Not Too Shabby….

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  Billy Miller   TE Billy Miller grabs David Carr’s 24-yard TD strike.

August 5, 2002
Not Too Shabby….

by Ric Sweeney

The Texans lost to the New York Giants Monday night, 34-17. But the results were merely an afterthought as the excitement and euphoria surrounding Houston’s debut gave way to anxious moments and prayers early in the second quarter when DB Leomont Evans was carted off the field after suffering what appeared to be a serious neck injury.

Fortunately, Evans’ condition improved throughout the night. At last report, he was conscious and alert, his vital signs were normal and, after initially not having any feeling in his arms or legs, was said to have regained sensation in his upper body and his right leg.

With Evans on their minds, the Texans racked up a list of franchise firsts in their inagural game. WR Jabar Gaffney got things off to a nice start with a 36-yard return of the opening kickoff. On the Texans’ ensuing series, RB James Allen lost three yards on Houston’s first run and then caught QB David Carr‘s first pass, a well-designed screen play, for 11. On their second drive, Carr hit WR Jermaine Lewis for 19 yards, which netted the Texans’ their first first down.

After a 71-yard punt return by WR Avion Black, K Kris Brown scored the first points in franchise history on a 22-yard field goal with 8:35 left in the second quarter. That score cut the Giants’ lead to seven, 10-3. After S Kevin Williams intercepted the first pass in team history, Carr hit TE Billy Miller on a 24-yard strike for the first touchdown, which briefly tied the score, 10-10, with 1:38 remaining in the half. Miller’s touchdown led to another first for the team: they won their first official’s challenge after the replay booth reviewed his catch.

The Giants hit paydirt first on Tiki Barber’s 1-yard run, which finished off a 10-play, 66-yard drive. Owen Pochman increased the lead, 10-0, after nailing a 23-yard field goal, which followed a Carr interception.

After the Texans tied the score late in the half on Miller’s catch, TE Jeremy Shockey helped move the Giants to a late score, barreling over Williams on a 49-yard rumble before catching an 8-yard touchdown pass with :30 left in the half.

After Pochman hit a 37-yard field goal with 5:10 remaining in the third quarter, Texans QB Kent Graham hit WR Sherrod Gideon on a pretty 40-yard bomb to cut the lead to three, 20-17. Graham was a perfect 4/4 on the night for 56 yards and the lone touchdown to Gideon.

The Giants finished the scoring with a 57-yard Jesse Palmer pass to Jonathan Carter and a 99-yard interception return by DB Clarence LeBlanc (who’s second interception in the end zone ended the game).

What Went Right?

The Return Game
Gaffney and Black each provided big returns, as did RB Travis Prentice, who brought a fourth quarter kick back 44 yards. Carr and the young offense will need decent field position this year; hopefully, Monday’s game is a portend of things to come.

Jeff Posey
The OLB was an absolute terror, recording the first sack of the night, getting another one later and adding 3 definitive quarterback hurries.

Billy Miller
David Carr is going to need a dependable tight end and Miller seems to be emerging as the early favorite. He and Carr hooked up on a nifty 24-yard touchdown that looked similar to a play they ran in Friday’s scrimmage with the Cowboys.

Melissa Stark
Come on, like you didn’t know this one was coming? ABC’s sideline reporter looked absolutely radiant in a red, sleeveless sweater, her green eyes glistening… when does Houston host Monday Night Football?

What Went Wrong?

In addition to Evans, WR Trevor Insley was carted off the field after breaking his ankle. Also, OLB Kailee Wong, who committed the team’s first penalty, sprained his ankle.

Both offensively and defensively, the Texans struggled with it. Forget what the second and third and even fourth units did, Tiki Barber ran at will on the Giants’ opening drive and the Texans’ gaggle of backs produced 70 yards on 29 carries for a paltry 2.4 yard per carry average. Yikes.

Kevin Williams
He did record an interception, we’ll give him that. Unfortunately, few will remember it because Giants’ rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey Bo Jackson’ed Williams on his 49-yard rumble, slamming him to the ground with a fearsome shoulder. It provided John Madden with a night’s worth of material.

Secondary Play as a Whole
In addition to Williams’ speed bump impression, Marcus Coleman was absolutely turned around early in the game by Ike Hilliard and then Armani Toomer beat rookie DeMarcus Faggins later in the same drive to help set up the Giants’ first score. Giant WR Jonathan Carter split zone coverage in the third quarter and was wide open on his 57-yard touchdown reception, and was anyone covering Shockey? On the night, the Giants’ threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns.

Key Play of the Game

Kevin Williams‘ interception set up the team’s first touchdown, but Avion Black‘s 71-yard punt return was bigger for two reasons. First, it seemed to really energize what looked to be a nervous team; it was exactly what they needed to calm everyone down and get them back into the game. It eventually led to three points.

But maybe more importantly, Evans was hurt on the play, and as he lay motionless on the field, the young, inexperienced Texans huddled around one another to pray for their fallen teammate. With Evans now seemingly on the road to recovery, it may prove to be a pivotal moment for a team still trying to learn each other’s names. Teams have come together over much less.

Players of the Game

No one really shined, but it’s pretty obvious this team is going to go as far as QB David Carr will take it. He finished 9/17 for 96 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. We got to see flashes; he certainly has a strong arm and he oozes confidence.

Fans have been wondering why Jeff Posey is ahead of Keith Mitchell on the depth chart at OLB. Well, tonight they found out. Posey was a menace all night, recording two sacks and three quarterback hurries.

Special Teams
Who needs Jermaine Lewis? Avion Black‘s 71-
yard punt return set up Kris Brown’s 22-yard field goal, the first points in franchise history. It was such a pretty return, we’re even willing to overlook the fact that the Giants’ punter actually caught Black from behind. Paging team speed….

Special Mention
You know, for an expansion team playing their first game, the Texans looked awfully poised and disciplined throughout the first half and well into the third quarter, when most of the first and second team players were still in the game; so big props to head coach Dom Capers, who seems to already have a young team closer to midseason form than anyone could’ve humanly expected.

Score By Quarters Final 1 2 3 4 F Giants 10 7 3 7 34 Texans 0 10 7 0 17   Statistical Leaders PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Sankey 21 12 127 0/2 Palmer 25 12 245 2/1 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 7 21 3 0 Barber 6 27 4.5 1 REC NO YDS AVG TD Prentice 5 46 9 0 Carter 3 100 33 1   Next Week New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints
08.10.02 | 7pm
New Orleans, LA

  2002 Schedule PRESEASON 8.05 GIANTS 17-34 8.10 @ Saints 13-10 8.17 @Chiefs 9-19 8.24 DOLPHINS 3-24 8.30 BUCCANEERS 13-17 REGULAR SEASON 9.08 COWBOYS 19-10 9.15 @ Chargers 3-24 9.22


3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review