August 17, 2002
Turning Over New Leaf
by Ric Sweeney and Keith Weiland
After relatively flawless performances in their first two exhibition games, the Texans looked every bit like an expansion team Saturday night in their 19-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
For the game, Houston committed 19 penalties for 94 yards, including nine in the first half that nearly doubled their season total of five. OL DeMingo Graham got things started by jumping offsides on the game’s very first play from scrimmage.
Later on the drive, a delay of game wiped out K James Tuthill‘s 41-yard field goal. Tuthill’s 46-yard redo sailed wide right, and the flood gates had officially opened.
On Kansas City’s ensuing series, CB Marcus Coleman‘s illegal hands to the face penalty wiped out Trent Green’s unsuccessful third down conversion, giving the Chiefs a first down at the Texans’ 20. Four plays later, former Longhorn Priest Holmes rambled into the end zone from 10 yards out to give Kansas City the lead, 7-0, with 5:18 left in the first quarter.
QB David Carr brought the Texans’ back, hitting WR Jermaine Lewis for 36 yards, Carr’s longest completion as a pro. But another delay of game penalty stalled the drive, as the Texans settled for a 30-yard field goal from K Kris Brown to cut the Chiefs’ lead to four, 7-3.
After a 19-yard scoring run from Tony Richardson was wiped out by a holding call, Kansas City settled for a 44-yard field goal from Morten Andersen, who would kick four on the night, upping the lead to 10-3. On the drive, LB Jeff Posey sacked and wrestled the football from Green, which he then recovered, but officials reversed the call, citing the same rule that kept New England’s Super Bowl hopes alive last year against the Raiders.
After exchanging punts, Houston embarked on their most impressive drive of the night, led by Jonathan Wells. The rookie running back carried eight times for 40 yards, converting three first downs, before Lewis dropped a Carr pass at the goal line, leading to Brown’s 32-yard field goal, which again cut the lead to four, 10-6.
Posey then sacked back-up Todd Collins on third-and-10, but DB Jason Simmons was whistled for holding on the play, wiping out Posey’s efforts. The Chiefs again made the most of the Texans’ sloppy play as Andersen nailed a 32-yarder with :10 left in the half, increasing Kansas City’s lead, 13-6.
Andersen added two more field goals in the third quarter, the second following a Kent Graham interception, as Kansas City increased their lead heading into the final quarter, 19-6.
Even when things broke the Texans’ way, the team failed to capitalize. The defense forced three second half turnovers (interceptions by Hakim Akbar and Jacoby Shepherd and a forced fumble by Uhuru Hamiter) and blocked a field goal (Hamiter), but the three breaks yielded only three points.
Running Game Took Baby Steps
The Texans achieved two important milestones on Saturday. Led by Jonathan Wells, the team crossed the 100-yard mark in rushing totals for a game, and they netted a respectable average of over 3.5 yards per carry. By no means did Houston put fear into the Kansas City defense, but for a team struggling to get any momentum in the running game, this was at least a start.
Linebackers Make an Impact
Jeff Posey continued his excellent play in the preseason, but you might not know it by simply looking at the box score. In addition to his four tackles, Posey had a sack and forced fumbled overruled by the inane tuck rule. Later, he stripped Chiefs QB Todd Collins of the ball before Jason Simmons was called for holding. Reserve inside linebackers Troy Evans and Billy Granville also had nice second halves as well.
The second half proved fruitful for the Texans defense as Granville recovered a fumble created by Uhuru Hamiter and caught two tipped passes for interceptions. All three plays helped set up the offense to get back into the game, and the picks by Jacoby Shepherd and Hakim Akbar will no doubt help their cause in making the final roster. For Shepherd, it was his second in two weeks.
Now that’s the expansion team we’ve come to expect! The Texans started the first play of the game on offense with a foul start, and the downpour of yellow hankies never stopped. A critical delay of game on James Tuthill‘s first field goal attempt took three points off the board. His miss on the next attempt from 46 yards meant that the Texans couldn’t capitalize on an early lead.
Red Zone Offense
The Texans had the ball deep in Chiefs’ territory on a few occasions but came away only with field goals. A lack of concentration, plus a few costly penalties, prevented the Texans from making the score as close as it should have been. When the defense forces a fumble to set up a first and goal, the offense must find a way to put the ball into the end zone.
This is still a problem area for the Texans. The defense consistently over-pursued the ball carrier and failed to contain the outside. The Chiefs had no problem recognizing this weakness, too, as they called for reverses and misdirections. Marcus Coleman, Matt Stevens, Khari Samuel, and several others were guilty. This combined with blown gap assignments by the linebackers and poor run recognition and tackling in the secondary should have Houston’s regular season opponents salivating.
With the Chiefs up 10-3 and 1:42 left to play on the first half clock, the Texans faced a critical third-and-eight opportunity from the Kansas City 14-yard line.
David Carr nailed a pass to Jermaine Lewis in the chest at the 1-yard line, but Lewis couldn’t keep his hands around the football. Instead of tying the game, Kris Brown booted a field goal to cut the lead to four. The damage was done, however, as Lewis’ drop killed a long 14-play drive, perhaps the team’s best of the preseason.
Jonathan Wells deserves a lot of credit for his 63 yards on 16 carries, but center Steve McKinney played a nice game. He routinely communicated with his guards and offered leadership to a unit that was missing Fred Weary, who didn’t play because of a death in his family. McKinney opened rushing lanes, kept pass rushers at bay, and even administered a pancake block.
Jeff Posey was again a menace in the first half, only this time several of his best plays didn’t count. Troy Evans was key to a second half performance that kept Kansas City from building too much on their lead. He made good hits and recorded a couple tackles in the Chiefs backfield. Evans also added a few quarterback pressures, despite failing to get a sack.
Kris Brown and Chad Stanley further established themselves as the team’s starters, but two players got their mitts on Kansas City field goal attempts. Charles Hill put a hand on a kick from Morten Andersen in the first half, but a lucky bounce on the crossbar still gave the Chiefs three points. Uhuru Hamiter, fresh from his forced fumble, blocked a Lawrence Tynes attempt late in the fourth quarter from 29 yards.
Final 1 2 3 4 F Texans 3 3 0 3 9 Chiefs 7 6 6 0 19 PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 15 8 123 0/0 J. Quinn 15 8 82 0/2 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 16 63 3.9 0 Moreau 7 21 3 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD A. Harris 2 45 23 0 Jackson 4 45 11 0
8.24.02 | 7pm
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