The Houston Texans dominated the early part of the game and missed some big opportunities to put away the Oakland Raiders this past Sunday and fell to 3-2 with a 25-20 loss. The Texans seemed to be in a "funk" from the opening whistle, and were their own worst enemy the whole game, and gave the inspired Raiders team room to breath and escape with a victory.
Here are 10 random thoughts from Sunday's game.
1. The Oakland Raiders defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage and held Arian Foster to 68 yards rushing (22 attempts) and 2.8 yards per rushing attempt. They made the Texans go to the air, which is not the comfort zone of the offense and put Matt Schaub in positions to get hammered by the front 7 of the Raiders. Richard Seymour dominated the whole game, and threw around Wade Smith and Chris Myers and caused issues for the Texans the entire game.
2. Kevin Walter has a big game, which makes me question why he is not used more when Andre Johnson is on the field. Walter looked fast and had some great catches when needed, and still looks like a viable option in the passing game. There should be no reason why he shouldn't be looked to more in the passing game, because he proved he still had plenty left in the tank. He had 5 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown, and stepped up to take the place of the injured Johnson.
3. Jacoby Jones was targeted 11 times and had 1 catch for 9 yards which was not what the Texans needed from him yesterday. Granted the fact him and Schaub looked like they were not in sync and it made potential passes just out of Jones' fingertips. To make matters worse he had a false start penalty which proved costly then he fair caught a punt inside the 5 yard line. He made some big mental mistakes which sometimes proves bigger than physical mistakes, and he had some big mental mistakes.
4. The special teams were horrid Sunday with coverage and tackling. Brett Hartmann seems to get nervous in those pressure packed punts, he only averaged 33.8 yards a punt (8 punts). Also, Dominique Barber had a game he would like to soon to forget. He was responsible for the punt block when he let the rusher get the inside gap and block the punt and he was flagged for a holding penalty on a later punt. The big one was when he had a chance to make the tackle on the fake punt run by Rock Cartwright and he read the play great, but instead of making the play he was to worried about acting to the referee to draw a holding flag. Barber had the opportunity to make a huge play on the fake punt and whiffed. Neil Rackers also put the Texans in a terrible spot with his missed field goal, because at the end of the game the Texans would have kicked the game winning field goal instead of looking for a touchdown. Special teams laid an egg as a whole unit.
5. It was nice to see the other rookies contribute not named J.J. Watt. Brooks Reed and Brandon Harris took big steps as NFL players with pretty solid games after they were forced into action. Reed was put in after Mario Williams pectoral injury and Harris after Brice McCain taking a nasty hit from Brian Cushing on a team tackle. Brooks looked good off the edge and looks like a player that is gets better with more snaps, he had 4 total tackles and some hits on the quarterback. As for Harris he gave some quality coverage on the slot receiver and even caused an errant pass on a blitz late in the game. Look for Harris and Reed to get more playing time with the injuries creeping into the Texans locker room.
As for J.J. Watt he has been a non factor after his big three game stretch. With only one tackle against the Raiders, Watt seems to have hit the ever well-known rookie wall. It is expected and I would seem to think he will work himself out of this lull in play.
6. Brian Cushing is looking like what made him the defensive rookie of the year and was all over the field once again for the defense. Cushing had 8 total tackles, 1 sack and a batted pass. He was a tackling machine and did not back down from any Raider during the game. He was focused the whole game and the defense fed off of his aggression. It is easy to see why Cushing does not come off the field and seems to be the new leader of this defense.
7. Besides Jason Allen and Glover Quin, who both gave up touchdown passes, the defense was pretty solid. They held the leading rusher in the NFL, Darren McFadden to 51 yards on 16 carries and held the Raiders to 94 rushing yards. Jason Campbell was only sacked 2 times coming into Sunday and the Texans came away 3 sacks and plenty of quarterback hits and hurries. The defense held the Texans in the game, but being on the field so much they broke down in pass coverage and gave up 2 big touchdown passes. When you hold an offense to 278 total yards of offense, a win should be the outcome.
8. This was probably the most ineffective 416 yard passing day in Texans history, or that is how I felt about it. Matt Schaub only completed 47.1% on 51 attempts and had at least 8 ball batted at the line of scrimmage. He had two touchdown passes and two costly interceptions.
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On the last play of the game it is easy to say what Schaub should have done, but I do know that he should have thrown it away to get another play. On the pass Jacoby Jones broke to get open then stopped and Schaub was trying to get it to Jones. Jones did not help the cause by not making a play on the ball and not breaking it up. The last play of the game was total disaster, and everyone was accountable for that ending.
We all know Schaub is much better as a quarterback when the Texans can run the ball, but he has to develop the "IT" factor that the great quarterbacks have to win those late games. He doesn't posses that factor and it shown in previous games and on Sunday. The Texans will only be as good as Schaub can be, the real question is he going to be able to lead the Texans to the playoffs and beyond.
9. Missed opportunities:
1.Lawrence Vickers dropped touchdown pass
2. Joel Dreessen's dropped 3rd down catch which ended up costing the Texans a timeout (Challenge)
3. Neil Rackers missed 41 yard field goal
4. Matt Schaub's late interception to end the game
5. Missed tackle on the fake punt by Barber
6. Jason Allen's missed tackle on the all out blitz for a touchdown.
10. The Texans injures might be catching up to them, with Andre Johnson (hamstring) out and the pending news of James Casey and Mario Williams both with pectoral injuries the Texans could be without three big time players as the season goes on. They don't look the same without Johnson and Casey on offense and they don't look that scary on defense without Williams. Let's hope there is good news on the horizon.
I belive in divine intervention and with the passing of Raiders' owner, Al Davis the Texans should have known this was going to be a tough game. The Raiders' seemed to make more plays, played more physical and at times wanted the game more. I don't know if Al Davis had something to do with the outcome from Heaven, but it sure felt like it in the stadium. We said in our things to watch for on Sunday, that the Raiders were going to be on a mission, and they were.