The game was close at one point with the Houston Texans trailing the Denver Broncos 16-13 with the ball in the hands of their offense. Before the Texans could blink after a costly turnover, the game spiraled out of control and led to 21 unanswered points by the Peyton Manning led offense.
Manning set an NFL record with most touchdown passes in a season with 51 and he started the game three behind the record. There was no doubt the Broncos wanted to get Manning the record, and the throttle was left down and the Texans defense could not slow it down. Even after, the Broncos' fans left in attendance cheered when Manning set the record and for a moment Reliant felt like it was happening at Sports Authority Field at Mile High with all of the players and media rushing the field to give Manning his congratulations for the record.
It has been that type of season for the Texans, one marred with missed opportunities and today was no different than any of the previous 12 losses.
The offense was outmatched before the game even started. The likes of Dennis Johnson, Deji Karim and Jonathan Grimes were the running back depth chart coming into the game, and the Texans only had one healthy tight end with Ryan Griffin. Brad Smelley was nursing a calf and back injury coming into the game, Garrett Graham was out with a hamstring injury, and the Texans two top running backs and tight end are on the injured reserve.
This was the offensive weapons that were expected to help the Texans pull out a win with Matt Schaub, who has not taken any real meaningful snaps for nearly nine weeks. There was no continuity with Schaub throwing the football and that included to his most favorite target, Andre Johnson.
The offense has been a mess since the beginning of the season, and it should be a good thing that the Texans are heading into their last game of the season. The skill players that the Texans are trying to make NFL caliber players are not even close to NFL starter level at the moment, and that is a big reason for an offense that has been a disappointment all season.
Three Play Sequence that Ended the Game
The Texans' offense had a chance to take the lead and had the ball to start a drive only trailing by three points.
With :21 seconds left in the third quarter, Matt Schaub was flushed from the pocket to his right and saw DeAndre Hopkins on the sideline. If anything, Schaub should have thrown the ball out of bounds but he tried a tough throw to Hopkins on the sideline. Broncos cornerback Michael Adams made a great interception to create a short field for Manning and the Denver offense.
The next two plays broke the sprit of the Texans in a hurry with a drive that started on the Texans 28 yard line.
Knowshown Moreno ripped off an 18 yard run to the right and quickly the next play Manning found Eric Decker for a 10 yard touchdown catch. To make matters worse, Brice McCain fell with his first step on coverage and left Decker wide open for an easy touchdown.
That three play scenario ended the Texans game in a hurry and started the slide for the remainder of the game.
The Texans had their chances to make this a different game, but once again this was about making plays when they counted the most.
Shiloh Keo had TWO interception chances but one resulted in a pass breakup and the other was a dropped interception in the end zone.
Brice McCain, who has struggled all season, had a Manning pass hit him in the chest after the receiver he was covering fell down. He dropped the interception and it would have easily resulted in a pick six touchdown.
Matt Schaub had Andre Johnson wide open on the sideline on a double move, but the pass was uncatchable for Johnson as it sailed over his head and out of bounds. That too would have resulted in a touchdown.
Matt Schaub Being Matt Schaub
The offense did not look much better this week, as we predicted earlier in the week. The time on the bench showed his rust and having new faces on offense did not help matters, but once again Schaub threw a devastating interception to sink the Texans. Locked onto Andre Johnson (who had 13 targets, only 4 receptions) once again led to issues for the offense. Schaub looked uncomfortable and went back to checking the ball down and making throws that did not amount to much. Schaub averaged 4.8 yards per pass attempt and he produced a quarterback rating of 48.9 for the day.
By the Numbers
Texans Total Yards: 240. Broncos Wide Receivers (Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker): 254 yards.
Texans average per rush: 3.3 yards. Starter Dennis Johnson: 2.4 yards.
Texans yards per play: 3.6. Broncos yards per play: 7.3.
Texans defense held the Broncos Offense to 38 yards in the third quarter.
Another Loss Has Made the Texans Tap Out
Thirteen and counting, the Texans are looking for the offseason to save them. Mentally the team is beat and they are ready to turn the page. Since Gary Kubiak was fired, the team has looked worse as a whole, especially on offense. The Texans have not quit, in our opinion, but the season has taken its toll on the players. If losses have wore down the watchers of the Texans, the feeling in the locker room is also one still searching for answers on what has happened during the season.
It is a crazy thought to think that the Texans could pull a feat like this, but the Texans achieved their worst record at home in franchise history going 1-7 at Reliant.
Change is Coming
The Texans showed some early life, but once again the story ended up the same. This could possibly be the last time Texans fans see Antonio Smith, Earl Mitchell, Matt Schaub and Wade Smith, to name a few, plus the coaching staff that feels it is in a lame duck stage at the moment. The offseason will be here this time next week and it will be a matter of time before the changes start raining down on the Texans organization from coaches to players from the 2013 season.