Fantastic Phin-ish!

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October 7, 2007
Fantastic Phin-ish!

by Mike Kerns

As Kris Brown, already with two long field goals on the day, lined up for a 57-yard game-winner in front of another sellout crowd at Reliant Stadium, Houston fans everywhere held their breath. In a dominating performance by the original Texan, his foot lifted the Texans to a 22-19 victory over the winless Miami Dolphins. Houston is 3-2 for the first time in team history.

Typical lately, Houston had to play from behind much of the game. After a 49-yard toss from Matt Schaub to WR Andre Davis set Houston up with a first and goal on the Miami two on the game’s opening series, the team struggled to get the ball into the end zone. After three straight Ron Dayne rushes left them with a fourth and goal on the Miami one, Gary Kubiak elected to try again. This time, Dayne was able to burst through, giving Houston an early 7-0 lead. By going for it, Kubiak sent a message to his offense that they have to be able to convert in these situations.

The rest of the first half was all Miami, though. They promptly answered with a Jay Feely field goal to cut the deficit to four, 7-3. One play in particular saw 37-year-old Dolphins QB Trent Green running with the ball for a gain of 23 yards that had to have Houston fans pulling out their hair. After the knock that Green took last year that pretty much ended his Kansas City career, it was surprising to see him run so aggressively. And effectively.

On the next possession, Schaub threw his usual once-a-game interception to Miami CB Andre Goodman, which he returned 18 yards. Taking over on the Houston 25, Miami’s next play was one of the oddest I’ve ever witnessed. Green fumbled the handoff to RB Ronnie Brown and WR Ted Ginn picked up the loose ball. But instead of just falling on it, Ginn ran backwards. Dunta Robinson viscously hit him, but Ginn managed to stay in play. As he cut back towards the middle of the field, he continued to backpedal as the Texan defense pursued him. Houston DE Anthony Weaver eventually brought down Ginn near midfield for a two-yard loss. After the play was over, though, Texans DL Travis Johnson was hit with a taunting penalty as he stood over a lifeless-looking Green.

In a scene that is becoming far too familiar in the NFL this year, Green laid motionless with an apparent neck injury. The replay showed that as Ginn reversed field, Green had placed a low block on Johnson, catching the full force of Johnson’s knee to the helmet. In review, you can see why Johnson was upset at Green. But to taunt a guy who, I don’t know, may be paralyzed, was completely classless. Gary Kubiak must have agreed, as Johnson wasn’t in on the next play.

After an emotional scene in which players knelt on the field in prayer for Green as he was carted off the field on a stretcher, backup QB Cleo Lemon entered the game. Imagine this: he had no problems looking comfortable against the Houston secondary and pass rush. Six plays later, Brown gave the Dolphins a 10-7 lead on a three-yard score with under a minute to play in the first quarter.

With a running game that again looked abysmal, Houston was unable to do any real damage on the offensive side of the ball. Two more Jay Feely field goals gave Miami a 16-7 lead with under three and a half left to play in the half. Could this really be happening a second consecutive week?

Not quite. Schaub came out firing in the next series since it appeared the running game was doing nothing but wasting possessions. After a Chester Pitts holding penalty negated a 30-yard completion to Andre Davis, Schaub kept firing towards “The Other Andre.” He and Davis connected on completions of 16 and 7 yards to put them in Kris Brown’s usual kicking range. However, on the next play, Jason Taylor exploded through Ephraim Salaam and devoured Schaub to knock the Texans out of field goal range. Or did he?

There probably wasn’t a person in the house that thought Brown would hit the 54-yard attempt just before the half. But he cleared it with a little extra to cut the deficit to 16-10 headed to the locker room with what appeared to be a not-too-happy Gary Kubiak. Whatever he said to the Houston defense he needs to start saying at the beginning of the game. While they didn’t look sharp, they held Miami to just three second half points.

An interception by SS C.C. Brown led to another long Brown field goal that crept Houston closer, 16-13. A great tackle by Amobi Okoye (who was named defensive rookie of the month, by the way) on Brown ended a potential Dolphins scoring drive.

Houston’s next drive stalled at around midfield and in what looked like an instant replay, Brown hit another 54-yard field goal to tie the game at 16 apiece. Again, he cleared it with plenty of room to spare.

With about thirteen minutes left in the game, Feely connected on a 48-yarder to regain the lead for the Dolphins, 19-16. This set the stage for Schaub to lead his first career fourth quarter comeback.

The next drive by Houston lasted fourteen plays and took 7:21 off the clock, while ending with another Brown score. This one was just a chip shot for him at just 20 yards out. The end result was a tie ball game with 5:25 left to play.

Miami countered by marching down field with relative ease, in a scene that Houston fans have seen time and time again. With 1:51 left on the clock, Feely lined up for a 56-yard field goal attempt. It turned out to be a hoax, as Cam Cameron called a timeout and ultimately elected to punt. Brandon Fields’ punt was downed at the Houston three by WR Greg Camarillo. Schaub and the Texans took over with 1:31 left in the game.

With the ball so close to their own end zone, Schaub handed off to RB Samkon Gado, who got nowhere. With that, the Houston crowd began to get a little restless. In another chapter added to the poor clock management saga by the Houston coaching staff, 39 seconds rolled off the clock before the next play snap. It appeared that Houston would hold the ball and play for overtime. This was, of course, met with a chorus of disapproving boos and jeers. Then Schaub connected with TE Owen Daniels over the middle for 19 yards. Looks like they’re going for the win after all, I thought to myself. This was when Schaub really showed what he’s made of. He connected on consecutive passes, first to Daniels for 14, then David Anderson for 19, and Kevin Walter for 7 before spiking the ball to stop the game with six seconds left to play. Did Brown have one more long kick left in his heavily-used right leg?

