LOS ANGELES – Rookie John Kelly rushed for 64 yards and two touchdowns, and the Los Angeles Rams briefly debuted their new defensive stars in a 21-20 preseason victory over J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans on Saturday.
Rose had the distance, but just couldn't sneak it inside the upright on the 57-yd attempt on the final snap. #Texans fall 21-20 to the Rams.— Adam Wexler (@KPRC2AdamW) August 25, 2018
Although the Rams rested 10 presumptive offensive starters for the third straight preseason game, the Los Angeles defense's three big offseason acquisitions played at the Coliseum. Ndamukong Suh and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib got some action early in the first quarter before sitting.
Watt also started and made a tackle in his first on-field action since breaking his leg in the Texans' fifth game last season. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year didn't get to see the current holder of the award, Aaron Donald, who is deep in his second consecutive contract holdout from the Rams.
Alfred Blue rushed for an early score for Houston, and Braxton Miller caught a TD pass from Brandon Weeden, who went 10 of 17 for 108 yards with an interception after Deshaun Watson's brief action. Quan Bray caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Joe Webb with 5:54 to play for the Texans, but Ejuan Price sacked Webb on the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt.
Nick Rose then missed a 57-yard field goal at the gun. It was the second missed field goal for Rose as the Texans wait for Ka'imi Fairbairn to get healthy.
Kelly, the Rams' sixth-round pick from Tennessee, continued his breakout preseason in Gurley's absence with another impressive game. He finished Los Angeles' 19-play drive that consumed 12:06 of the third quarter with a spinning 15-yard TD run.
Pharoh Cooper caught a TD pass from Sean Mannion, who bounced back from an 0-for-5 start with a bad interception to Kareem Jackson. Mannion finished the first half with 10 consecutive completions, but he has been inconsistent in the preseason, raising some concern about the Rams' backup situation behind Jared Goff.
For the third consecutive game, the Rams didn't play Goff, Todd Gurley, four starting offensive linemen, tight end Tyler Higbee and top receivers Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Coach Sean McVay has all but ensured Los Angeles' key offensive skill players will skip the entire preseason, keeping the wraps on the team that led the NFL in scoring last season.
McVay used his entire starting defense except linebacker Mark Barron, but only for about two series. Suh managed to hit Watson as the quarterback uncorked a long throw that was intercepted by Lamarcus Joyner on the Texans' second series.
Watson finished 3 of 6 for 15 yards.