One of the most complete games in recent history the Houston Texans finally played a complete game, and came away with their third win of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The score doesn't dictate how the Texans dominated much of the game, but a win is a win.
Here a ten random thoughts on what played out on Sunday against the Steelers.
1. A tip of the cap goes to the whole Houston Texans team for overcoming unfaithful fans, a big game, the referees, a scary Andre Johnson injury and the Steelers. They overcame all the odds to pull this game out and beat the defending AFC champions in a convincing fashion.
The first drive of the game was 19 plays, 95 yards and 10:55 seconds and it was the longest in franchise history. The drive covered 115 yards because of the penalties, and this was a great opening statement to open the game, plus it ended with a touchdown. The thinking was that the Texans would show their old selves, but the Texans dominated the 4th quarter and sent the Steelers home.
2. One big concern for the Texans coming into the game was James Harrison from the Steelers. Duane Brown kept him under control and continued his march to the pro bowl. More importantly the Texans schemed and put Harrison in coverage against Owen Daniels and one time against Andre Johnson, the play calling neutralized the Steelers pass rush all game.
3. All I am saying is light your candles and pray for Andre Johnson, we all know what he means to the Texans.
4. Owen Daniels stepped up big time after Johnson's injury. He had 5 catches for 69 yards and a score, and is looking like his old self. His big catches for first downs and his ability to give Matt Schaub some comfort in the passing game proved to be key for the Texans. He became the primary target for Schaub, because no other wide receiver besides Johnson caught a pass. Hopefully, this is the start of getting some more passes thrown his way.
5. If you haven't realized but Arian Foster is pretty good and his ability to read the zone blocking scheme makes people realize that he is better than advertised, and the difference between him and Ben Tate is easy to see. Foster and the offensive line put a 100 yard rusher on the Steelers for the first time since 2005 with a 155 yards on 30 carries with a 5.2 per carry average. Also, Foster had the game clinching touchdown 42 yard touchdown run. Foster put confidence back in the Texans offense and carried the team after the injury to Johnson, he was talking "noise" to Steelers defenders letting them know he was back, and he was.
6. Shaun Cody has slowly become a better nose tackle as the season has been going on. He even had a big sack late in the game to make the Steelers punt. Also, Connor Barwin showed up with one sack and caused some much-needed disruptions against Ben Roethlisberger, which hasn't been seen so far this year. He was one of the players we tagged in players to watch against the Steelers and he showed up. The big thing is the fact Antonio Smith and Mario Williams took over the game with their constant pressure on Roethlisberger and putting him on the ground. The pressure applied to Roethlisberger sent him back on the plane in a walking boot, in Sunday's article we talked about the importance of the defensive line and they answered the call.
7. Brett Hartmann was huge yesterday and overcame a bad performance against the New Orleans Saints to put 3 of his 5 punts inside the 20 and he averaged 47 yards per punt. The big one game when he pinned the Steelers deep after a big play by Brice McCain keeping the football out of the endzone, which meant a long field on a potentially game tying drive.
8. Has anybody noticed that Brian Cushing does not come off the field, and Cushing now calls the plays in the huddle? That was DeMeco Ryans job, but now Cushing is relaying the calls from the sideline. He has been the most active defensive players for the Texans and he is all over the field and leads the team in tackles with 28 total and has led the Texans back to a top 10 defense in the league as of this morning.
9. Johnathan Joseph is better than anyone could realize, or is it the fact he make plays on footballs in the air. Even though his two touchdowns (blocked field goal and interception) were both called back on questionable calls Joseph is proving to be a great signing. He does get passes completed against him, but he mad a huge play on a third down when he left his man to stop Steelers' tightend Heath Miller to tackles him short of the first down. We all knew he would be a major upgrade, but his ability to make impact plays is making him a fan favorite in Houston.
10. Jason Allen was abused majority of the game, but answered the call when he had the game clinching interception. Also, if you didn't know Allen is second on the team in solo tackles with 15, but that is not a good sign if you have a corner back with that any tackles. Allen had potentially a big bust if Danieal Manning didn't tackle Mike Wallace on his 40 yard reception, when Allen just let him loose across the field.
The debate will start Kareem Jackson or Jason Allen at the starting corner position, and majority of the city of Houston will call for Allen to start, but a rule of thumb players usually don't lose their starting position because of injury. It will be interesting to see how Wade Phillips and the defensive staff will handle this situation.
11. Bonus Time
The Texans blocked field goal by Danieal Manning proved huge because it kept the Steelers with a goose egg heading into half time. It was a back breaker for the Steelers and it help put confidence back into the Texans for the second half. Even though the touchdown didn't count, it proved to be the game changing moment of the game.