October 3, 2004
by Bob Hulsey
Silver and black was the theme of the day – the black hair of Houston quarterback David Carr and the silver scissors which will be used to cut that hair after a 30-17 Texan victory over the Oakland Raiders at Reliant Stadium. Coupled with the Astros securing a playoff berth downtown, it made for a day of happy Houston sports fans.
Carr and his father had let their mane grow until the Texans won two games in a row, after failing to mount a winning streak in their first two seasons. Now, they can expose the back of their necks again.
The Texans (2-2) created four second-half turnovers to silence the Oakland attack, which had matched Houston to a 17-17 draw at halftime. The Raiders (1-3) weren’t shy in announcing their plans to pick on rookie cornerback Dunta Robinson. That was a big mistake as the first-rounder from South Carolina made the first two interceptions of his career and displayed his return skills, taking them back a combined 86 yards. It certainly wasn’t Oakland’s only mistake.
Houston took the early lead when Old Reliable Kris Brown nailed a 46-yarder late in the first quarter after his Oakland counterpart, Sebastian Janikowski, missed a 35-yard attempt. But Janikowski nailed a 50-yard try at quarter’s end to tie the score at 3.
The Texans appeared to be opening up an advantage as Jonathan Wells and Tony Hollings were making good gains on the ground but Wells fumbled away their first excursion into the red zone when Ray Buchanan put his hat on the ball.
Wells was off the hook a short time later when linebacker Jamie Sharper blitzed Raider quarterback Kerry Collins, swatted the ball away from him, scooped up the pigskin and ran unobstructed 16 yards for a 10-3 lead.
After Houston failed to pick up a 4th-and-1 at the Raider 45, Amos Zereoue, subbing for an injured Tyrone Wheatley, took off on a dazzling 55-yard jaunt to tie the score at 10.
Unfazed, Carr responded with completions of 31 yards to Andre Johnson and 29 yards to Jabar Gaffney that set up a one-yard touchdown plunge by Wells with three minutes left in the first half. Zereoue tied it at the half with a three-yard run that completed a 61-yard drive. "Famous Amos" had 104 yards in the first half after sitting for most of the first quarter. The Texan defense corraled him for just 13 rushing yards in the second half.
A 62-yard touchdown swing pass from Carr to Wells to open the second half was wasted when Gaffney was called for holding downfield. Three plays later, Houston punted.
Then the Raiders, who were flagged 13 times during the game, began losing the football. Robinson snagged a Collins pass at the Raider 44 and brought it back 25 yards for his first career interception. After reaching the Raider eight, Houston mysteriously ran Wells into the line three times and settled for a 21-yard Brown field goal.
The third Raider turnover was the strangest. The shotgun snap struck Collins, who wasn’t expecting it, in the facemask. Jay Foreman fell on it at the Raider 30. Carr made Oakland pay with a 15-yard rolling touchdown strike to Johnson crossing the field.
Collins was picked again by DeMarcus Faggins at the Houston one-yard-line to snuff the next Raider drive. The Texans did a masterful job of milking the clock on a 14-play, 7:33-time-of-possession drive that ended with a 44-yard field goal from Brown. On the drive, Johnson and Wells both eclipsed 100 yards on the afternoon. Wells finished with 105 yards on the ground while Johnson wound up with 115 through the air. Carr ended up with 228 yards passing.
The final blow came from the sticky-fingered Robinson who snared his second pick and set off on an electrifying 61-yard cross-field return at the two-minute warning to seal the victory.
Houston will try for their first-ever three-game winning streak when they host the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday at Reliant Stadium. The Texans have another streak to fall back on, going undefeated (4-0) against NFC opponents at home.
Winning The Turnover Battle
Houston coverted five turnovers to 20 points and kept the Raiders off the scoreboard in the second half as they feasted on Kerry Collins interceptions for the second time in their short history (Giants, 2002).
Establishing The Run
Early on, the Texans were successful running Wells behind the right side of the line where tackle Todd Wade and guard Zach Wiegert created running room. That provided the foundation for future plays since Oakland had to respect the run.
Protecting The Passer
Even when the Raiders chose to blitz, Carr usually had time to throw. Sometimes, he used his legs to get out of trouble but the line gave him protection most of the time. The entire line deserved an A+ for the way they held off a top ten defense with several Pro-Bowlers.
Born to be Wild(card)
Yeah, we know we’re not HoustonProBaseball.com, but props to the Phil Garner and the Astros for their remarkable turnaround. Hopefully, this is will be a fun fall for Houston sports teams.
Getting To Collins
The Texans had a sitting target in the veteran Collins and they only got to him once, that was the "sack" by Sharper which turned into a fumble return for a touchdown. Houston blitzed frequently and was able to pressure the quarterback several times but showed they are still not able to harass an NFL quarterback enough to be feared.
Reaching The End Zone
The stats will show they converted two of four Red Zone ventures into touchdowns with one turnover and one field goal but the Texans had the ball ten times in Raider territory and could only take it to pay dirt twice.
Limiting Kickoff Returns
Doug Gabriel had 199 yards in kickoff returns, including a twisting 42-yarder in the second half. You know the coaches are going to chew some special-teams butt about that.
Robinson’s first interception changed the momentum but it was changed for good when, with 30 seconds left in the third quarter, the Raiders lined up in the shotgun for a 3rd-and-8 at their own 33.
The Texans’ defense crept towards the line to show blitz. Collins was so absorbed with studying the Houston defenders that he failed to see his center’s snap, which hit his face mask and fell to the feet of Zereoue standing next to him. When Amos bent forward to pick up the ball, he kicked it back towards the line where Jay Foreman made the recovery at the Oakland 30. Carr converted this gift into six points four plays later, giving Houston the breathing room it needed to dominate the fourth quarter.
Week 4 Demarcus Faggins records one of Houston’s three interceptions. Final Score Houston Texans 30 Oakland Raiders 17 Lookin’ Good
The oft-overlooked inside linebacker was all over the field laying licks. His best moment came in the second quarter when he took advantage of a stunt to blitz Collins untouched, pawed the ball as Collins double-clutched, caught the hop and ran into the end zone for the Texans’ first touchdown. He had eight tackles and two assists.
Oh, my eyes!
A decent afternoon of four recepts and 48 yards was marred when he nullified a touchdown pass to Wells by holding Charles Woodson downfield and then killed the drive by dropping the subsequent third down pass from Carr.
2004 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.14 Dallas 18-0 08.21 at Pittsburgh 3-38 08.27 at Denver 17-31 09.02 Tampa Bay 9-17 Regular Season 09.12 San Diego 20-27 09.19 at Detroit 16-28 09.26 at Kansas City 24-21 10.03 Oakland 30-17 10.10 Minnesota 28-34 10.17 at Tennessee 20-10 10.24 BYE — 10.31 Jacksonville 20-6 11.07 at Denver 13-31 11.14 at Indianapolis 14-49 11.21 Green Bay 13-16 11.28 Tennessee 31-21 12.05 at New York Jets 7-29 12.12 Indianapolis 14-23 12.19 at Chicago 24-5 12.26 at Jacksonville 21-0 01.02 Cleveland 14-22 Overall Record 7-9