We’re #32!

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October 10, 2005
We’re #32!

by Charles Spooner

If a tree falls in a forest, and nobody is around to hear it fall, does it make a sound? If a really bad football team loses to another bad team, and nobody is watching, does anyone care? Profound questions that were partially answer at Reliant Stadium when the Tennessee Titans defeated the lowly Houston Texans 34-20. The loss, combined with the Green Bay Packers rout of the New Orleans/Baton Rouge/San Antonio Saints, left the Texans as the only winless team in the NFL.

The Titans took the opening kickoff and gave the Texans a forecast of what was in store this afternoon. Led by Chris Brown’s 35 rushing yards, Tennessee drove 70 yards eating a little over 9 minutes on the game clock. A Chris Brown 2-yard touchdown run was nullified by penalty… no big deal. Three plays later, Titan quarterback Steve McNair hit his tight end Ben Troupe on a short pass and Troupe knifed through the Texans defense for a Tennessee score.

The Texans responded with a drive of their own, sparked by Domanick Davis’ hard-nosed running. An encroachment call against the Titans enormous defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth gave the Texans a key fourth down conversion. However, the drive stalled with a holding call against Texan left tackle Victor Riley, and the home team settled for a Kris Brown 32-yard field goal.

After a quick three-and-out by the Titans, the Texan offense went back on the attack. A 44-yard burst off right tackle by Davis put the Texans into Titan territory. But another key penalty by the Texans, taking a Davis touchdown reception off the board, stymied another drive. Brown’s second field goal cut the Tennessee lead to 7-6.

Four completions by Steve McNair set up a 52-yard field goal by Rob Bironas (who?) and extended the Titans margin to 10-6. The final two minutes of the first half saw four change of possessions and ended with a rarely seen free kick attempt, which fell short, after a Titan fair catch of a Chad Stanley punt to the Texans’ 49-yard line.

The Texans came out in the 2nd half firing the football, with 5 passes out of six plays. Corey Bradford allowed a pass to slip through his fingers in the end zone, bringing Out Brown to connect on his third field goal of the game.

After a nice three-and-out by defense, momentum had swung in the Texans favor. That was short-lived, as Carr was sacked for the fourth time on the day. The Titans would finish with seven sacks of Carr… or about half as many as Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte got on the “Pretty Boy” in their television ads that ran during the Astros game.

On the next possession, Steve McNair discovered that Texans cornerback DeMarcus Faggins could not cover wide receiver Drew Bennett in man coverage. A big 41-yard completion to Bennett led to Jarrett (son of Walter) Payton’s first career touchdown run. Less than four minutes later, McNair found an uncovered Bennett in the end zone, and the Titans took a commanding 24-9 lead.

The third quarter closed with more pressure on Carr. A tipped interception on a fourth down conversion attempt by Titans corner Andre Woolfolk ended any hopes of seeing the Texans’ first victory of 2005. The ensuing Titans field goal pushed Tennessee ahead 27-9. And the rout was on.

Following Kris Brown’s fourth field goal of the game, Tennessee’s first round pick Adam “Pacman” Jones returned a kick 71 yards to the Houston 23-yard line. The Texans defense stiffened, but the Titans picked up consecutive third downs with dubious pass interference calls. Then, a strange ovation erupts. Those with portable televisions and radios in the crowd react to Lance Berkman’s grand slam in the 8th inning of the Astros-Braves game 4 of their divisional series. Oh, and McNair’s quarterback sneak gives the Titans another touchdown.

The Texans put together a scoring drive with Carr hitting Bradford on both a touchdown pass and two-point conversion. No one really noticed, as the fans that stayed were glued to the closest portable TV in their section.

Next week, the Texans travel to Seattle where they will face a high-flying Seahawk team in primetime. Is there a better place than the Emerald City for a group of tin men such as the Texans to find some heart? Probably, as the Seahawks have won 15 of their last 18 home contests. While there is a real possibility these not-ready-for-primetime players will be embarrassed by their teal-colored hosts before a national audience, do not fret. Most sports fans will be tuned in to the Astros and the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. What Went Right?

