September 23, 2007
Snapped Back to Reality
by Mike Kerns
For the past week, the entire city of Houston has bled battle red while visions of 3-0 danced through their heads. Peyton Manning and the defending Super Bowl champs, meanwhile, likely had sugar plums and fairies dancing through their heads as they returned to Houston for the first time since being upset last Christmas Eve by the Texans.
Revenge proved sweet as Indianapolis beat the Texans, 30-24. The victory, Indy’s seventh in a row (in fact, they haven’t lost since Kris Brown’s game-winning Christmas gift), snapped Houston’s own modest four-game win streak.
The teams battled evenly for two quarters as the Colts built a 17-10 advantage. But as soon as Rocky Boiman intercepted Matt Schaub on the Texans’ first possession of the third quarter, reality started to creep in for the sold-out Reliant Stadium crowd hoping for continued perfection. If that didn’t officially end the dream of a 16-0 season, Joseph Addai’s second touchdown run of the game about two minutes later certainly did, putting the Colts ahead, 24-10. Hope briefly resurfaced after Jacoby Jones’ 74-yard punt return put Houston in scoring range moments later, but Schaub’s second interception of the quarter sealed Houston’s fate for good.
Unfortunately, the Texans lost a lot of players as well Sunday. Houston started the game without Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson and running back Ron Dayne, who scorched the Colts for 153 yards and two scores in the much-fabled Christmas Eve victory last year. It didn’t take long for them to have company on the sideline.
After his first offensive play, Ahman Green came up limping. He came back a couple of plays later, but was quickly helped back off the field after only a few possessions. From there, you kind of had the feeling that it was going to be one of those days. Especially during a very scary moment when defensive tackle Cedric Killings lie motionless on the field after a helmet-to-helmet collision covering a kick-off; a scene that seemed eerily similar to the hit on Buffalo’s Kevin Everett opening week. After Killings was carted off on a stretcher (the team later reported he had feeling in his extremities), the team seemed visibly shaken.
Peyton Manning, arguably the best quarterback in the league, seemed unfazed. With virtually no pressure by the Texans defense, Manning had everything his way as he carved up the Texans for 273 yards on 20 of 29 passing and a touchdown. Addai, a Sharpstown product, had a good day on the ground (72 yards) including a highlight reel touchdown in the second quarter in which he jumped over DeMarcus Faggins to get into the end zone.
All week, the Texans preached running the football and controlling the clock, but it never really happened as the the team amassed only 40 total yards on the ground. After Green exited, Samkon Gado and Jameel Cook tried to pick up the slack but they combined for a total of 27 yards and a touchdown by Gado. With nothing really going on the ground, Schaub tried to attack through the air. Until late into the fourth quarter, however, he never really got into a groove. But down 30-17, Schaub led a 14-play drive that covered 75 yards, capped by a 1-yard touchdown catch by Vonta Leach.
After pulling within 6 points with just under three minutes left to play, Houston elected to trust their defense and kick off as opposed to trying an onside kick. The defense forced a punt with about 30 seconds left to play but Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney hammered Schaub for a sack that ended the game.
Houston briefly held a 10-7 second quarter lead on the strength of Jerome Mathis’ 84-yard touchdown on the game’s opening kick-off. But from there, the Texans played catch up the rest of the day as Manning and the Colts quickly recaptured the lead on back-to-back touchdown drives.
But I don’t think this is a game that the team should hang their heads about. This was the defending champs. This was the best quarterback in the league. This is a team that’s 10-1 all-time against Houston. Despite turning the ball over twice with favorable field position, the Texans were still able to hang with the Colts. Granted, the game wasn’t quite as close as the final score indicated, but there were still many positive things to take away.
Most of the team’s stars (Green, Johnson, Jacoby Jones) were out of this game by the fourth quarter and the team responded well. Even with Schaub playing arguably his worst game as a Houston Texan, he still found a way to keep Houston in position for an improbable comeback.
At the start of the season, most fans would have been content with a 2-1 start and second place in the division. Also, the fact that the schedule is pretty favorable coming up should have many looking ahead to the next time Houston plays the Colts later in the year.
But before we get too far ahead, next week the big story is Schaub’s return to Atlanta. You know, that team that surely wishes they could go back and not trade him to Houston. Even if newly acquired Byron Leftwich (with whom Houston is very familiar) takes the reins in that game, Houston will surely be the favorite against the 0-3 Falcons. A 2-1 start is nice. But 3-1 would be better.
