CHICAGO — It was a pivotal moment for Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills running the no-huddle offense as he took the shotgun snap from center Scott Quessenberry and scanned the fiefor of an opening at Soldier Field.
Instead of rallying his team to a potential first victory of the season by engineering a decisive fourth-quarter drive against the Chicago Bears defense, Mills extinguished the Texans’ hopes with a critical error.
Mills flipped his throwing stance from his right when he didn’t see anything breaking open to his left as he looked directly at running back Rex Burkhead. When Mills’ 3rd-and-1 pass was deflected by former Texans defensive tackle Angelo Blackson, it spelled doom for the comeback attempt.
Bears star linebacker Roquan Smith adeptly read the play and Mills’ eyes. He jumped the disrupted pass for a clutch interception, with Mills tackling him after an 18-yard return that set the stage for Bears kicker Cairo Santos’ game-winning field goal. It’s conceivable that Smith would have picked Mills off regardless of the tip by Blackson. He was sprinting full-speed toward the football as soon as Mills turned his head to look at Burkhead.
Davis Mills: ‘I take responsibility for it’
It wasn’t the only ugly moment for Mills and the Texans during their latest setback, a 23-20 road loss that drops their record to 0-2-1. Mills was also intercepted by safety Eddie Jackson in the first quarter on a red zone throw he forced to wide receiver Brandin Cooks that was deflected by Kindle Vildor.
“I take responsibility for it,” Mills said. “I turned the ball over late in the game when we needed it. It’s the quarterback’s job to protect the football and to put ourselves in a position to win ball games. I’ll take responsibility for it, but, overall, tough results.
“It’s tough. We talked about it a lot. Tipped balls never touch the ground. Got through my progression, made the correct read, had Rex open and the ball got tipped at the line. Nothing I could really do about it there. Good play by the defense. Just unfortunate down in the red zone, too.”
It’s no secret why the Texans are losing football games and squandering leads. They’ve been outscored by a combined margin of 30-0 in the fourth quarter. Mills entered Sunday having completed just 5 of 16 passes for 75 yards in the fourth quarter. This time, he played even worse as his late interception cost the Texans a chance to either win the game in regulation or take their chances in overtime.