Flipper Filets

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October 1, 2006
Flipper Filets

by Keith Weiland

With a three-game losing streak to open a head coaching career, who could blame Gary Kubiak if even he had trouble watching the Texans? Well, turn around Kubes, as your team finally put one in your win column, defeating the Dolphins 17-15.

It was the game’s crucial play, a two-point conversion attempt by the Dolphins late in the fourth quarter, that Kubiak couldn’t bear to watch. When quarterback Daunte Culpepper gave the football to running back Ronnie Brown – in a pre-meditated halfback pass play no less – it turned out Dolphin fans were the ones that should have been looking away.

Seeing Brown drift backward, defensive end Mario Williams dropped back into coverage and shot a hand in the air to deflect the pass attempt and preserve the game’s precious two-point lead. The Dolphins then attempted an onsides kick to regain possession, but the football rolled harmlessly out of bounds, allowing the Texans to run out the clock for the win.

Despite Williams’ pass coverage to protect the lead, it is likely to be overshadowed by his pass rushing. On successive plays early in the fourth quarter, Williams sacked Culpepper, the second of which he shared with fellow rookie DeMeco Ryans.

The Dolphins pulled within two points just under two minutes to play when wide receiver Chris Chambers plain ol’ beat cornerback Dunta Robinson for a 16-yard touchdown catch. Robinson, who had six tackles in the game, limped off the field following the failed two-point attempt.

The Texans built their 10-6 fourth quarter lead on the strength of the aerial connection between David Carr and Andre Johnson. Carr found Johnson twice on drive, including a 30-yard completion on a third-and-6 to move the offense down to the Dolphin 7-yard line. Three plays later, Carr then tossed to Johnson again for the 3-yard touchdown and a commanding 17-6 lead.

For the game, Johnson made nine catches for 101 yards, marking his third time with more than 100 receiving yards already this season, one shy of his season-high. Carr continued to have a statistically hot hand, completing 22 of 29 passes for 230 yards.

While Sunday’s win may have boasted another pair of impressive performances from Carr and Johnson, it was the defense that made the difference in the victory. Pressuring Culpepper all afternoon, the defense allowed a season-low 289 yards, sacking the Dolphins quarterback five times.

The win carries the Texans into their bye week with a 1-3 record and a chance to rest their bumps and bruises before an intra-state road trip to Dallas and a chance to keep alive their one-game winning streak over the Cowboys.

What Went Right?

Mario Didn’t Disappoint The Miami offensive line might be the only one in the league with more problems than the Texans, but for Williams, getting his first career sack (and a half) on his resume was quite a weight lifted from his hefty shoulders. His fourth quarter play fired up a home crowd anxious to see him finally perform, and his pass deflection on Miami’s two-point attempt helped ensure his team won the game.

Johnson and Moulds Forget for a moment the "interception" in which Andre Johnson lost a battle for the football with Dolphins corner Will Allen. Instead, remember that the Texans offense goes through Johnson first and Eric Moulds second, as the pair combined for 13 receptions, 177 yards and a touchdown. Both made critical catches on the team’s two scoring drives, and Johnson in particular is already booking a first class aisle seat to Honolulu with his third 100-yard game through four games this season.

Salaam’s Guts Left tackle Ephraim Salaam already knew he shouldn’t be playing right now; rookie Charles Spencer was having himself a nice start to the season before he was felled by a broken leg. So when Salaam limped off the field with his own leg injury at the start of the third quarter, he knew his team really needed him out on the field. Brad Bedell confirmed it for him when the reserve allowed Jason Taylor to get to Carr, strip the ball, and recover the fumble. Salaam then limped back onto the field, his team down 6-3, and helped the Texans push for two consecutive touchdown drives.

What Went Wrong?

Running on Fumes The Texans have yet to put together a solid ground game effort regardless of whomever carries the football. Ron Dayne did most of the work against the Dolphins, pushing the pile forward at times, but a 2.6-yard average on 22 carries still defines mediocre. Sadly, the newly acquired Samkon Gado didn’t provide much assistance, gaining just 9 yards on his 6 carries.

Kubiak’s Decisions Credit to rookie head coach Gary Kubiak on notching his first career victory, but his playcalling at the end of the first half won’t win him many more. With two minutes to play, his offense had a chance to take a halftime lead. Kubiak instead chose to run three straight times, giving Miami the football with time still left on the clock. Also, choosing to sub Brad Bedell at left tackle over Chester Pitts was a questionable move, especially after Bedell let Jason Taylor past him for a sack and a fumble. Pitts kept Taylor at bay from the left tackle position in the Texans’ last victory over the Dolphins in 2003.

Dunta’s Coverage Robinson is easily the most talented defensive back on the roster, but he had a tough afternoon against the Dolphins. Capable of shutdown coverage and game-changing plays, Robinson played soft most of the afternoon, ultimately allowing Chris Chambers to easily bump him off his coverage for what might have proven to be a game-tying touchdown. Robinson will need to rebound quickly as he will likely be staring down a certain attention-needy Cowboys receiver in two weeks.

Key Play Of The Game

Following a 16-yard touchdown reception in which Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers muscled past cornerback Dunta Robinson, Miami needed a two-point conversion to tie the game at 17 points apiece. For a Texans team desperate for its first win of the season, even head coach Gary Kubiak couldn’t bear to watch, television cameras catching him walk away from the action as the play unfolded.

Taking a page out of an old Chris Palmer wack-a-doo playcall, quarterback Daunte Culpepper took the snap, handed off to Ronnie Brown… who spun 180 degrees, fading back to pass. Brown found Chambers and Marty Booker near the back of the endzone and threw for one of them.

As Booker slipped on the play, a lone hand from a Texans defender rose from the goalline. It belonged to defensive end Mario Williams, as in "First Overall Pick Mario Williams," a play Kubiak will remember forever, even if he never did see it.

Game 4 Recap Mario Williams notches his first career sack, dropping Daunte Culpepper. Final Score Houston Texans 17 Miami Dolphins 15 Lookin’ Good

Mario Williams
His sack-and-a-half ignited a home crowd eager to cheer, but his tipped pass on the game’s pivotal two-point conversion attempt was the difference in the final score.

Oh, my eyes!

Kevin Walter
Part of the "hands" team to field onsides kickoffs, Walter fielded the last gasp kick by Dolphins kicker Olindo Mare in his facemask. Lucky for Walter, the football bounced out of bounds and the Texans ran out the clock for the win.

2006 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.12 Kansas City 24-14 08.19 St. Louis 27-20 08.27 at Denver 14-17 08.31 Tampa Bay 16-13 Regular Season 09.10 Philadelphia 10-24 09.17 at Indianapolis 24-43 09.24 Washington 15-31 10.01 Miami 17-15 10.08 Bye 10.15 at Dallas 6-34 10.22 Jacksonville 27-7 10.29 at Tennessee 22-28 11.05 at NY Giants 10-14 11.12 at Jacksonville 13-10 11.19 Buffalo 21-24 11.26 at NY Jets 11-26 12.03 at Oakland 23-14 12.10 Tennessee 20-26 12.17 at New England 7-40 12.24 Indianapolis 27-24 12.31 Cleveland 14-6   Overall Record 6-10