WASHINGTON, DC â€“ The Houston Texans claimed the franchise\’s first overtime victory in a thrilling come-from-behind 30-27 win against the Washington Redskins. Though they could not stop Donovan McNabb and the Redskins\’ passing attack and head coach Gary Kubiack attempted to add his name to the â€œWorst coaching decisions in NFL historyâ€ plaque, the Texans somehow stole a victory in D.C.
What Went Right
It would be easy to call Arian Foster\’s day a disappointment. After a record-setting performance against the Colts in week 1, the NFL\’s most talked about player rushed for 69 yards and caught 3 passes for another 69. In any other circumstance, 138 total yards would be commendable. Foster was effective and shouldn\’t be judged for not living up to unrealistic standards.
I said in my â€œ10 Reasons the Houston Texans will Break Out in 2010â€ column that no one is watching Kevin Walter. He went unnoticed by the defense again today to the tune of 10 receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown. Teams are game-planning to stop Andre Johnson and Walter is quietly building a career season. Johnson still made his presence known, though, catching 12 passes for 158 yards and a leaping game-tying touchdown grab after giving half of Houston a heart attack by leaving with an ankle injury. Thankfully, the injury isn\’t serious and Houstonians\’ heart attacks will be caused by obesity instead (6th fattest city in 2009, down from 3-year-reign at #1).
In addition, Matt Schaub passed for a franchise-record 497 yards. In last week\’s recap, I stressed the need for the Texans to balance their new-found rushing prowess with their usual dominant air attack. The passing game dominated this week, which is understandable since they played from behind for most of the game.
What Went Wrong
According to other reports, the Texans\’ secondary did actually take the field, though the results wouldn\’t have been much different had they left the Redskins\’ receivers uncovered. McNabb, undisturbed outside of Mario Williams\’ two sacks, played catch with his receivers as Houston\’s corners looked lost. When McNabb released the ball and the camera panned downfield to his target, Houston defensive backs appeared onscreen frozen several feet away, as if they, too, couldn\’t see the receiver until the camera did. It\’s not that McNabb was amazing or Washington\’s receivers made highlight-reel catches, they simply were not covered. Even 38-year-old Washington receiver Joey Galloway had the Texans\’ defensive backs beaten on a Hail Mary that would have been the decisive touchdown had McNabb not overthrown him.
That being said, if your defense has been picked apart all day, why would you trust them to stop the Redskins in overtime instead of kicking a game-winning 53-yard field goal? Were visions of Kris Brown\’s late-game fiascos clouding Kubiack\’s trust in new kicker Neil Rackers? When the Redskins\’ young kicker Graham Gano fell victim to the worst rule in football (calling a time out to â€œiceâ€ the kicker), he spared Kubiack a week\’s worth of chastisement from fans and commentators.
I still cringe every time Steve Slaton touches the ball. He\’s been demoted to kickoff returner and is trying his best to lose that job as well. In six kickoff returns, he average a paltry 14 yards a return and stepped out of bounds at the 1-yard-line (in the Texans\’ first possession that ended in a turnover), bobbled one in the end zone for a touchback, and ran into his own man. He hasn\’t directly cost the Texans anything yet, but he\’s a ticking time bomb.
The game was lost before Bernard Pollard blocked Washington\’s go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter. I was working a headline that captured how the league\’s new buzz team returned to their old ways or how Houston football fans had a week of optimism before they were reminded they were Houston football fans. However, the Texans did not resign themselves to defeat and the game changed on a special teams play where players could\’ve given half-effort and no one would\’ve noticed.
Work on It
For the love of God, guard a receiver. The Texans have won two consecutive games while allowing over 400 yards passing â€“ a streak that is not likely to last. Teams are already noticing their inability to stop the pass and will surely exploit an obviously weak secondary.
Next week, the Texans host the Cowboys, and while the Cowboys\’ season has not started strong, Tony Romo and Miles Austin will be looking for blood and are as dangerous a combo as any Houston will face.
Numerical Indications of Athletic Achievement
Shaub â€“ 38/52, 497 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Foster â€“ 69 rush yds, 69 rec yds
Johnson â€“ 12 rec, 158 yds, 1 TD
Walter â€“ 11 rec, 144 yds, 1 TD
Jones â€“ 5 rec, 47 yds, 1 TD
Rackers â€“ 3/4 FGs, 3/3 XP