Sure enough – reminiscent of the opening day 2003 victory over Miami, Brown connected on a 57-yarder with only one second remaining . It was Brown’s eighth career game winning field goal. The real kicker of it all? He probably could have hit it from about 60.

While the game wasn’t expected to be this close, a win is a win. Schaub showed he has what it takes to win under pressure and Brown proved that he could be clutch again after a shaky few years. This is the kind of victory that can really bring a team together even more. When it appeared the defense was on their heels, they made the big stop. When it appeared that Gary Kubiak would play it conservative and try to get the overtime win, he had faith in his young QB and let him lead them to victory.

While the game ball definitely goes to Brown, Schaub continues to impress. Without star WR Andre Johnson and RB Ahman Green, he continues to be able to move the ball. This won’t be the last time he leads a fourth quarter comeback, methinks.

Next week is a big divisional game with the 3-1 Jacksonville Jaguars. While the Texans short history with the Jags has been successful, this is no team to take lightly. David Garrard is proving that he can fill the role of starting QB quite well and Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones Drew provide a great running combo. The defense needs to show up on time this game, as you don’t want to play catch-up against a good defensive team like Jacksonville. Houston also needs to not be looking ahead to Vince Young and the Titans in week seven.

What Went Right?

Houston Receivers
Matt Schaub found seven different players to spread the yardage to. Owen Daniels led all receivers with six catches for 96 yards. Kevin Walter added five grabs for 67 yards, and for the third straight game, Andre’ Davis showed up big for 79 yards on four catches. With Andre Johnson still out and Jacoby Jones trying to heal his ailing shoulder, the other guys have stepped up large. Daniels is becoming one of the top ends in the league and Kevin Walter is showing why Gary Kubiak loves him so much. But Davis should get a load of playing time when Johnson returns. The guy catches everything that’s thrown to him, short or long.

“Clutch” Kris Brown
Two years ago, during the “Reggie Bush Sweepstakes,” I wouldn’t have felt comfortable with this guy hitting a fifteen yarder. But today he showed that he can truly be relied on. While Houston fans are frustrated that the team can’t seem to get the ball in the end zone, they can now take comfort in knowing that even if it’s only three, you know Brown’s good for it. He also became just the third kicker in NFL history to hit three 50+ yard field goals in one game.

Mr. Fourth Quarter?
Matt Schaub continued his impressive play under pressure. While Gary Kubiak really wants this to be a running football team, he is learning that it can be a passing team, if need be. While he did throw his usual interception, today’s is on Jeb Putzier. If you can’t catch the ball, don’t deflect it into the air. While Schaub did have one play today that gave us some Carr flashbacks by holding onto the ball way too long and fumbling on another, he came through when he was truly needed. He was about as flawless as anyone could have asked in the fourth quarter. His completion percentage was lower than usual, but he ended the day with 294 yards on 20/34 passing. That’s not going to win you any MVP awards, but it will help you win games. Something Houston is still getting used to in a QB.

What Went Wrong?

Turnovers Lead to a Deficit
As they did against the Colts two weeks ago, turnovers led to points. Schaub fumbled and threw a pick that accounted for ten Miami points. This game may not have been so close if Houston holds onto the football.

Someone Punch It In There!
How aggravating is it that there seems to be an invisible force field around the end zone once Houston gets close to the goal? While I think this is something that will be remedied once a healthy Ahman Green returns to the backfield, it doesn’t make the frustration any easier to swallow right now. When your QB has to do a sneak play twice in one game to get the first down… that shows how much confidence you have in your running game. Dayne and Gado combined for 59 yards on 24 attempts. Not so good…

Is Ronnie Brown That Good?
Ronnie Brown is a hell of a talent. But is he that damned good? I can remember at least six or seven plays where he was hit at the line of scrimmage, yet ended up with at least seven to nine yards by play’s end. The tackling by the team today was almost college football-like. Miami converted on third downs 45% of their attempts. They were usually third and long as well. When your SS, C.C. Brown, leads the team in tackles… it’s not a good day for your defense.

Key Play Of The Game

With six seconds remaining in the game, Kris Brown drilled a 57-yard field goal to lead the Texans to a 3-2 season record, and improved the team to 3-0 all-time against Miami.

Week 5 Kris Brown celebrates his 57-yard game-winner. Final Score Houston Texans 22 Miami Dolphins 19 Texans Leaders Matt Schaub
20/34, 294 yds, 0/1 Ron Dayne
16/40, 2.5 YPC, 1 TD Owen Daniels
6/96, 16.0 YPC, 0 TD Dolphins Leaders Cleo Lemon
15/27, 151 yds, 0/1 Ronnie Brown
23/114 , 4.9 YPC, 1 TD

Marty Booker
5/45, 9.0 YPC, 0 TD

Lookin’ Good

Ain’t That a Kicker!?!
Kris Brown single-handedly kept Houston in the game by contributing 16 points.

Oh, my eyes!

That’s Bush League!
Travis Johnson’s taunting over the severely injured Trent Green was classless and completely uncalled for. Not to mention the hefty penalty it added.

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