Big Trouble in Little d

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October 16, 2006
Big Trouble in Little d

by Ric Sweeney

The Texans officially rendered “19-10” just another great stat for NBA power forwards Sunday after losing to the hated Cowboys, 34-6. Since shocking Dallas in their inaugural regular season game four years ago, the Texans are 18-50, including 1-4 this season, and have lost the right to hold that magical 19-10 victory over the heads of the single most reprehensibly ignorant fans in all of football.

Thanks; appreciate it.

After a competitive first half that saw the Texans take a precarious 6-3 lead into the locker room, the team reverted to form with a predictably flaccid second half showing. Houston generated 43 yards of offense in the third quarter and David Carr threw interceptions on consecutive series as the Cowboys built a 17-6 lead. The Texans have now been outscored 41-0 in five third quarters this year.

If only they could play just first quarters. Carr and company opened the game with an impressive 61-yard drive on 13 plays before stalling at the Dallas 1. Three Cowboy penalties (including one of the opening kickoff) handed Houston 35 yards while Carr did the rest, completing 4 of 5 passes. His lone incompletion, however, came on a well-read playaction that Dallas successfully snuffed out, leading to a Kris Brown 19-yard field that gave the Texans an early 3-0 lead. It marked the third time in five games the Texans have turned their opening drive into points.

Things momentarily got even better.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jason Babin recovered an apparent Cowboy fumble, setting the Texans up at the Dallas 29 as silence fell upon the Texas Stadium crowd of bandwagon-hopping nitwits still reeling from the Yankees’ elimination from the baseball playoffs days earlier. But replays negated the turnover.

The teams then exchanged punts the rest of the quarter as neither could generate much offense. The Texans’ running game stalled, picking up just 26 yards on 12 carries, 15 of which came on Carr scrambles, while Drew Bledsoe played like Quincy Carter through the same 15 minutes, taking a sack, missing on third and fourth down plays, and hanging a zero on the scoreboard.

But on the second drive of the second quarter, Bledsoe converted two third downs, Julius Jones got into the flow with two 8-yard gains and the Cowboys tied the score with 7:33 remaining in the half, 3-3. More punts would follow, the most significant of which occurred with a 1:00 left in the half.

Phillip Buchanon returned that punt 45 yards to the Dallas 40 and nearly ran it in for the score but stumbled after punter Mat McBriar got a small piece of him. Unfortunately, the Texans’ offense continued to sputter. Ron Dayne was unable to convert a 3rd-and-1 at the Cowboys’ 31 and the team settled for a 48-yard field goal from Brown with :04 remaining in the half, giving the Texans their 6-3 halftime lead.

After intermission, the Cowboys would unfortunately piece together two vitally important pieces on Intel: 1) Bledsoe sucks; 2) Julius Jones doesn’t. After rushing for just 29 yards in the first half, Jones would turn it on for 77 in the final 30 minutes, including a 33-yarder on the second play of the half that put Dallas at the Texan 31, leading to a Bledsoe TD toss to Terrell Owens and the Cowboys’ first lead, 10-6.

A third quarter interception from Carr would ignite a disastrous 4:51 stretch in which the Texans turned the ball over three times and saw a manageable 4-point deficit turn into the football equivalent of an abortion.

Carr’s first pick set Dallas up at the Houston 23; three plays later, Bledsoe found Owens again for a 17-6 lead. Carr’s next interception :50 later led to a 1-yard TD run by Marion Barber on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, after Barber’s score, Edell Sheppard fumbled the ensuing kickoff which Roy Williams recovered at the Texan 31. Peyton Manning’s ex lover, Mike Vandejagt, nailed a 21-yard field goal to increase the Cowboy lead to 27-6 and the floodgates had officially closed for the day.

Some scrub named Tony Romo would throw a late touchdown to Owens, wetting the lower regions of ESPN producers and making the final score 34-6.

Dayne and Samkon Gado would finish with a combined 19 rushing yards on 14 carries for an abysmal 1.35 average per carry, including 8 carries that netted either zero or negative gains. Meanwhile, Carr had, far and away, his worst game of the year, completing 15 of 27 passes for just 128 yards, no touchdowns and the 2 interceptions. Defensively, tackle Seth Payne was lost for the year when he blew an ACL and cornerback Dunta Robinson, who was continually picked on despite the presence of Lewis Sanders on Terrell Owens, missed time.

What Went Right?

The Opening Drive The Texans looked poised and confident, marching 61 yards in 13 plays before having to settle for a field goal. Carr completed his first 4 passes for 41 yards. Why do things consistently go wrong afterwards?

Phillip Buchanon’s Punt Return He very nearly blew the game open just before halftime with a 45-yard punt return that gave the Texans the ball at the Cowboys’ 40-yard line with :47 left in the half. Had he broken to his right a second earlier, he likely would have never been touched by punter Mat McBriar, who got just enough of Buchanon to trip him up and save the touchdown. Of course, Buchanon was cut the day after the game.

The First Half D Part of the blame (well, ok MOST of the blame) rests with the Cowboys themselves – Bledsoe threw 17 first half passes as the Cowboys scored 3 points. He threw only 11 after intermission… and Dallas scored 31 points. Not a coincidence. Still, the Texans were aggressive (two sacks) and held the Cowboys in check, allowing only three points and 114 total yards.

What Went Wrong?

The Running Game Holes were non-existent; backs ran into their linemen and the team finished with 34 rushing yards, 15 of which came on two Carr scrambles.

Tuck Tail, Proceed to Finish Line For the 1,378th time in franchise history, the Texans picked up their picnic blanket and headed home at the first sign of dark clouds. The team imploded after the Cowboys jammed the opening drive down their throats even though it only made the score 10-6. Three successive turnovers led to 17 unanswered points as a manageable 4-point deficit swelled to 21 in the span of about 5 minutes.

Gary Kubiak Hey, coach, reality is sending you an E-vite to join the rest of us. Your team sucks. So why in H-E-double hockey sticks would you:

a) kick a field goal on 4th-and-1 on the opening drive of the game;
b) punt on 4th-and-2 at the Dallas 42 with 2:35 left in the first half;
c) not make at least ONE attempt in the general vicinity of the end zone after Buchanon’s punt return;

Please, for the love of God, stop acting like key parts of the female anatomy. If we wanted ultra-conservative, face-saving calls that deflate the fans and make you look like Tony Romo only with an H instead of an R, we would have just kept Dom Capers.

Key Play Of The Game

With 5:04 left in the third quarter, Zach Wiegert was called for holding, handing Carr a 2nd-and-18. For some reason, this seemed to be the turning point. Carr’s next pass was picked off, beginning a 5-play stretch in which the team would turn the ball over three times, turning a 10-6 game into a rout.

Game 5 Recap T.O. loves some T.O. after scoring one of his three touchdowns. Final Score Houston Texans 6 Dallas Cowboys 34 Lookin’ Good

To the Texan fans in attendance Sunday wearing shirts that read, “If the Cowboys Are ‘America’s Team,’ Consider Me Canadian.” Nice.

Oh, my eyes!

The run blocking is shocking in how awful it is. Granted, neither Dayne or Gado would likely be doing much regardless, but they’re currently not even getting slivers of daylight. What a mess.

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