The Big Win

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  Jonathan Wells   RB Jonathan Wells rumbles 40 yards to set up the Texans’ only TD.

August 10, 2002
The Big Win

by Keith Weiland and Ric Sweeney

Last Monday’s Hall of Game was a night of firsts for the Texans, with one notable exception: they failed to pick up their first win. On Saturday, Houston won for the first time in franchise history, beating the New Orleans Saints, 13-10.

Led by rookie LB Greg White, the Texans’ defense, which was suspect, to say the least, against the Giants’ in their debut, held the Saints to just a field goal and 49 total yards of offense in the second half. The team recorded six sacks and three turnovers, including an interception by CB Jason Suttle with :37 remaining to ice the game.

Offensively, rookie QB David Carr again looked poised and confident, despite constant pressure from the Saints’ defense. Playing the entire first half, Carr completed 9 of 14 passes for 95 yards. He did not throw a touchdown or an interception.

The Saints struck first, capitalizing on the Texans’ lone turnover of the night (a botched handoff exchange between Carr and RB James Allen). QB Aaron Brooks marched New Orleans 70 yards on 12 plays, ending with RB Deuce McAllister’s five-yard run, giving the Saints an early second quarter lead, 7-0.

After the Texans’ ensuing drive stalled, P Chad Stanley pinned New Orleans deep in their own territory with a 50-yard punt. After stopping the Saints, the Texans drove 40 yards to set up Kris Brown‘s 39-yard field goal with just :32 left in the half to cut into the Saints’ lead, 7-3.

Rookie RB Jonathan Wells then started the second half off with a bang, breaking a 40-yard run on Houston’s first play from scrimmage. After a pass interference penalty on the Saints moved the ball to the 1-yard line, Wells finished the drive with a 1-yard plunge which put the Texans in front, 10-7. For those keeping score at home, it represented the Texans’ first lead in franchise history.

It was short-lived.

Five minutes later, Saints kicker Jeff Reed nailed a 29-yard field goal to tie the score, 10-10, capping an 11-play, 49-yard drive that was kept alive by DeMarcus Faggins‘ pass interference penalty on third-and-six. The teams remained scoreless until the fourth quarter when White came up with the play of the game.

The former Minnesota Gopher jarred the football from QB Jeff Lewis at the Saints’ 12-yard line and LB Terrell Washington recovered the loose football, setting the Texans up at the Saints’ six. After three consecutive Travis Pretince runs netted -3 yards, Brown kicked a 27-yard field goal to give Houston a lead they would not relinquish, 13-10. White, a seventh round pick, finished with 5 tackles, 4 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Down the stretch, the defense held the Saints in check with two interceptions, the first by DB Jacoby Sheppard, the second by Suttle.

What Went Right?

Defense Made Plays
The defense, which was brutalized by the Giants on Monday night, showed vast improvement against a sluggish Saints’ offense. Most noticeable was the improvement on run defense, holding New Orleans to 89 yards on the ground (3.6 yards per carry). The pass rush was a force all night, too, as the Saints were only able to throw for 180 yards. The secondary even helped the takeaway margin with late interceptions by Jacoby Shepard and Jason Suttle.

Greg White
The seventh round draft pick was around the ball all night, wreaking havoc in the Saints’ backfield. He totaled four sacks and two forced fumbles, including the one that set up the go-ahead field goal midway through the fourth quarter. White also had five tackles on the night.

Third Down Efficiency
Though the Texans finished only 5-for-14 on the night, the statistic is not indicative of how well the first team offense did in moving the chains on third down. They were 2-for-3 in the first quarter and 4-for-7 for the half. The key to the success was due to the accuracy of David Carr and the good hands of his receivers.

What Went Wrong?

Blitz Protection
Carr was only sacked one time, but the offensive line and backfield had too many breakdowns in the first half on blown blitz assignments. The Saints weren’t throwing anything too complicated at the Texans, but the line was confused nearly every time an extra man rushed the passer. James Allen was ineffective in blitz support.

Run Blocking
Take away Jonathan Wells‘ first carry of the second half, and the Texans were only able to total 59 yards on 35 attempts. Yuck. A per carry average of 1.7 yards just won’t cut it in the NFL, and that even includes Carr’s nimble scrambling of 18 yards on 4 carries. Even with the 40-yard burst by Wells, the Texans still failed to reach the 3.0-yard per carry plateau.

Tight End Containment
For the second straight week, tight ends gave the Texans’ defense fits. This time it was Boo Williams catching the ball four times for 61 yards with nary a defender near him. The inside linebackers and safeties need to improve on their pass coverage to keep from getting exposed every week.

Key Play of the Game

With the game tied at 10 and 9:12 left to play in the fourth quarter, Greg White sacked Saints’ quarterback Jeff Lewis and a forced fumble deep in Saints territory.

Following just a 3-man rush, White chased Lewis to the sideline and poked the ball free for linebacker Terrell Washington to recover at the Saints’ 6-yard line. The play set up the field goal that put the Texans up for good, 13-10.

Players of the Game

The Texans, receivers, led by free agent Corey Bradford‘s three receptions, were sure-handed targets for David Carr for the entire first half. Even tight end Rod Rutledge and fullback Jarrod Baxter showed off their soft hands as each hauled in a pass from Carr.

Greg White had the Saints asking Who Dat? all night long. Five tackles, one assist, four sacks and two forced fumbles ought to earn White praise from coach Dom Capers and respect from his teammates.

Special Teams
On a night where the coverage teams were out of sync and Jabar Gaffney had more problems fielding punts, punters Chad Stanley and John Baker were up to the task in the Big Easy. Stanley’s first punt carried 50 yards and his second went for another 48 before being negated by penalties. Baker wasn’t far behind as his three punts averaged 46 yards.

Score By Quarters Final 1 2 3 4 F Texans 0 3 7 3 13 Saints 0 7 3 0 10   Statistical Leaders PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 14 9 95 0/0 Delhomme 12 9 92 0/0 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 10 50 5 1 McAllister 8 27 3.4 1 REC NO YDS AVG TD Bradford 3 38 13 0 Williams 4 61 15 0   Next Week Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs
8.17.02 | 7:30pm
Kansas City, MO

  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