After re-watching the Texans victory over the Broncos, I’ve scribbled some notes down. I’m going to try to make a habit of doing a post a week like this, where I hit you with random thoughts from the second viewing in no particular order whatsoever.
Joe Mays’ hit on Matt Schaub was vicious, no doubt. I think some people are missing the point on this. He launched himself into Schaub with the crown of his helmet. That’s been a penalty for a while now. If ex-players and guys who think the game is being hurt by taking some of the inherent violence away are upset, they shouldn’t be mad at the call, they should be mad at the rule. It was clearly penalty-worthy. It was probably ejection worthy. If that bothers you, hate the RULE, not the call.
Oh, also – on the touchdown pass to Owen Daniels, Joe Mays quit on the play. He was trailing coverage by the other linebacker, and he slowed up. If Owen had been held up near the goal line, Mays could have been in a position to make a play – but it was all moot because Daniels scored – and Mays quit.
Connor Barwin once again not only didn’t register a sack, but didn’t really get near the quarterback very much. Am I concerned? Not at all. The defense has been dominant, and if you listened to Battle Red Radio, you can hear an interesting theory on Barwin’s supposed regression. Let’s not also forget that Barwin had only one sack through his first few games in 2011 as well. Oh, and also – THE DEFENSE IS DOMINANT!
I did see at least one instance where Barwin was headed for a sure sack (or throwaway by Manning) where he was blatantly held, and the refs missed it. That said, I also saw Joel Dreessen once block Barwin with ease in a one-on-one situation.
Interceptions dropped: Johnathan Joseph (2), Earl Mitchell, Brice McCain. Having Mitchell on the list may be a little harsh, as would the inclusion of Glover Quin, who had a good shot at a pick – but it would have been a nice leaping grab even for a WR. Seeing as he’s not a WR, I’m not going to expect him to make that play. It’s also noteworthy that one of Joseph’s drops would have likely been returned for a touchdown, as would McCain’s drop.
Andre Johnson had a couple of drops himself, but his effort to keep the Broncos safety from intercepting one of his drops was a nice recovery. Johnson allegedly told Schaub he was playing like crap and “wanted another chance,” which is kind of hilarious to me. He and Schaub of course hooked up for a 12-yard drive-extending play late in the fourth quarter to help clinch the win.
Gary Kubiak had one of his best games calling plays. He was aggressive from the start, and aggressive with a lead. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Kubiak started to force the run game to run clock (and because the Broncos were starting to struggle to contain Foster). To open the second half, Kubiak came out passing, recognizing how sharp Schaub was, and recognizing that the back half of the Broncos’ secondary was struggling.
Brian Cushing started the season a little bit slow, but he seems to be himself again. He’s never going to be a guy who can cover well, but against Denver he was supremely aggressive, he diagnosed plays quickly, shot through gaps to stop runners, and virtually took away the dump-offs to running backs by putting himself in good position to stop them.
The defense as a whole played a masterful game until Peyton got hot. They did a great job fighting through blocks on screen attempts, and played well sideline to sideline. I was wary of the Denver screen game coming in, but the Texans never once came close to allowing a big play to one of their screens. Impressive. It goes without saying that JJ Watt had yet another dominant game, and to me in the fourth quarter – it looked like the Broncos offense was having more issues with the thin air than the Houston defense. If not for Joel Dreessen’s fluke touchdown, we would be marveling at Houston’s short-yardage defense on that drive.
The Texans were on their way to closing this game out with the first drive of the fourth quarter. Arian Foster, as he often does, had begun to wear the defense down. The Texans did not run the ball at will in this game, but they were getting good chunks, interspersed with a stop by the Denver defense after a one or two yard gain. To start the fourth quarter, Foster was starting to feel it. He was reeling off runs with good chunks of yardage, and the Denver defense started to look gassed. Then Ben Tate came in, fumbled the ball, and the momentum shifted. Without that fumble, I really do feel like the Texans were on their way to putting an end to that game with one of those long, clock-chewing drives.
Derek Newton struggled in this game, but he also had some nice moments in the run blocking game. I don’t know what the stats in this game were for running right vs. left, but despite the rotations going on at both right-side offensive line positions, they seemed to run the ball better to that side.
My biggest takeaway from this game as it relates to Newton, is that on the final offensive possession of the game when the Texans had to get yards to move the chains and keep Peyton Manning off the field, Newton was on the sideline. Ryan Harris actually did pretty well in his stead. Kubiak all but confirmed that this was not a one-game deal. It sounds like going forward, the Texans will now have the right guard and right tackle positions rotating in and out for the foreseeable future. I did not focus on Ben Jones in this game, but I did see him out there plenty, and did not see him causing any disasters. I think there’s a pretty good chance that Jones will be starting full time soon as Antoine Caldwell continues to underwhelm.
That should close the book on the Broncos game. Now we look ahead to the Titans!