Bring On the Cowboys!

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August 30, 2002
Bring On the Cowboys!

by Bob Hulsey and Ric Sweeney

The games that don’t count finally came to an end Friday night as the Texans lost their final preseason dress rehearsal to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 17-13.

But the score was inconsequential, even moreso than normal, as most people were much more concerned with the status of rookie QB David Carr, who hurt his knee early in the second quarter.

After completing a pass to WR Corey Bradford, Carr was knocked to the turf when DE Anthony McFarland rolled on his leg. Carr stayed down for several minutes before walking off the field on his own power. He termed the injury a “bruise,” claiming he felt a helmet hit his knee. He did not return.

Mike Quinn came in and finished what Carr had started, a 10-play, 52-yard drive that ended with a Jonathan Wells 2-yard touchdown run. Wells’ score was the Texans’ first offensive touchdown in over 10 preseason quarters, a dreadful stretch spanning four games.

Tampa Bay jumped to an early 14-0 lead on two Houston miscues. On the team’s second play from scrimmage, Wells fumbled and DB Dexter Jackson scooped up the loose football and returned in 21 yards for a quick 7-0 lead. Stopped on the ensuing series, Chad Stanley‘s punt was blocked by DB John Howell and returned 11 yards for a touchdown by Aaron Stecker. Before fans had even settled into their seats, the Texans trailed, 14-0.

After Wells’ touchdown cut the lead to seven, 14-7, the Texans defense stuffed Tampa Bay, forcing them to punt from their own three. Behind James Allen and newcomer Tony Banks, the Texans moved 31 yards before settling for a 41-yard Kris Brown field goal, further cutting into the Bucs’ lead, 14-10.

In the third quarter, S Kevin Williams intercepted Shaun King and set Houston up at Tampa Bay’s 24. But the Texans again had to call on Brown, who hit a 48-yard field goal to cut the lead to one, 14-13. The much maligned Brown finished 9-for-9 during the preseason.

Tamp Bay later increased their lead to 17-13 on a 48-yard field goal from Martin Gramatica. It was the Bucs’ only offensive score of the night as Houston’s defense looked much improved, holding Jon Gruden and company to 207 total yards.

After finishing the preseason 1-4, the Texans will next play host to the hated Dallas Cowboys Sunday night in Reliant Stadium as the games that count, at long last, get underway.

What Went Right?

First Team Defense
They pitched a shutout and showed a pass rush, led by Gary Walker, who disrupted early on, leading Tampa to focus more on the line which freed up LBs Kailee Wong and Keith Mitchell to pressure from the outside. The Buccaneers drew several offensive holding penalties, proof they were getting beaten on a regular basis. Chucky Gruden had that look.

Look Ma, A Running Game
Both Jonathan Wells and James Allen made some positive gains and the makeshift offensive line, at times, looked like they had a clue. While still several notches below where we want it to be, it was a glimmer of hope that David Carr won’t have to be the entire offense.

Mike Quinn and Tony Banks
Quinn had a five-for-five night and finished off the touchdown drive after Carr went down. Banks, while obviously still learning the offense, showed he can make plays as a backup quarterback.

What Went Wrong?

Two Bad Plays
The fumble by Wells and the blocked punt led to 14 early Tampa points that were the difference between a W and an L. Take those two plays out and the Texans clearly outplayed a playoff-caliber team.

Position Battles
Not a lot of bubble players made positive impacts. For every nice catch that someone like Sherrod Gideon makes, he follows with a dropped pass. For every nice block somebody like Chad Overhauser makes, he wipes out with an ugly miss. Capers and Casserly will have a lot of tough decisions to make this week. Ties usually go to the younger players.

Wrapping Up
Pro players need to be able to make clean solid tackles. The Texans still miss more than they ought to. The defensive coaches have probably noticed this too.

Key Play of the Game

It was a simple drive-sustaining seven-yard completion to Corey Bradford, but it almost meant a great deal more.

David Carr lay crumpled on the Reliant Stadium turf, grabbing his right knee. Visions of a 1-15 season danced in 70,000 heads as The Franchise looked like his mentor Trent Dilfer did a few weeks before. But Carr got up and limped off the field. The doctors think it is just a bruise and the Texans seemed to play with a stronger focus and intensity after that.

Players of the Game

Jarrod Baxter, the rookie fullback, had just four touches (two rushes and two catches for 24 yards) but his lead blocking from the “I” formation was the key to many of the Texans’ best running plays, including the touchdown carry by Jonathan Wells. Baxter also saved one drive with a fumble recovery.

Gary Walker, coming off surgery, had a “that’s-what-I’m-talkin’-about” first quarter that set the tempo for the defensive effort of the night. He’s clearly the best player on the Texans’ defensive side of the ball.

Special Teams
Erik Flowers, the recent pickup from Buffalo, made a strong tackle on the kickoff coverage but, in reality, his performance on defense and his overall hustle factor into the props. He has the chance to be that missing ingredient on the defensive line.

Score By Quarters Final 1 2 3 4 F Bucs 14 0 3 0 17 Texans 0 10 3 0 13   Statistical Leaders PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 9 5 58 0/0 King 17 8 89 0/1 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 9 29 3.2 1 Stephens 10 29 2.9 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD Gaffney 4 51 13 0 Williams 3 42 14 0   Next Week Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys
2002 Record: (0-0)
9.08.02 | 7pm CST
Houston, TX

  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