with one second left in the first half, salvaging something good from an up-and-down performance in the Houston Texans’ 24-20 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Friday night.
Mills is expected to be the rebuilding Texans’ starting quarterback again this season, but Houston’s offense didn’t click much against the Rams’ second- and third-stringers until his final two throws. Mills’ accuracy was spotty before he picked up 50 of his 96 yards passing on those completions, with Phillip Dorsett making an exceptional 32-yard sideline grab while getting hit before Collins’ equally impressive TD reception in tight coverage.
Mason Schreck caught an 8-yard touchdown pass with 1:05 left from third-string quarterback Jeff Driskel, who has kept the Texans unbeaten in the preseason with a late TD drive in both games. Houston’s winning 82-yard drive against the Rams’ fourth-string defense included a 46-yard pass interference penalty.
Mills finished 10 of 17, while Collins had four catches for 48 yards.
Roger Carter Jr. scooped and scored for the Rams on a fumbled punt return in the third quarter, and Trey Ragas rushed 7 yards for a go-ahead TD with 5:11 to play.
John Wolford passed for 142 yards for the Super Bowl champions despite getting sacked five times in the first half. Wolford was dropped four times in the first quarter alone as Houston feasted on the depth behind Los Angeles’ starting offensive line.
Bryce Perkins played the second half for LA, going 11 of 13 for 124 yards. Undrafted rookie Lance McCutcheon had his second straight big game with five catches for 98 yards, but he couldn’t get out of bounds on his 29-yard catch-and-run deep into Texans territory on the final snap of the game.
While Rams coach Sean McVay stuck to his six-year strategy of playing as few important regulars as possible in the preseason, Mills was among several presumptive regular-season starters who suited up for the Texans as they attempt to build chemistry for coach Lovie Smith’s first season.
McVay did give playing time to Wolford, the Rams’ backup QB for the third straight year. Wolford didn’t play in LA’s preseason opener, indicating McVay might not let him touch the field at all in the preseason, but Wolford instead got the entire first half against Houston.
Wolford rarely got set in the pocket, thanks to his offensive line’s struggles, but he completed six passes to Brycen Hopkins, the tight end who stepped up in place of injured Tyler Higbee and made four catches in the Super Bowl after barely playing in the regular season.
Wolford finished 14 for 22, but Los Angeles got its only points in the first half on two field goals by Matt Gay.
The Texans’ offense had only 31 net yards in the first half before racking up 65 more on those back-to-back big plays in the final 14 seconds. After Dorsett made an exceptional catch while getting roughed by rookie Russ Yeast, Mills hit Collins for the long TD, with Collins barely holding on to the ball against Rams rookie Derion Kendrick.
Texans rookie Teagan Quitoriano caught a TD pass from backup QB Kyle Allen early in the third quarter, but the Rams replied moments later when Duron Lowe forced Chester Rogers to fumble on a punt return and Carter returned it for a score.
Texans: Host 49ers on Thursday in their preseason finale.
Rams: At Bengals on Saturday in their preseason finale.