A Real Laugher

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November 23, 2005
A Real Laugher

by Charles Spooner

It was a beautiful night for football in Houston as the Kansas City Chiefs dropped by Reliant Stadium last Sunday. Unfortunately, the visitors met the comedy troupe known as the Houston Texans instead. If you find interceptions, fumbles, missed tackles, and shoddy football humorous, a Texans’ game is all grins and giggles. Especially for the Chiefs, who howled their way to a 45-17 over the now 1-9 Texans.

The Texans came out throwing on the Chiefs, who that ranked near the bottom in pass defense. Seemed like a good idea, but the Texans can foil any plan. Five passes and one fumbled snap resulted in zero first downs on the Texans’ opening two possessions.

On the other side of the field, the Chiefs offense looked in control using both the run and the pass effectively. The Chiefs opened the game with drives of 52 and 72 yards, with running back Larry Johnson slashing his way to a 23-yard touchdown run and a Kansas City 10-0 lead.

What’s the best thing about the opposition scoring on the Texans? The opportunity to watch a Jerome Mathis kickoff return, of course. The rookie did not disappoint, as he took the kick just inside the goal line and headed straight up the field. Mathis made an abrupt turn at the 15-yard line, and exploded down the left side. Picking up key blocks by Jonathan Wells, Lewis Sanders, and Charlie Anderson, Jerome left the Chiefs coverage team grasping for air and raced to a 99-yard kickoff return.

After the Texans defense forced a three-and-out, Phillip Buchanon gave the offense good field position following a 37-yard punt return. But the Texans offense rejected the generosity when an Andre Johnson personal foul took the Texans back to the Chiefs 41-yard line and away from field goal range.

After a couple of punts, the Chiefs went on an impressive four play, 71-yard drive. Kansas City hit on plays of 17, 11, and 17 yards before Eddie Kennison easily crossed the middle of the Texans defense to haul in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Trent Green.

The Texans seemed to have picked up a first down on their next series, but Andre Johnson made another faux pas. The Texans’ 2004 Pro Bowl representative fumbled during a reverse, and the Chiefs were back in business at the Texans 43-yard line. A pass interference call in the end zone against Buchanon setup a short touchdown run by Larry Johnson, and put the Chiefs in front 24-7.

The next Texans possession had the team stall at the Chiefs’ 35-yard line, where holder Chad Stanley mishandled the center snap on what would have been a 52-yard field goal attempt. When the sure-handed Stanley is making errors, you know it is not your night. However, the Chiefs actually lost eight yards on their next possession, and punted the ball into the end zone with 39 seconds left in the half.

Deep in your territory with less than a minute left, the instincts of Texans head coach Dom Capers normally tell him to take a knee and re-group at halftime. Not this time, as the Texans come out on the move and take the ball just short of midfield with only 18 ticks left on the clock. After missing Corey Bradford on a short out pattern to the left sideline, Carr throws the same pass on the ensuing play. This time Bradford is not looking for the pass, but Chiefs corner Eric Warfield sees it all the way. Warfield streaks down the sideline and (despite a late scare on the kickoff from Mathis) take a 31-7 advantage into the half.

What was left of a massive crowd halftime exodus saw the Texans make noise in the third quarter. Cornerback Lewis Sanders (in for Buchanon injured two plays previous) picked off Trent Green and took the ball to the Kansas City 37-yard line. After a fourth-and-one conversion via Jabar Gaffney’s reception, Domanick Davis cut the deficit to 17 with a three-yard score.

The Texans drove 72 yards on their next series, sparked by Davis’ 33-yard catch-and-run to the Chiefs’ 4-yard line. Two incompletions to Gaffney sandwiched around a Davis run for no yardage forced a fourth-and-goal. This time, Capers reverted to his usual conservative tendencies. Kris Brown’s short field goal cut the Chiefs’ lead to two touchdowns, and sent many Texan fans to the aisles. Keeping it close was not worth staying up late on a school night.

The fourth quarter was all Kansas City, all the time. Larry Johnson picked up 67 of his franchise high 211 yards rushing in the period, as the Chiefs tacked on two additional touchdowns. With the final score in the books, the few remaining fans made their displeasure heard as the Texans exited the field.

The joke that is the 2005 Houston Texans should be amusing next week, as the St. Louis Rams pay their first visit to Reliant. While the 4-6 Rams average 25 points per game, the Texans have not scored more than 20 in a game this season. Come early as to not miss a chuckle at the expense of the worst team in the NFL. What Went Right?

