September 22, 2002
Colts Kick Texans
by Ric Sweeney
Thank God for Kris Brown.
The Texans’ offense struggled for the second consecutive week Sunday against Indianapolis, losing to their AFC South rival, 23-3. Houston has not scored an offensive touchdown since the fourth quarter of their opening night victory against the Cowboys, a span of nearly nine quarters.
On the bright side, Jonathan Wells rushed for 93 yards on 14 carries and the Texans as a whole ran the ball effectively, gaining 126 yards and averaging 4.2 yards a carry. Meanwhile, the Texans’ passing game was once again stymied by dropped passes, ill-timed penalties and ultraconservative playcalling.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the Colts and Peyton Manning, who completed 21 of his 28 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns, including a 42-yarder to Quadry Ismail with 2:31 left in the first quarter which put Indianapolis ahead to stay, 7-0. After the teams exchanged turnovers in the second quarter, Mike Vanderjagt hit a 26-yard field goal to increase the Colts’ lead, 10-0. He then hit a 39-yarder later in the quarter to give Indianapolis a 13-0 halftime lead.
On the Texans’ first possession of the second half, Wells and a Colt penalty helped Houston score their first, and only, points of the day. Wells rushed for 44 yards on six carries, but it was Ben Scoli’s rougher the passer on 2nd-and-20 that gave the Texans a first down and kept the drive alive. Brown, who had earlier missed a 54-yard field goal (which he kicked the hell out of, but hit the upright), finished the 12-play, 56-yard drive with a 24 yarder.
Still down only ten, 13-3, the Texans seemed to catch another break early in the fourth quarter. With Indianapolis driving, Marcus Coleman stripped Reggie Wayne and Gary Walker recovered at Houston’s 13. But an ill-conceived reverse to Corey Bradford lost 11 yards, and Houston wound up punting, unable to take advantage of the Colts’ turnover.
Manning answered when Coleman mistimed a jump, tipped the ball into the air allowing Wayne to make a pretty adjustment, hauling in the pass and rumbling 43 yards for the score, increasing the Colts’ lead, 20-3.
The defense again played well while the offense sputtered, but they eventually broke down as Manning picked them apart, exploiting Coleman and the safeties. Next, Houston travels to Philadelphia to face the red-hot Eagles.
Jonathan Wells ran hard in the first half, seemingly doing what James Allen could not: find holes and gain yards. Wells started the second half and finished with 93 yards on 14 carries, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. He broke tackles, made defenders miss and moved the chains. He also made some key blocks (notably on David Carr‘s 3rd down scramble); hard to imagine him not starting next week.
Jeff Posey had two big sacks and Jamie Sharper seemed to be everywhere, contributing 9 tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble. They, along with Keith Mitchell, Jay Foreman (who was also in on the fumble) and Kailee Wong, were one of the big reasons Edgerrin James had a rather pedestrian 88 yards rushing (just 3.5 yards a carry).
The Offensive Line
They were far from perfect — still too many costly penalties — but 126 rushing yards and only four sacks, two on the game’s final, desperate drive, are marked improvements over the last two weeks. Could this young, inexperienced unit be gelling? Possibly. They’ll get a much better test next week against the Eagles.
It was problem in the preseason, but it hadn’t yet reared its ugly head yet in the games that count, primarily because David Carr‘s spent more time on his back than throwing passes. But today, it was a big problem. Among the biggest drops, TE Rod Rutledge in the second quarter, which led to an interception (and, eventually, a field goal) and Avion Black, one series later, dropping a third down pass that hit him in the chest.
The Texans have a hard enough time moving the football when everything’s going their way; they simply can’t afford drive-stopping penalties. Worse today, the defense and special teams got into the act. Overall, Houston committed nine penalties for 67 yards; Carr threw for 99. Not good.
They weren’t bad, but they weren’t very helpful, either. Kris Brown missed a 54-yard FG; granted, he hit the upright and had he straightened it out, might’ve been able to hit from 64 yards, but… when he’s your only offensive weapon… Troy Walters had two punt returns and averaged 26 yards; meanwhile, Jermaine Lewis and Avion Black made questionable decisions on punts (Lewis fielded a punt inside his own five; Black fair caught a ball when it appeared no one was around him) and weren’t too terribly effective on their returns.
With 2:31 to go in the first quarter, Marcus Coleman and Eric Brown had what appeared to be a communication breakdown that allowed Quadry Ismail to get wide open deep downfield.
Manning’s pass was on target and Ismail scored the game’s first touchdown from 42 yards out. It would prove to be the only one the Colts would need.
Jonathan Wells ran hard, found holes, broke tackles and made plays behind an offensive line that looked much improved. Wells rushed for 93 yards, averaging 6.6 a carry and broke a 37-yarder in the second quarter. It’s enough to give you hope that maybe, just maybe, a running game might be coming together.
Jeff Posey had two big sacks, but kind of disappeared after that; Gary Walker and Seth Payne again played well on the defensive front, but Jamie Shaper, who had nine tackles, two assists, a sack and was in on the hit that forced a fumble late in the first quarter, seemed to be all over the field Sunday.
Final 1 2 3 4 F Colts 7 6 0 10 23 Texans 0 0 3 0 3 PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 22 12 99 0/1 Manning 28 21 272 2/0 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 14 93 6.6 0 James 25 88 3.5 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD Dawson 3 32 11 0 Harrison 8 110 13 0
2002 Record: (2-1)
09.29.02 | 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