After the game, Mario Williams was his typical affable self. He’s just a good guy. People in Houston might dog-cuss him now for reasons I can’t put my finger on, but he was as even-keeled as ever after a 21-9 loss to his former team.
And… that’s probably part of the problem. Mario kind of shrugged his way through the postgame press conference Sunday, and if you were watching and listening in a vacuum, you’d have NO IDEA his team actually lost by double-digits.
The reasons why Houston made little or no attempt to re-sign Mario Williams are obvious. There’s no way he would’ve granted the Texans a MASSIVE discount to stay in Houston, nor should he. That’s one. Two, is that they were able to see how they could do without him, and they were DOMINANT. So it was an easy choice.
HOWEVER – could part of the reason also be because the Texans just didn’t think much of his play? Well, I wouldn’t have thought so – but if you watched the game Sunday, you saw the Texans did not go out of their way to give Derek Newton a lot of help in defending against Mario. Newton was inconsistent, as he has been most of the year, but for the most part he handled Mario fairly well. Mario took advantage of a dumb mistake by Newton to get his one sack, and he stuffed the run a couple of times but in NO way did he have the big time type of game I expected him to have.
So that’s about all I want to say about Mario Williams from here on out. He came back, he got booed (though not as lustily as I expected) and the Texans sputtered to a 12-point victory. The end. Best of luck to Mario going forward.
Back to the game. Houston is now 7-1 and continues to be firmly in control of their playoff destiny. After the off week, Houston came out flat on offense, and at times looked shaky against the pass on defense.
Houston’s defense was truly in “bend but don’t break” mode, as Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to hit receivers on short and intermediate routes with some regularity between the 20-yardlines, but when it came time to prevent touchdowns – the Texans gave up nothing. Giving up nine points to any NFL team is a great defensive performance, even if it doesn’t seem so great on the stat sheet.
JJ Watt did his thing, notching another sack and hitting the quarterback on what seemed like every other passing play. Connor Barwin and Whitney Mercilus each added sacks as well, as the pressure on Fitzpatrick was often unrelenting. Houston STILL has not given up a rushing touchdown all season. Despite having some issues against the run, they continually are able to force teams to rely on their quarterback. When you have that kind of defense, you’re gonna win games.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Texans I’m sure weren’t pleased with their own performance. Looking at the statistics, there isn’t much to complain about. Arian Foster apparently had flu-like symptoms Saturday night and Sunday morning, but still managed 111 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Matt Schaub had 268 yards passing, and Andre Johnson went over 100 yards receiving. But the running game was once again inconsistent, even against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. I have not looked at coaching film yet this week, but at first glance Houston was hurt by their guard play once again in spots.
Of course, let’s not forget all those penalties. Houston got dinged for seven, which has surprisingly become just about par for the course this year. We also have to continue to be concerned about Houston’s speshul teemz. Just god awful yet again, despite a nice punt return by Keshawn Martin. More on the specials later in the week. Let’s just say I… have some additional thoughts.
Player of the game – Offense – I kind of think Schaub deserves it here but I am rolling with Andre Johnson this week. He had eight catches for 118 yards, and was held on a no-call for what might have been a long TD catch. He certainly had the guy beat. Johnson is getting more “possession” type throws his way, but he’s making the most of them. I’d like to see him stretch the field more, but if we are playing the “take what the defense gives you” game, I’m fine with that, because it’s working.
Player of the game – Defense – Guess who? It’s JJ Watt. As I said, when he wasn’t getting sacks, he was PLASTERING Ryan Fitzpatrick all over the field. He was affecting plays, wrecking offensive linemen, and setting up other guys to succeed with his relentless play. Best defensive player in the NFL this year, and it’s not even CLOSE.
Play of the game – The touchdown pass from Matt Schaub to Garrett Graham with 11:32 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Texans punched their red zone ticket on third and goal from the five, and though there was plenty of time left – Houston’s defense meant this game was out of reach for the Bills.