The Los Angeles Rams added another one to the preseason win column on Saturday afternoon, beating the Texans 21-20 behind strong defense and running back John Kelly. Once again, head coach Sean McVay elected to sit the majority of his offensive starters — excluding guard Jamon Brown.
However, the Rams did play their defensive starters for the first few series against the Texans, including corners Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Here are seven stats that stood out in the Rams' second win of the preseason:
1. TWO SUCCESSFUL SERIES
The Rams' defensive starters got the job done in their only two series on Saturday afternoon.
On the Texans' first play of the game, safety John Johnson stuffed Houston's DeAndre Hopkins well short of the first down marker with a forceful hit. The Texans proceeded to go three-and-out against many of the Rams' defensive starters in what was their first series of the preseason.
Defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh became the first Rams' noteable newcomer to make a play in front of L.A.'s home crowd. On the Texans' second drive, Suh hit quarterback Deshaun Watson on 2nd-and-10, as he scrambled from the pocket and launched a pass intended for receiver Bruce Ellington, which was intercepted by safety Lamarcus Joyner.
2. MANNION TD
Quarterback Sean Mannion threw his first touchdown of the preseason late in the first quarter on Saturday.
Mannion connected with receiver Pharoh Cooper for six, capitalizing on cornerback Sam Shields' interception deep in Texans' territory.
Before Mannion's touchdown pass, he was 3-for-9 with one interception. Mannion started the game slow, going 0-for-5. He ended the first half 11-for-17 with 68 yards, the touchdown, and the pick.
3. FIRST HALF SNAPS
Undrafted free agent running back Nick Holley received a few earlier-than-normal snaps on Saturday afternoon. Holley briefly took over for running back John Kelly during a Rams' offensive series in the middle of the second quarter to do a bit of dirty work. Holley pounded the ball up the middle, finishing his first half opportunity with 18 yards rushing on four carries. The Kent State product ran for one first down during the drive, which ended with the Rams' second touchdown of the afternoon — a four-yard carry by Kelly.
Holley finished his afternoon with 40 rushing yards on 11 carries.
4. KELLY DOUBLES UP
Just as it seemed like quarterback Brandon Allen and the Rams would have to settle for three points at the end of their opening drive of the second half, Kelly came through once again.
On 3rd-and-15 Kelly took the ball through the heart of the Texans' defense, spinning from one tackle, and then dragging another defender across the goal line with his right leg.
Kelly's second touchdown of the afternoon came at the end of a 19-play, 75-yard drive led by Allen — a nice response to the Texans' late first half touchdown, which tied the game.
5. THIRD DOWN DEFENSE
The Texans came up empty facing third down scenarios in the first half on Saturday, going 0-for-4. The Texans' inability to move the chains on third down marks the second consecutive week the Rams' defense performed well on third down.
The defense also came up with a few clutch stops in the fourth quarter. On a big 4th-and-11 attempt from the Rams' 11 early in the quarter, Texans QB Brandon Weeden's attempt to level the score at 21 came up six yards short, thanks to a nice open-field tackle by Rams' corner Taurean Nixon.
On the next Texans' drive, backup QB Joe Webb's two-point conversion attempt to take the lead was thwarted by outside linebacker Ejuan Price streaking across the line of scrimmage and taking down Webb.
Last week, the Raiders were abysmal facing third-and-anything against Wade Phillips' defense, going 1-for-10 in the game.
6. THIRD DOWN OFFENSE
The Rams' offensive experience facing third down was an entirely different story.
McVay's offense converted on 11-of-17 chances on third down, with two of the conversions for a score.
Allen was responsible for much of the third-down success on Saturday, moving the chains seven times on third down in the second half.
Allen finished his day 10-of-13 passing, good for 63 yards — his most impressive drive being the over 12-minute march down the field for the majority of the third quarter.
Allen is has now thrown for 204 yards in his three halves of preseason football, hitting on 66-percent of his passes with one touchdown.
7. PUTTING ON PRESSURE
The Rams' rushers seemed to crank up the pressure throughout the game. All three Texans' quarterbacks were forced to deal with the pass rush on Saturday, most noticeably Watson, who laid on the Coliseum turf, listening to an elated crowd cheer on their newest addition to the D-line, Suh.
Suh's hit was only the beginning. Both linebackers Micah Kiser and Matt Longacre recorded a sack each, for two of the seven total quarterback hits laid by their defense. Kiser also clocked two of the team's five tackles for loss.