The Poise of Matt Schaub
Even though he was having a tough game, Matt Schaub kept his composure. He completed 27 of 33 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown. At one point, he even completed 17 in a row. The interceptions could have been avoided. One is on Jacoby Jones who flipped a nice pass off his helmet and into the air. The second was on Schaub, who seems to have at least one Brett Favre-like interception in him per game. Even after the team was down 30-17, you could see Schaub on the sideline trying to get everyone back into the game. Yes, some will argue he didn’t play well and it cost us, but he is a leader and his teammates believe in him.
Andre’ Davis got his opportunity after the game was out of hand and he made the most of it. He made a big catch (that should have been interference, regardless) for 41 yards late in the third quarter that got the crowd back into the game. He ended the day with 70 yards on 4 catches, almost assuring himself of more playing time. Could we see an "All Andre" duo soon?
Many Happy Returns It’s gotten to the point that you feel let down if Jacoby Jones or Jerome Mathis don’t take it to the house every time they return a kick. Defenders look like they’re moving in slow motion against them. Mathis took the opening kick in for a touchdown and JJ would have gotten one had the punter not caught him. Of course, to give an example of how the day went for Houston, Jones was hurt on the play.
Peyton vs. the Houston Secondary
Peyton Manning makes great secondaries look decent. He makes decent secondaries look bad. What does he do to bad secondaries? Just ask Houston. There’s a reason Manning doesn’t get sacked much. He gets rid of the ball quickly. Usually to much success. So what do you think he can do when virtually no pressure is applied to him? Again, just ask Houston. His only dilemma was which open man to throw to. He simply makes it look easy.
We’re The Guys In The Blue Jerseys!
Seemingly once every game, we wonder what Matt Schaub saw that we didn’t. In all three games now, he’s thrown an interception that left us scratching our heads. You have to play almost a mistake-free game to beat Indy. Houston fumbled three times (but never lost one) and got intercepted twice. Both interceptions led to Colts points. You have to hang onto the football if you want to beat the elite teams of the NFL.
The Injury Bug Bites
Was it just me or did we hear "And a Texan player is down on the field" at least fifteen times today? We’d already lost Andre Johnson and Ron Dayne before the kick-off. During the game, there were injuries to Steve McKinney, Charlie Anderson, Ahman Green, Jacoby Jones, and Cedric Killings. The scariest being Killings. After the way he went down, all I could think about was Kevin Everett. It was a scary few minutes that ended with Killings being taken off the field on a stretcher. It was later reported to be a neck injury, but that Cedric could feel his extremities. Let’s keep him in our thoughts and prayers. This team needs to get healthy, and fast if they want to stay in contention.
After an electrifying 74-yard punt return by Jacoby Jones put Houston on the Colts 20-yard line late in the 3rd quarter, Matt Schaub tossed his second interception of the quarter to Colts linebacker Gary Brackett. Indianapolis then turned the costly turnover into a 28-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal that gave the Colts a comfortable 27-10 third quarter lead, dashing any hopes of a comeback by the young upstart Texans.
Week 3 Jerome Mathis scoots into the end zone on the game’s opening kick. Final Score Houston Texans 24 Indianapolis Colts 30 Texans Leaders Matt Schaub
27/33, 236 yds, 1/2 Jameel Cook
5/15, 3.0 YPC, 0 TD Andre’ Davis
4/70, 17.5 YPC, 0 TD Colts Leaders Peyton Manning
20/29, 273 yds, 1/0 Joseph Addai
22/72, 3.3 YPC, 2 TD
4/84, 21.0 YPC, 0 TD
Special Special Teams
Jerome Mathis and Jacoby Jones looked like guys from a video game returning kicks. They combined for 319 yards and a touchdown in returns.
Oh, my eyes!
What Running Game?
The team rushed 17 times for a total of 40 yards the entire game. That includes Matt Schaub and Jacoby Jones scrambling for 8 of them. So much for the game plan…
2007 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.11 Chicago 19-20 08.18 at Arizona 33-20 08.25 Dallas 28-16 08.30 at Tampa Bay 24-31 Regular Season 09.09 Kansas City 20-3 09.16 at Carolina 34-21 09.23 Indianapolis 24-30 09.30 at Atlanta 16-26 10.07 Miami 22-19 10.14 at Jacksonville 17-37 10.21 Tennessee 36-38 10.28 at San Diego 11.04 at Oakland 11.11 BYE — 11.18 New Orleans 11.25 at Cleveland 12.02 at Tennessee 12.09 Tampa Bay 12.13 Denver 12.23 at Indianapolis 12.30 Jacksonville Overall Record 3-4