November 7, 2004
Rocky Mountain Road Kill
by Keith Weiland
The Texans left on a jet plane riding a Rocky Mountain high to Denver. Things went downhill fast from there.
Trying for the second time this season to win a third consecutive game, the Texans cratered late in the first half and never recovered for a 31-13 loss to the Broncos. The loss was heartbreaking in that the team could have thrust themselves into a first place tie with the Jaguars in the AFC South had they won.
After a 14-play opening drive stalled just inside the red zone, the Texans’ normally reliable kicker, Kris Brown, pushed a 37-yard field goal just wide to the right. It was the first miss by Brown inside of 40 yards since the last game of the 2002 season when he had a 19-yard field goal attempt blocked against the Titans.
The Broncos’ offense took over next. Following a three-and-out series on their prior possession, quarterback Jake Plummer threw the first of his four touchdown passes to tight end Jeb Putzier. The 34-yard completion gave the Broncos the 7-0 lead in the fourth quarter.
Following a 52-yard field goal by Jason Elam to stretch Denver’s lead to 10-0, the Texans caught a break when Antwan Peek blocked a punt by Micah Knorr on the Broncos’ next possession. Jonathan Wells picked up the loose ball and returned it to the one-yard line. Domanick Davis plunged across the goalline to cut the Broncos’ lead to three with 5:12 to play in the first half.
Plummer went back to work quickly, finding receiver Ashley Lelie streaking downfield for a 40-yard touchdown, restoring the ten-point lead. On his next drive, Plummer hit Rod Smith for another 13-yard score and the 24-7 lead going into the half.
On his first possession in the third quarter, Plummer continued to show a hot hand when he drove the Broncos 80 yards in 7 plays and another touchdown pass, this time to Kyle Johnson for 23 yards. The score gave the Broncos a commanding 31-7 lead.
The Texans allowed Plummer to throw for 234 yards on 16-for-24 passing. Droughns also found room on the ground, running 29 times for 120 yards.
The Texans waited until the fourth quarter to mount their best drive, which began when David Carr found Derick Armstrong on a 44-yard pass. Domanick Davis then chewed up another 18 yards of offense running and receiving before pushing his way into the endzone. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 31-13 in favor of the Broncos.
The road trip doesn’t get any easier for the Texans. The team will travel to Indianapolis next Sunday to face the Colts and try to keep their playoff hopes alive one more week.
Bringing the Payne Seth Payne missed all of training camp recovering from his knee surgery, and he has had to play himself back into shape as a result. After a solid performance last week against the Jaguars, Payne was once again a rock in the middle of the Texans defensive line. He made a season-high four tackles against the Broncos, and for the second consecutive week, he sacked the opposing quarterback. It came against a Denver O-line that had allowed the third-fewest sacks in the league entering the game.
Peek Among the Peaks Antwan Peek maybe hasn’t been on the field as much as he would have liked, but he made his presence known on special teams in Denver. Peek beat his man and put a big hand on the football just as it was punted. The block set up the Texans offense inside the Denver 1-yard line. Later in the game, Peek nearly caused a fumble on a kickoff return, but the officials ruled the Bronco returner down by contact, and there was no replay sufficient to make Dom Capers challenge the ruling.
Gaffney and Armstrong Jabar Gaffney and Derick Armstrong each caught six passes from David Carr and kept the offense moving. Gaffney’s 86 receiving yards marked the third consecutive game in which he has had more than 80 yards, and Armstrong continued to stretch defenses with his 14 yard average per catch.
Pass Defense The Texans secondary did not allow a ton of passing yards to Jake Plummer, but their zone schemes were porous enough for him to find his receivers when he wanted. Mix in some bad guessing on his play fakes and toss in a dash of lackluster tackling, and that’s a recipe for a long afternoon.
Pass Protection David Carr did not have a poor day passing the ball, but the offensive line broke down at key moments and allowed the Broncos into the backfield to collect four sacks.
Old Reliables Falter Andre Johnson matched his season low with three receptions and had one of his worst-looking drops of the season. Kris Brown also proved human inside forty yards, when he is usually as automatic as a sunrise in the east. After Brown toed his attempt just wide of the right crossbar, a sense of "uh oh" warmed over a team that seemed out of sync from that point forward.
After blocking a punt which they converted into an easy touchdown, the Texans drew the score to 10-7 and had momentum on their side. After a bad omen in the form of an unnecessary roughness penalty on DL Jerry Deloach for tapping Plummer out of bounds, Plummer then faked a handoff to his running back and booted to his right.
The Texans defense totally bought the fake, and Plummer nailed Lelie for a 40-yard touchdown pass. With two minutes left to play in the half, the Broncos went up by ten and rolled to an easy win.
Week 8 Ashley Lelie catches a 40-yard pass from Jake Plummer for a touchdown. Final Score Houston Texans 13 Denver Broncos 31 Lookin’ Good
He looks healthy to me. Following the failed fourth down attempt (and ill-advised review of the spot) in the 2nd quarter, Payne stuffed RB Reuben Droughns on three rushes during the ensuing drive to force the Broncos to kick a long field goal after being given the shortened field.
Oh, my eyes!
Robinson was a big reason why the Texans defense had improved since the 0-2 start, but he got played big time while trying to tackle Jeb Putzier on the game’s first score. Then later, with the game’s outcome no longer in doubt, Robinson laid a monster hit on FB Kyle Johnson, only to be lying on his back afterward admirding the birds and stars circling overhead. Thankfully, he was not seriously injured.
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