New (York) State of Mind?

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November 6, 2006
New (York) State of Mind?

by Ric Sweeney

The Texans did a lot of things right Sunday in New York… except, you know, score more points than the Giants, eventually losing 14-10 to the NFC East leaders. The loss dropped Houston to 2-6 on the year.

David Carr, the focus of much attention this week after being introduced to the team’s bench last Sunday, played well, completing 21 of 30 passes for 176 yards. He did not throw a touchdown pass, but did scramble for one and, perhaps more importantly, did not commit a turnover all day, a big improvement on his three-turnover afternoon in Tennessee.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Jameel Cook. Trailing by four with 5:23 remaining in the game, the team’s fullback took a short pass from Carr at the Giants’ 38 and, after getting hit, coughed up the football, squelching any upset hopes the Texans may have been entertaining. Cook’s gaffe was an appropriate bookend to the opening drive of the game in which his backfield mate, Wali Lundy, dropped a third down pass that would have gone for first down yardage at the Giant 24, stalling what had been a terrific opening drive. Wearing a glove on his non-throwing hand, Carr completed his first three passes of the game for 44 yards and converted a 3rd and 3 on a designed sweep.
Unfortunately, Lundy’s drop proved costly as Kris Brown missed a 42-yard field goal as the team failed to capitalize on their early success.

The Giants moved 68 yards in 7 plays after Brown’s miss, highlighted by Tiki Barber’s nifty 16-yard touchdown gallop; remarkably, his first touchdown of the 2006 season.

The teams then exchanged several punts until Carr again led the Texans downfield on their first possession of the second quarter. Three Carr passes converted third downs as he hit on 7 of 10 passes for 60 yards. His fourth third down pass of the drive, however, fell incomplete and Brown nailed a 41-yarder to close the gap, 7-3.

It would stay that way until very nearly the fourth quarter. In the meantime, the Texan defense began to assert itself, with Glenn Earl setting the tone and Mario Williams picking it up.

With 4:40 left in the half and New York at the Texan 25, Peyton Manning’s slightly less retarded brother, Eli, found tight end Jeremy Shockey at the goal line for an apparent touchdown but Earl blasted Shockey and jarred the ball loose. Replay upheld the incompletion and that led to a dizzying trio of plays by Williams.

With the Giants perched at the Texan 19, Williams blew apart Bob Whitfield and ferociously drove Eli to the ground for a 6-yard loss. On the next play, Mario broke through again, this time from the tackle spot, freeing up space for a blitzing Demeco Ryans, who hauled Manning down for a 10-yard loss. On 3rd and 31, Williams again got to Manning, hitting the quarterback right as he was attempting to throw a pass, causing an incompletion. The succession of plays knocked New York out of field goal range and kept the score 7-3 at the half. Notably, on the Giants’ next series, Earl intercepted Manning on the final play of the half, recording the team’s first interception since week one.

Roughing the passer penalties would bite both teams in the third quarter. On the Giants’ opening drive of the second half, Williams flushed Manning from the pocket and was hit with a ridiculously ticky-tacky roughing the passer call on a third down incompletion, sustaining a drive that eventually made its way into Texan territory. But Houston’s defense stiffened and forced a field goal that New York botched, keeping the score, 7-3.

The Texans responded as Carr led his team to a touchdown in the third quarter for the first time all season. Completing 7 of 9 passes for 55 yards on the drive, Carr steered Houston 80 yards in 18 plays – that’s right 18 plays – but still needed a Giant miscue to capitalize. Faced with a 3rd and 10 from New York’s 12, Carr hit Andre Johnson (9 catches 83 yards) for 7 yards, but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Texans an automatic first down. Two plays later, Carr scrambled from the two, absorbed roughly 17 hits and dove into the end zone for a thrilling score, pushing Houston ahead, 10-7 with 1:26 left in the quarter.

The Texans then had a chance to ice the game and the same ol’, same ol’s reared their ugly heads. After the defense held the Giants to a three-and-out, Houston took over at New York’s 49. But a holding call on Zach Wiegert, the team’s lone sack of the day and a one-yard loss from Lundy left the Texans with a 4th and 26. On the ensuing drive, of course, New York would seize momentum and put the game away. Led by Barber’s 20 yards and 13-yard catch, the Giants moved 67 yards in 11 plays, culminating with a Manning to Shockey touchdown toss, putting New York up to stay, 14-10, with 8:01 remaining.

Another roughing the passer penalty on New York set Houston up at the 46; Lundy, who finished with just 43 yards on 20 carries, then ran three times 15 yards before Cook’s fumble ended the rally.

Next week, the 2-6 Texans travel to Jacksonville to face the 5-3, and likely still upset, Jaguars. What Went Right?

David Carr’s Rebound
Say what you want about Carr, but he certainly didn’t shrink from the challenge. In New York, against one of the best teams in the NFC, Carr was efficient and safe. Consider, he drove Houston into Giant territory on five of their seven possessions, only to watch the team: miss a field goal, cowardly punt from the Giants’ 38, kick a field goal, score a touchdown and fumble.

The Rookies
Williams and Ryans had back-to-back sacks for a loss of 16 yards, knocking New York out of field goal range as the first half closed. Together, they recorded 10 tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss and two hurries. They were a disruptive pair all afternoon.

Glenn Earl’s Hit on Shockey
Shockey had a sure touchdown until Earl unloaded an absolute strike, dislodging the ball and saving 6 points. Very quietly, the Texans’ defense has been pretty frisky since that second half meltdown in Dallas. What Went Wrong?

Freezing Up
The Texans had a chance to put the game on ice as the fourth quarter started. But after the defense stuffed New York on three consecutive downs, the offense squandered the opportunity with, on consecutive plays, a penalty, a sack and a run that went for negative yardage. Up 10-7, they punted to New York and the Giants promptly marched down the field and scored. They still lack a killer instinct, maybe because…

Gary Kubiak Has No Balls
By and large, Kubiak’s been a Godsend this year. But why, on 2-5 team going nowhere, are you not pushing these guys? He punted from the Giant 38 on 4th and 7, and then was content to let the clock run out at the end of the first half (notice, the Giants were not) with 1:46 remaining. Obviously, things unraveled last week at the end of the first half, but by sitting on it this week, aren’t you essentially instilling in your team the notion that you don’t trust it and certainly don’t think it’s capable of making amends and pushing it downfield? Key Play Of The Game

Pretty easy, really. Trailing 14-10 with 5:23 reaming in the game, the Texans had moved to the Giants’ 38 (thanks to a roughing the passer penalty) when Jameel Cook took a short pass underneath and coughed up the football. Game over.

Game 8 Recap Dunta Robinson congratulates Mario Williams on his sack in the second quarter. Final Score Houston Texans 10 NY Giants 14 Lookin’ Good

First Overalls
Carr and Williams both asserted themselves well on a hostile stage. Carr rebounded from an awful week with solid play while Williams went Reggie White in the second quarter.

Oh, my eyes!

Air Ball
But guys, the jump shot crap was embarrassing. You’ve won, like, 1 game since 2002; show some humility. Acting like a bunch of petulant, immature children should be the exclusive domain of, well, the douche bags who came up with the jump shot thingy majobber in the first place. Sorry, to go Peter King all over you, but, seriously…

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