September 15, 2002
by Ric Sweeney
Like they were gonna go 16-0?
The Texans looked every bit like an expansion team Sunday afternoon in San Diego, losing to the Chargers, 24-3.
QB David Carr completed only 6 of 25 passes for 87 yards and threw no touchdowns. He was sacked nine times and his three turnovers led to 14 San Diego points.
LB Junior Seau returned a Carr interception 25 yards to Houston’s 6 yardline with 3:43 left in the first quarter, leading to a 3-yard end-around from Curtis Conway, who scored his second touchdown of the day to increase the Chargers’ lead, 14-0. Earlier, Conway caught a badly underthrown Drew Brees pass for a 35-yard score on the game’s first drive.
Meanwhile, the Texan offense was stuck in neutral all day, undone by abysmal pass protection, conservative playcalling and way too many costly penalties. Corey Bradford‘s hold wiped out the Texans’ first play from scrimmage, a 10-yard run by James Allen, who finished with 3.9 yards a carry on 13 rushes, setting the tone for the remainder of the game.
With the Texans’ offense grounded, Houston’s defense nearly made a game out of it early in the second quarter. After a Chad Stanley punt (combined with a Charger penalty) pinned San Diego at their own 6, Jeff Posey sacked Brees at the Chargers’ 1-yard line, dislodging the football, which Jamie Sharper pounced on in the end zone. But officials reviewed the play and ruled Brees down prior to the fumble. Jermaine Lewis‘ 10-yard punt return three plays later set the Texans up at the Chargers’ 35, and an unsportsman-like penalty after the play momentarily moved Houston to the Charger 20. But Kenny Wright was guilty of holding on the return, resulting in offsetting penalties. Houston settled for a 45-yard Kris Brown field goal. The Chargers would match Brown’s score late in the half to push their halftime lead to 17-3.
San Diego’s final score came early in the fourth quarter. Pinned at their own 5, Carr was sacked in the end zone by Ben Leber and his fumble was recovered by Johnson for the game’s final score, 24-3.
Chad Stanley‘s punts were once again boomers, allowing the Texans to get down field and wrap up Tamarick Vanover; Kris Brown remained perfect as a Texan, hitting from 45 yards, and Jermaine Lewis looked like a potential gamebreaker with big returns.
Houston’s offense turned the ball over three times, went three-and-out 8 times and punted 10 times. Under the circumstances, the Texans’ defense (which also forced 10 punts) played well and kept an overmatched team in the game.
Allen averaged 3.9 yards a carry (on 13 rushes), broke a 17-yarder and had another 23 yards wiped out by penalties, all against a pretty tough, playoff-caliber defense.
The Chargers abused the Texans’ inexperienced line, sacking Carr nine times and forcing countless more hurries. Jimmy Herndon was absolutely manhandled by DE Marcus Wiley and the support, especially from Jonathan Wells and Billy Miller, was awful. The Texans have now allowed 15 sacks in two games. Real tough to win when your quarterback spends the afternoon on his back.
Penalties wiped out big runs from Allen, an interception by Chris Carter and a potentially huge unsportsman-like penalty on San Diego. The 8 by the offense put Carr into way too many long yardage situations.
Chris Palmer’s Playcalling
Down 14 in the third quarter, 2nd-and-10 at San Diego’s 43, the Texans call a fullback dive. A fullback dive!! The Texans obviously want to protect Carr and keeps things simple, but their gameplan Sunday was so conservative, Pat Buchanon was seen complaining. And they never seemed to make a single adjustment to the Chargers’ relentless blitz.
With 3:43 left in the first quarter, David Carr‘s bullet to Corey Bradford bounced off the receiver’s hand and into the arms of Junior Seau, who rumbled 25 yards to set the Chargers up at the Texans’ 6. Three plays later, Curtis Conway’s 3-yard run gave San Diego an insurmountable lead on this day, 14-0.
As mentioned, James Allen ran the football well Sunday. He gave Texan fans hope that when the offensive line is at long last healthy, he might be able to move the chains with some consistency, which will be a big boost to David Carr.
LB Jeff Posey was second on the team with 7 tackles and his sack (Houston’s only one for the game) resulted in a big 20-yard loss that nearly turned the game around. Nearly.
Jermaine Lewis had returns of 37 and 48 yards and set the Texans up with decent field position all day. He looked very much like a potential gamebreaker, something the Texans’ offense could use.
Final 1 2 3 4 F Texans 0 3 0 0 3 Chargers 14 3 0 7 24 PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 25 6 87 0/2 Brees 28 15 163 1/1 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Allen 13 51 3.9 0 Tomlinson 27 84 3.1 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD Gaffney 2 37 18.5 0 Conway 5 113 22.6 1
2002 Record: (1-1)
09.22.02 | 12pm
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