Fastest Man in the NFL? Jerome Mathis looks like an Indy racer on the track with pace cars as he’s zooming for another big kick return. Mathis duplicated his effort against the Colts last month, with 266 yards on seven kick returns against the Chiefs. Included was a 99-yard effort that gave Texans fans some hope in the opening quarter. Not a typical shifty returner, Mathis leans into a turn like a 200-meter sprinter taking his last corner. Then again, Jerome is a 200-meter sprinter. And, he is likely the fastest player in the NFL.

A Sanders Sighting Lewis Sanders has been in the background for much of his first season as a fourth Texan cornerback. But with injuries to both Petey Faggins and Phillip Buchanon, Sanders made himself visible against the Chiefs. Four tackles, two passes defensed, an interception that led to the only offensive touchdown for Houston. And that’s just on defense. Lewis hustled down and downed a Stanley punt at the 3-yard line, and he had a nice seal block on the Mathis return for a touchdown. Looks like Sanders has earned a start against the Torry Holt-powered Rams next Sunday.

Wiegert a Winner at Right Tackle? The left offensive tackle position gets the most scrutiny among Texans observers. While Chester Pitts has been able to solidify that spot for the past few games, it is the right side that has been giving the team fits all season. High-priced Todd Wade struggled prior to his season ending knee injury. Reserves Seth Wand and Victor Riley were no better. With right guard Zach Wiegert coming back from a high ankle sprain, the Texans decided to shift the veteran to right tackle. Though Wiegert had only a few repetitions at right tackle in training camp, Zach preformed well against Chiefs defensive end Eric Hicks, keeping the pass rusher at bay for much of the evening. Who knew the Texans best tackles were their opening day starting guards?

What Went Wrong?

Step Up, David Carr David Carr has been a standup guy in his four seasons as the Texans starting quarterback. Through the record number of sacks, the numerous losses, and the finger pointing, he has stood up to the criticism and towed the company line. While David has been a model employee thus far, he must now become a leader on this Texan football team. Dom Capers’ conservative approach to football has failed. His right hand man, Joe Pendry, has installed an offense that would be considered cautious fifty years ago. It’s not working in 2005. It’s time for David to take control of this dink-and-dunk offense and throw the ball down the field by any means necessary, be it communicating this to the coaches or by changing the plays on the field. Capers and company are lame ducks. If Carr doesn’t want to follow them out the door, he needs to stand up to the man and be the man.

Fantasy Running Back’s Dream Rams running back Steven Jackson must be in a great mood this week. Why wouldn’t he be? Christmas will come early for Steve, as the Rams meet the not-so-vaunted-Texan run defense this coming Saturday. Larry Johnson picked up his presents last Sunday, with a career and franchise best 211 yards rushing to go with a couple of touchdowns. Stopping the run is less about technique and more about desire. This unit of the Texans has little of either and is allowing a league worst 160 yards per game on the ground at nearly 5 yards per clip. Rather than give these guys helmets and pads, just hand them flags and flashlights to direct the running backs into the end zone.

Where Has the Love Gone? The announced attendance for the Kansas City versus Houston Texans game was over 70,000. I am not sure where they were hiding, as the crowd looked under 50,000 at kickoff. That number probably dwindled to less than 30,000 by the second half. Hard to believe that these are the same fans who almost blew the roof off Reliant on September 8th, 2002. A Texan game is no longer an event. The love affair is over. Mr. McNair, call us when you have a winner.

Key Play Of The Game

Is there a key play in a 45-17 blowout? Probably not, but there was a key decision that indicates why this head coach had lost this team and these fans.

Down 31-14, the Texans had a fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line late in the third quarter. Dom Capers had gone for the first down on the previous scoring drive. Would he throw caution to the wind and give his team a chance at victory? Has RoboCoach been re-programmed?

No, the field goal unit comes on. Capers thought the Texans would have better odds at scoring 17 third quarter points (while holding the Kansas City offense in check for the entire fourth quarter) than by getting four yards on a single play to make it a two score game. No wonder the fans have quit on this team. No wonder the players have quit on this coach. Dom Capers has quit on this team.

Week 10 Recap Larry Johnson somehow eludes yet another arm tackle of Marcus Coleman. Final Score Houston Texans 17 Kansas City Chiefs 45 Lookin’ Good

Open Roof
Didn’t help in the outcome of the game. But it sure felt nice.

Oh, my eyes!

Andre Johnson
AJ cost the team 2 scores in the first half with bone-headed mistakes. You’re better than this Andre.

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