The Texans notched another familiar style of win today. They were largely unimpressive on offense, notching only one touchdown. The defense didn’t get entirely gashed, but struggled at times, saved by big plays by J.J. Watt. Same ol’, same ol’. It certainly wasn’t a resounding win, but they were up against a 9-4 team trying to secure a playoff spot and they won by two scores. Oh, and AFC South champions for the second year in a row, thank you very much.
The Texans’ offense continues to play in a way that I can’t help but call anything but “alarming” headed toward the post-season. Most of the season the offensive line has been inconsistent, and it seems like lately it’s been trending more downward than up. They did put it on the Colts in the 2nd half in the run game when the game was still in doubt, so I do give them credit for that. Andre Johnson is a one-man wrecking crew as a wide receiver, and the Texans aren’t getting much of anything from anyone else save for Owen Daniels. The Texans are so weak at WR right now that DeVier Posey got significant snaps. Kevin Walter only had two catches and I noticed him on the sideline a fair amount. I’ll have to check his snap numbers once those stats hit the web.
Arian Foster again struggled early. It’s more because of the offensive line, but he still seemed to not be “the same guy” he has been in the past as far as breaking tackles and getting that last extra yard. That all changed in the second half, when Foster was his classic late-game self, ripping off big chunks of yardage, staying in-bounds to keep the clock rolling, protecting the ball, and so on. Dominant late-game performance by Foster to put the game away.
The defense didn’t struggle as mightily as it had in recent weeks, but it did once again give up another huge play. The most encouraging thing in this game defensively was that the Texans got good pressure on Andrew Luck all game long, and it wasn’t just from JJ Watt. Houston finished with five sacks, three by Watt, one by Antonio Smith, and one by Connor Barwin, which was just a gift of him being in the right place at the right time. The Colts ran the ball better than you would hope they would, but their offense benefited from Texans’ penalties greatly, especially in the first half. Had the Texans played the game “cleaner” it wouldn’t have been nearly as close.
Matt Schaub had a typical “workman-like” performance. He wasn’t great, but he got the job done. Schaub and Gary Kubiak were smart to feed Andre Johnson all game long, as Andre was often inexplicably single-covered by Vontae Davis. That, and Schaub just doesn’t really have any other weapons to target these days other than 80 and Owen Daniels. Most importantly, Schaub didn’t miss several throws as he has lately, and he took care of the ball. The Texans once again did not have a turnover.
Next up, the absolute MONSTER Adrian Peterson and the otherwise not-so-good Minnesota Vikings come to town. Peterson is looking to break the all-time single-season rushing record this season, and keep the Vikings in the wild-card hunt in the NFC. The Texans match up well against Minnesota, but in no way will that be an easy game. Houston will look to continue their march for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. If the Patriots lose to San Francisco on Sunday night, Houston will have a chance to clinch the home-field outright.
Player of the game – defense – Haha do you need to ask? Watt may have actually had his BEST game of the season.
Player of the game – offense – Andre Johnson found himself single-covered a lot, so naturally he had a big game. Arian Foster wasn’t far behind though, as he had a monster second half to close the game out.
Play of the game – Tough to pick against Bryan Braman’s speshul teemz trifecta of a blocked punt, recovered punt, and touchdown. Big play at a big time, though the defense promptly gave it right back on a Luck to T.Y. Hilton touchdown.
Houston now sits at 12-2, still firmly in control of whether they have home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. The Ravens lost yet again, and now it looks more and more likely that the Texans would not have to play both the Broncos and Patriots if they are going to go to the Super Bowl, it would only be one of them. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.