October 10, 2004
Vikings Plunder Win in Houston
by Dave Sabo
The Texans came up short in their bid to win three straight games for the first time in team history, dropping an overtime thriller to the Minnesota Vikings, 34-28. Coming mere minutes after the Astros dropped a 6-5 heartbreaker to the Braves over at Minute Maid Park, the loss cast a pall over what could have been one of the greatest Sundays in Houston sports history.
Pulling themselves up off the Reliant Stadium turf after being left for dead early in the third quarter and down by 21, the Texans (2-3) forced overtime for the second time in three seasons. After trading possessions to start the extra period, Vikings wideout Marcus Robinson got loose in the Texans secondary, and Daunte Culpepper hit him in stride for a 50-yard score and the win.
The Vikings (4-1) foiled the Texans’ plan to try and control the ball and the clock by holding on to the ball for 20:28 in the first half and taking a 14-point lead into the locker room on two Culpepper touchdown passes to Randy Moss and Nate Burleson. The Vikings looked to have the situation firmly in hand, but they were aided in their efforts by a Texans defense intent on making fourth-string running back Mewelde Moore look like the second coming of Jim Brown, and their offense managed a mere 11 first half plays (nearly all involving Domanick Davis).
Beginning the second half where they left off, the Vikings forced the Texans to go three and out before taking a 21-point lead on a Culpepper-to-Robinson touchdown pass.
Game over, right? Not so fast.
The reins were taken off Carr and the offense as they came right back with a 9-play, 94-yard drive, punctuated by a 2-yard toss Johnson for the touchdown. The defense began showing signs of life, pressuring Culpepper and forcing back-to-back punts.
Carr again drove the Texans down inside the Vikings 5-yard line, and Davis plunged in from the one. Derick Armstrong kept the drive alive on third and six from the Texans 46, stretching out to snag a 35-yard rope from Carr.
Minnesota seemingly put the game away again with 6:58 left on a 50-yard scoring strike from Culpepper to Moss, but the Texans wouldn’t go away. In response, they took the ensuing drive into the endzone after 58 yards in 13 plays.
All the Vikings had to do was run out the remaining 3:11, but the Texans defense stood heroic deep in Minnesota territory, forcing the Vikings to a three and out. After a 15-yard punt return by J.J. Moses, Carr hit Armstrong on consecutive passes. From the Vikings 22-yard line, Carr, under pressure, threw up a ball that Johnson climbed the ladder to get for his twelfth reception and second touchdown of the day, knotting the score at 28.
After another defensive stand, the Texans had a final opportunity in regulation. With thirteen seconds left, Carr was dropped for a sack for the third time on the day, sending the game into overtime. The Vikings won the toss and were forced to go three and out for the fourth time on the day. The Texans wasted their opportunity on their next possession, committing a questionable, but costly, holding penalty before giving up a sack. The winning score came on the same play in which Robinson dropped a sure touchdown pass just two snaps earlier. On his second try, Robinson held on to Culpepper’s deep pass and raced untouched into the end zone. And like that, the Vikings exited Reliant with their pilfered win.
The Texans next travel to Nashville to attempt another winning streak by taking on the hated Titans.
Playing Keep Away For the first time this year, the Texans didn’t commit a single turnover, a trend that absolutely must continue if the Texans plan on having further success this season.
Carr to (insert name of young receiver here) Carr and the boys rewrote the team record book. Of Carr’s team-record 27 completions, 24 went to receivers with three years of experience or less. Johnson set team marks for catches and yards (12, 170), Carr set marks for attempts, completions, yards and TDs (43, 27, 372, 3), and the team set marks for points scored in a quarter and a half (21, 28). Plus, the team had two receivers surpass 100 yards receiving in one game (Johnson, Armstrong).
Loud Crowd Another four false start flags credited to the Texan faithful. That’s 16 on the season or just over 5 a game. Reliant Stadium is quickly garnering a reputation as a place that teams don’t want to visit.
Controlling the Ball The Texans held the football for all of 9:32 in the first half. They ran only 18 plays and gained just 21 yards on the ground. So much for keeping the ball away from Culpepper and Co.
Forcing Turnovers While the Texans didn’t give the ball away, they also didn’t take it away, either. They came close a couple of times, most notably on their first drive wherein Jason Babib nearly got the strip on Culpepper, but he had to settle for just a sack.
Could You Wrap That Up, Please? The Texans put on an atrocious display of “tackling”, especially on a reserve, Mewelde Moore. Far too often, the Texans seemed content with putting a lick on him and failing to finish off their tackles. Losses and short gains turned into positive yardage and first downs. Thanks to poor tackling, Moore accumulated 186 yards from scrimmage.
Failing to Double Switch
Garner’s done it to great effect in this series, but fails to in the top of the eighth; thus, having to pinch-hit for Lidge in the bottom of the inning. The Astros season hinges on Russ Springer who horks up the lead in the ninth.
The last one. Hey, it was overtime.
Having hit Marcus Robinson directly in his hands two plays earlier only to have the ball clank to the ground, Daunte Culpepper took a sack, then called Robinson’s number again. Robinson blew by the defender and strolls into the end zone for a 50-yard touchdown and a win.
Week 5 Marcus Robinson races past Jason Simmons for the game-winning TD. Final Score Houston Texans 28 Minnesota Vikings 34 Lookin’ Good
The third overall pick in the 2003 draft again showed why he was so coveted by the Texans. Forget the raw numbers (12 catches, 170 yards, 2 TDs), it was the manner in which he compiled them that was so jaw-dropping. Both touchdown catches were highlight reel material, and the plays he made in traffic were spectacular. The thought of watching this kid for the next decade gives me goose bumps.
Oh, my eyes!
Texans’ Run Defense
They “held” fourth stringer Mewelde Moore under a hundred yards, but that’s just because the Vikes went pass happy in the second half. Moore rushed 12 times for 67 yards, a 5.6 yard-per-carry clip. Unacceptable.
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