Every week I’m going to throw together a recap of a key drive, play, or series of events that made a big difference in the game. I don’t typically get too heavy into the X’s and O’s (and really, this isn’t so X & O heavy), but now that the season is here, I’m going to get back to doing a bit more of that.
I could have picked one of several instances from Sunday’s exhilarating win over the Colts, but I think the moment that most of us started wondering “what the HELL is going on here” was the first drive of the second half, where the Texans came out determined to run, and did just that. The Colts were powerless to stop it.
Steve Slaton returned the opening kickoff just short of the Texans’ 34-yard line. Note that I’ve also included the offensive formation, time on clock, and line of scrimmage for each play:
1st & 10, I-Formation 3rd Quarter, 14:53 HOU 34
Foster runs right for 8 yards.
Vonta Leach buries LB Philip Wheeler. You can hear the helmets crack LOUDLY over the rest of the play’s audio. Foster is demonstrative after the run. It’s like he knows what’s coming.
2nd & 2, Offset I-Formation, 3Q 14:14 HOU 42
Foster runs left for 7 yards.
Andre Johnson in the slot, Kevin Walter wide left. Walter comes in motion. Leach owns LB Clint Session, springing Foster to the left. Andre gets in Melvin Bullitt’s way just long enough to allow Foster a couple of extra yards.
1st & 10, Offset I-Formation, 3Q 13:39 HOU 49
Slaton runs right for 6 yards.
Leach and Duane Brown double-up on Dwight Freeney. Chris Myers gets to the second level immediately and takes LB Gary Brackett out of the play.
2nd & 4, I-Formation, 3Q 13:00 IND 45
Slaton runs right for 3 yards.
Leach stands up DT Ryan Muir. Antoine Caldwell gets turned just enough by DT Fili Moala that Moala gets an arm around Slaton as he passes. Moala makes contact with Slaton a full two yards behind the line of scrimmage, but Slaton (in impressive 2008 form here) keeps his legs pumping and manages a three-yard gain. Session was lined up in the neutral zone, but the refs missed it.
3rd & 1, I-Formation, 3Q 12:27 IND 42
Foster runs left for 13 yards.
Lots of Colts defenders with hands on hips. They weren’t ready and Schaub made them pay by getting the snap off early. Brown pulls out to left, and takes out Colts safety Jerraud Powers as Leach and Foster make the big left turn. Just from spacing alone, Leach eliminates Muir from the play, then blocks Kelvin Hayden. Since Vonta can’t block everyone, eventually Antoine Bethea knocks Foster out of bounds.
1st & 10, Offset I-Formation, 3Q 11:59 IND 29
Foster runs right for 6 yards.
Eric Winston and Caldwell block DT Eric Foster. DT Mitch King follows the pursuit to his left and has Foster in his sights, but Foster makes his cut left and just BLOWS right by him.
2nd & 4, I-Formation, 3Q 11:22 IND 23
Slaton runs left for 2 yards.
Owen Daniels motions to the left. Leach leads the charge and puts Clint Session on his butt. Crunch. Unfortunately Session fell down right in the path of Slaton. Brown took Freeney totally out of the play. Wade Smith did a great job with his man.
3rd & 2, Ace (single back), 3Q 10:47 IND 21
Foster runs left for 1 yard (not really though).
Leach gets a breather. Johnson and Walter are the wideouts, Jacoby Jones and David Anderson are bunched in the slot to the right. Robert Mathis is lined up on the left between Winston and Caldwell. Winston comes out of his stance and tries to cut Mathis, but he runs through it, follows pursuit to his right, and blasts Foster at the line of scrimmage. Texans get a very generous yard of forward progress from the refs. Lucky. Hell of a play by Mathis.
4th & 1, I-Formation, 3Q 10:04 IND 20
Foster runs right for 2 yards.
This is where it really starts to build. Gary Kubiak has never been afraid to go for it on 4th down, and he certainly was going for it here. Arian Foster immediately started signaling to go for it, and though it wasn’t on camera, I’m sure the rest of the team was motioning to the sideline in the much the same way.
