Houston Texans Week 8 Recap: Colts Get Revenge, Stifle Texans\’ Offense to Regain Top Spot in AFC South

The Houston Texans haven\’t had many prime-time nationally televised games and tonight\’s Monday Night Football matchup against their arch rivals, the Indianapolis Colts, would\’ve been the perfect time to prove to the world that they are legitimate contenders.  Instead, after embarrassing the Colts in week one, the Texans sputtered to a 30-17 loss, proving that they aren\’t ready to be one of the NFL\’s elite.  Now, that supposed season-defining win against Peyton Manning has been erased as the Colts evened the season series and again sit atop the AFC South.

What Went Right

Arian Foster did not repeat his record-setting week one performance where he steamrolled the Colts for 231 rushing yards, but he was the only part of the Texans\’ offense that had any success against Indy in week eight.  He gained 167 total yards with a touchdown and, especially in light of the Texans\’ recent anemic offense, is building a case for MVP.

What Went Wrong

Saying that Matt Schaub was a bit off tonight is an understatement.  While his final game stats aren\’t dreadful, the once elite quarterback was painfully mediocre.  The Colts had his number all night and Schaub, who is much more comfortable in the pocket, spent most of the night scrambling to avoid the lightly-blocked Colts defenders.  In the first half, Schaub threw behind receivers multiple times and even gave up a pick six from which the Texans seemed to never recover.  He even lost a fumble on their desperate last-ditch fourth quarter drive.  Schaub has been the most inconsistent part of an inconsistent offense; and while poor blocking may be to blame, the buck always stops with the quarterback.

Turning Point

On the Colts\’ very first play, Peyton Manning was in the shotgun formation.  Most teams try to establish the run early on in games to open up the passing game later, but Manning scouted the Texans\’ league-worst passing defense and wasn\’t even going to pretend like he wasn\’t going to air it out against them.  While Manning ultimately threw for less yards than he did in the week one loss, he had the Texans\’ beaten from the get go.

Work On It

Coming into the game, the Texans had the best red zone offense and the worst red zone defense in the NFL.  The defense isn\’t getting better any time soon, so the offense has to put up more than 17 points just to keep the Texans in games.  No one has been able to shut down Foster so far this season, and tonight the Colts were no exception, but the Texans called 15 rushing plays for him and let Schaub attempt 38 passes.  Matt Schaub may have been the offensive focal point in years past, but its time to trust Foster as the team\’s go-to guy.

The defense is still terrible, but didn\’t give up as many points as I thought they would.  If you would\’ve told me before the game that the Colts would have only scored 2 offensive touchdowns in the first half, I would\’ve been thrilled.  Yet, that\’s what happened and the Texans were still trailing, unable to find the end zone until the third quarter.

As much as it pains me to admit, this loss proved that the Texans aren\’t in the same class as Indianapolis.  They were able to surprise them in week one, but the Texans are too easy to game plan around.  They needed to win this game to prove that they\’re a team to be reckoned with; but instead they proved they have an inconsistent offense and the worst defense in the NFL (as evidenced by their superstar, Mario Williams, who had only one tackle and didn\’t put any pressure on Manning).

Unless the Texans can do a complete 180, this season will simply be a step in the right direction leading to a possible breakout 2011.

Numerical Indications of Athletic Achievement

Schaub: 22/38, 201 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT

Foster: 15 rush, 102 yds, 1 TD, 9 rec, 65 yds

Johnson: 7 rec, 106 yds, 1 TD

Rackers: 1/1 FG, 2/2 XP