Tanks a Lot, Houston

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December 12, 2005
Tanks a Lot, Houston

by Dave Sabo

The conspiracy theorists will have a field day with the Texans’ latest loss.

Trailing 13-10 with 15 seconds remaining in a game neither team seemed too particularly interested in winning, the Tennessee Titans provided the Texans with an enormous gift. Taking a lateral from Todd Washington at his own 24, Jerome Mathis wove his way down to the Titans 26 where he was brought down by his face mask. After moving half the distance to the goal line on the personal foul penalty, Houston was on the verge of sending a game that had all but ended moments before into overtime.

Then, Kris Brown "Howfielded" the worst field goal attempt in NFL history.

Shanking his 31-yard attempt miserably left and short, the Texans yakked up another loss and further solidified their hold on the number one pick overall in next April’s draft. The “Texans are Losing on Purpose” contingency will have a lot to discuss this week.

Houston took a rare lead late in the first quarter. Starting at their own 34, the Texans mounted a 6-play drive highlighted by a 44-yard scamper by Domanick Davis. The offense then stalled at the Tennessee 12, and Kris Brown converted on a 30-yarder.

Both teams then seemed intent on boring viewers to death until the Titans Steve McNair hit TE Ben Troupe and RB Travis Henry for back-to-back completions of 25 and 42 yards respectively. What should have been the drive of the day for Tennessee was then sabotaged by dropped passes by WR Drew Bennett and Troupe. Kicker Rob Bironas tied the score with a 23-yard field goal.

After swapping possessions, the Texans took over on their own 28 with 1:45 to play in the half. Inexplicably able to suddenly run a two-minute offense, Texans quarterback David Carr completed 5 of 6 passes, the last to Davis for a 3-yard score. Dom also accounted for 19 yards on three carries.

Carr survived a Titans onslaught which accounted for 5 first half sacks to send the Texans into the locker room with a 10-3 lead.

The Titans tied the score again late in the third quarter. After the Texans avoided a safety on what certainly looked like a hold in the endzone, the refs gave Tennnessee a make-up call on the ensuing punt. Adam Jones returned Chad Stanley’s short punt 52 yards for a score. He was helped by a blatant shove to the back of Stanley directly in front of the linesman. No call, and the score was knotted at 10.

After swapping possessions early in the fourth quarter, the Texans blew a golden opportunity. After mounting a 40-yard drive lasting nearly six minutes, Brown had his 37-yard attempt blocked when the interior of the line absolutely collapsed.

When the Titans took over, McNair mixed timely runs with three completions, and Bironas converted a 21-yard attempt with just 15 seconds left, thus setting the stage for Mathis’ heroics and Brown’s debacle.

The loss drops the Texans record to 1-12 on the season, moving them ever closer to the #1 pick in the 2006 draft and Reggie Bush, providing the “X-Files” types with a slew of ammunition for their tanking theories. The Titans climb to 4-9 on the year with the win. Next week, the Texans return to Houston to face the Cardinals. What Went Right?

The Running Game The oft-maligned offensive line has at least seemed to have mastered the zone blocking scheme. They opened holes, and Domanick Davis hit them, often making the first man miss and constantly fighting for extra yards. With 139 yards on the day, Davis is but 24 yards short of being only the 15th running back to rush for 1000 yards in his first three seasons.

Run Defense While the defense suffered an occasional breakdown, holding a team (ANY team) to under 100 yards rushing is cause for celebration with the 2005 Texans. Yeah, it was the Titans and their 20th ranked rushing attack, but a fine effort nonetheless. Ends Robaire Smith and Gary Walker spent a good part of the afternoon in the Titans backfield wreaking havoc.

The Reggie Bush Sweepstakes While it’s hard to find a silver-lining after another close loss, the opportunity to draft newly minted Heisman winner, Reggie Bush (or trade him for a boatload of picks) is pretty decent consolation.

What Went Wrong?

Not-So-Special Teams Jerome’s kick return and the fake field goal don’t make up for the short or shanked kicks, miserable coverage efforts, or giving up a return touchdown to the execrable Adam Jones. It was a pathetic effort from a normally stellar unit.

Pass Protection Another six sacks on the day to put David Carr and the offensive line over 200 for his career. It is amazing that Carr is still walking around at this point.

Pass Rush Had the Titans had anybody that could have held on to the ball, the beaten and broken down Steve McNair might have flirted with a 300-yard passing day. Instead, he was allowed to sit in the pocket and survey the field. He avoided the sack all afternoon and even hobbled around for 17 yards rushing.

Key Play Of The Game

With 15 seconds left and the game all but over, Todd Washington fielded a squib kick at his own 27, tossed it back to Mathis who followed a convoy of blockers to the Titans 26 where Tennessee’s Reynaldo Hill dragged him down by the face mask. The personal foul moved the ball half the distance to the goal line and set the stage for Brown’s disaster.

Week 13 Recap Titans defender Reynaldo Hill grabs the facemask of returner Jerome Mathis to set up a possible game-tying field goal. Final Score Houston Texans 10 Tennessee Titans 13 Lookin’ Good

Domanick Davis
Dom rushed for 139 yards on 22 carries and added seven catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. If the Texans choose to trade that #1 pick, performances like this will be the reason why.

Oh, my eyes!

Kris Brown
The normally reliable Brown had a go-ahead field goal attempt blocked, then he horribly duck-hooked another that would have sent the game into over time. Here’s hoping he doesn’t lock himself in a room scribbling “Laces Out!” on the walls.

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