I Love Dunta
Whether he’s deflecting a Steve McNair third down pass or stuffing Chris Brown on a sweep, watching cornerback Dunta Robinson is worth the price of admission. Robinson plays smart and fearless, despite playing on an 0-4 team that seems to have quit. There’s no quit in Dunta.

I Love Domanick
The statistics show that Domanick Davis accounted for 173 of the Texans’ 257 yards of total offense. And half of teams first downs. What the numbers do not indicate is the desire Davis had in comparison to his teammates. Domanick is the epitome of an overachiever on a team that continues to underachieve. Davis is part of the solution.

I Love the ‘Stros
You have to admit it. Much of the sting of the Texans fourth straight defeat was soothed by the Astros stirring comeback victory over the Braves to win their divisional series. And if the Juicebox gang can keep it going all the way to the World Series, will anyone really notice the catastrophe on Kirby until Thanksgiving? Let’s go Astros, let’s go! What Went Wrong?

Carr Has Become a Jalopy
Yes, David has less time in the pocket than a $20 bill at a strip club. He’s beaten more than an egg white at a vegan restaurant. But when a play is there to be made, Carr has to make it. Directing an offense that went 0-13 in third down conversions, including misfiring on a sure touchdown pass to rookie WR Jerome Mathis, isn’t going to cut it. And the Titans’ defense should have been David’s slumpbuster. Carr seems to lose a little will to compete every week.

Turnover? What’s a Turnover?
Remember at the end of the 2004 season, when the Texans defense went 13 consecutive quarters without allowing a touchdown (sobs). Well, the defense created 9 turnovers during those games. Now, their non-turnover streak is at 16 quarters, with the last 4 quarters against a mediocre offense that averaged 2.5 turnovers a contest. The streak is almost comical now, with balls bouncing off Texan defenders’ hands as if they were pinball bumpers.

Spotlight Off. Lineman of the Week – Victor Riley
Riley won the Texans’ left tackle “competition” by losing weight and coming into training camp in decent condition. At some point between then and now, Victor seems to have found a couple or twenty of those pounds. After allowing four sacks to three different Titan pass rushers, Riley has taken his ineptness as a pass blocker to a new level. Where’s Jimmy Herndon when you need him?

Key Play Of The Game

Nearing the end of the third quarter, the Texans faced a fourth-and-one from just inside midfield. Since the Texans were down 24-9, Dom Capers uncharacteristically made the call to go for the first down. Field position be damned. With the Titans showing blitz, David Carr stayed with the play, took the snap, and to back peddle. And back peddle. And back peddle. With each step, the Titans Pro Bowl linebacker Keith Bullock closed the distance on the quarterback. Finally, Carr saw Jerome Mathis breaking open on a crossing pattern and released the pass. Too late, as Bullock was all over David and deflected the pass. Titans’ cornerback Andre Woolfolk came down with the interception ended whatever unrealistic hopes the Texans had of an Astronian comeback.

Week 4 Recap David Carr is pressured out of the pocket by yet another defender. Final Score Houston Texans 20 Tennessee Titans 34 Lookin’ Good

Kris Brown
Four field goal attempts. Four field goals. They don’t have to look pretty.

Oh, my eyes!

Andre Johnson
Andre Johnson hobbling with an injured calf muscle? This season just keeps getting better and better.

2005 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.13 Denver 14-20 08.20 Oakland 19-17 08.26 at Dallas 9-21 09.01 at Tampa Bay 14-38 Regular Season 09.11 at Buffalo 7-22 09.18 Pittsburgh 7-27 09.25 Bye   10.02 at Cincinnati 10-16 10.09 Tennessee 20-34 10.16 at Seattle 10-42 10.23 Indianapolis 20-38 10.30 Cleveland 19-16 11.06 at Jacksonville 14-21 11.13 at Indianapolis 17-31 11.20 Kansas City 17-45 11.27 St. Louis 27-33 12.04 at Baltimore 15-16 12.11 at Tennessee 10-13 12.18 Arizona 30-19 12.24 Jacksonville 20-38 01.01 at San Francisco 17-20   Overall Record 2-14