Shooting the Birds

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December 18, 2005
Shooting the Birds

by Dave Sabo

I’m sure that there’s a joke in here somewhere about birds in the hand and bushes, but I can’t find it so, I’ll just revel in the Texans second win of the 2005 season. Reeling from their third straight come from ahead loss, the Texans hosted the equally inept Arizona Cardinals and romped to a 30 -19 victory.

Led by back-up running back Jonathan Wells, the Texans recorded their highest point total of the season and set a team record for points in a quarter, racking up 24 in the second. Forced into the lineup due to starter Domanick Davis’ knee injury, Wells rushed for 87 yards on 28 carries.

After spotting the Cardinals a three-to-nothing lead in a lackluster first quarter, the Texans offense exploded in the second. Wells struck first with a 7-yard run early in the quarter. Quarterback Kurt Warner came right back, driving the Cardinals 81 yards to take the lead at 10 -7.

Not to be outdone, David Carr was perfect, completing 4 passes during a 10-play, 63-yard drive culminating in Vernand Morency’s impressive 25-yard run. The rookie running back absorbed a hit, bounced off, spun to his left and out-sprinted everybody to the pylon. His first NFL touchdown was somewhat marred by the 15-yard taunting penalty called on him for waving the ball at two defenders as he crossed the goal line.

After fumbling the ensuing kickoff, the Cardinals fell further behind when Wells recorded his second score of the day. Rumbling in from the three yards out, Wells put the Texans up 21-10. The score capped a 9-play, 45-yard scoring drive.

Kris Brown closed out the record-setting quarter by kicking the first of his thee field goals on the day. His 27-yard attempt was set up by safety Glenn Earl’s interception of Arizona backup, Josh McKown.

The Texans continued the scoring orgy on the first drive of the second half. Following an ill-fated reverse to Andre Johnson and six straight passes by Carr, Brown booted his second field goal of the day from 41 yards away, giving Houston a 27-10 lead.

The Texans then went into typical “Play-Not-to-Lose” mode, sleepwalking their way through the rest of the third quarter and most of the fourth. Had they been playing anybody other than the lowly Cards and their third-string signal caller, the Texans might well be wondering how they snatched another defeat from the jaws of victory. Fortunately, Arizona could muster but a 42-yard Neil Rackers field goal and a John Navarre touchdown toss to Larry Fitzgerald before the Texans woke up.

The lead was 27-19 thanks to a muffed snap on the extra point following Fitzgerald’s touchdown. After pinning the Cardinals deep on their next possession, whipping boy Jason Babin forced a fumble which was recovered by Jason Simmons. After running some time off the clock, Brown put the game away, converting from 26 yards.

The Texans host the hated and playoff bound Jacksonville Jaguars next week at Reliant while the Cardinals limp home to host the Philadelphia Eagles.

What Went Right?

The Second Quarter The Texans set a team record for points in a quarter by racking up 24 in the second. Wells scored twice, rookie Vernand Morency rushed for another, and kicker Kris Brown added a field goal to complete the onslaught, staking the Texans to a 24-10 halftime lead.

The Pass Rush Of the three quarterbacks Houston faced on Sunday, only Josh McNown survived the heretofore non-existent Texans pass rush. Starter Kurt Warner was dropped four times before leaving with a knee injury. Third-stringer John Navarre was taken down twice. The Texans’ six sacks were for a total loss of 39 yards.

Run Defense Granted, the Cardinals have the worst running attack in the NFL, but the Texans DID hold Marcel Shipp and J.J. Arrington to a combined 39 yards on 13 carries; nearly 30 yards worse than their average.

What Went Wrong?

The Secondary Despite recording two interceptions, the Texans secondary was carved up for 301 yards through the air. Had Warner not been knocked out of the game early, the result might have been much different. As it was, third-stringer Navarre, completed 14 of 24 passes for 147 yards. Warner was a perfect 10 for 10 for 115 yards. Each threw for a touchdown.

David Carr Rumored to be calling his own plays for the first time, Carr turned in a promising first half, completing 16 of 20 passes for 93 yards. However, he came out flat in the second and ended up going 22 of 33 for 150 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He added a fumble for good measure.

The Push for Bush The Texans’ win, coupled with the Niners inability to hold a late lead against Jacksonville, leaves Houston and San Francisco with identical 2-12 records. If the season ended today, the Texans, by a thin margin, would still hold the number one pick overall based on strength of schedule.

Key Play Of The Game

Holding a slim 14 -10 lead following Morency’s touchdown, the Texans were, by virtue of a 15-yard taunting penalty, forced to kick from their own 15-yardline. Hauling in the kick at his own 20, Arizona return man (and former Texan) Reggie Swinton sprinted 25 yards before being hit by Moran Norris. Swinton fumbled, and Charlie Anderson fell on the ball at the Cards 45. Nine plays later, Wells blasted in from the 3 to give the Texans a commanding lead.

Week 14 Recap Jonathan Wells celebrates his second touchdown with Vernand Morency. Final Score Houston Texans 30 Arizona Cardinals 19 Lookin’ Good

Jonathan Wells
Standing in for the dinged up Domanick Davis, Wells carried the ball 28 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a catch for another 11 yards.

Oh, my eyes!

Dunta Robinson
The normally reliable Robinson did his best Phillip Buchanon impersonation getting badly beaten twice for touchdowns.

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