Chris Myers and the right side of the O-Line immediately went backwards on this play, but did at least enough as to not allow any deep penetration outside of their shoulders. All Foster could do was either pound it inside and hope for a push, or bust it outside and get to the edge. He’s not known for his speed, but he wisely opted for the edge. Owen Daniels saved the day on this play with an effective, yet unspectacular block on Clint Session. Winston released Mathis just quickly enough to avoid a holding penalty, and Andre Johnson blocked Kelvin Hayden just barely long enough that he wasn’t able to get to Foster in time to knock him out of bounds before the first down marker.
1st & 10, I-Formation, 3Q 9:41 IND 18
Foster runs right for 4 yards.
Caldwell and Winston clear a MASSIVE hole. I know you hear this cliché a lot, but you most definitely could have driven a truck through this hole – sideways. Have I mentioned Vonta Leach? He obliterates Clint Session again! Though Caldwell did a great job on the DT, he wasn’t able to finish his second-level block against Philip Wheeler, who for once finished a play with a tackle instead of doing a backward somersault.
2nd & 6, I-Formation, 3Q 9:05 IND 14
Schaub incomplete pass to Jacoby Jones.
Foster hits the sideline for a breather. Slaton in the backfield. Schaub gets perfect protection and throws a short pass to Jacoby in traffic. Jerraud Powers gets his hand in to knock the pass away. Nice play by Powers. He might have made contact a split-second too early, but Jacoby didn’t complain.
3rd & 6, Shotgun trips left, 3Q 9:00 IND 14
Schaub pass to Johnson for 6 yards.
Slaton starts in the backfield, then motions into the right slot. Schaub now with the empty backfield. Despite the 5 on 4 advantage for the Texans, protection starts to break down (though Schaub wasn’t touched). Somehow Andre Johnson was standing by himself right at the first down marker. Schaub dumped it off to him and Bethea ran up to make the stop.
1st & Goal, Offset I-Formation, 3Q 8:28 IND 9
Foster runs left for 6 yards.
Walter comes in motion and lines up behind Brown. He makes his backside block on DT Muir. Leach absolutely destroys safety Melvin Bullitt. Brown spins and seals Clint Session. Wade Smith does a nice job getting to the second level. The line is humming. It’s a beautiful thing.
2nd & Goal, Goal line I-Formation (Jumbo Package) 3Q 7:43 IND 2
Foster runs left for 1 yard.
No receivers in this package. The Texans lined up two TEs (Daniels and Dreessen) and an extra offensive lineman (Rashad Butler). Butler and Brown mash their guys at the line. Wade Smith pulls left from his guard position and takes out the safety Bethea. Vonta Leach stands up Clint Session (again!). Unfortunately, Gary Brackett goes completely unblocked and makes a nice play on Foster, barely.
3rd & Goal, Goal line I-Formation 3Q 7:06 IND 2
Foster runs right for a 1 yard touchdown.
This time the Texans line up with two TEs (Daniels and Dreessen), and Andre Johnson in a three-point stance behind Owen Daniels on the left side. Andre pops up and motions to the right just settling behind and on the outside edge of Dreessen’s shoulder. At the snap, Andre easily (and looking effortless) pushes Bullitt outside (minimum effort by Bullitt). Vonta Leach fittingly ends this drive by burying LB Philip Wheeler about six inches into the Reliant Stadium turf. Leach plows through Wheeler, sending him into another backward somersault, and on his way through the end zone, Arian Foster kicks Wheeler right in face.
15 plays, 66 yards, 7:57 off the clock, 1 yard TD run by Foster
This drive was complete, total, and absolute domination by the Texans in every way. The Colts looked defeated, especially after the 4th down conversion. Vonta Leach had about as dominant a drive as any player can have. The Colts had no answer for him, and could do nothing to stop him from clearing a path. If Clint Session and Philip Wheeler are tree-hugging hippies in the forest, and Vonta Leach is a bulldozer – well, then Clint Session and Philip Wheeler are dead and their forest is a parking lot.