Eight is Enough

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October 21, 2007
Eight is Enough

by Ric Sweeney

Look on the bright side: At least Vince Young had nothing to do with it…

For an all-too-brief moment Sunday, the Houston Texans held the entire National Football League in its collective grasp. After a scrambling Sage Rosenfels found Andre’ Davis between two Titan defenders with 1:06 remaining for a 53-yard touchdown strike, it looked like the Texans were going to do the impossible and complete a fourth quarter comeback unlike any other in league history.

But Kerry Collins, playing for the injured Young, rallied the Titans, setting up Rod Bironas’ game-winning, and record-tying, eighth field goal as Tennessee stunned the Texans, 38-36.

The Titans built a 32-7 lead through the game’s first three quarters, and while the game was every bit the blowout the score suggests — it actually could have, and likely should have been much worse.

The Texans turned the ball over six times as seven — 7! — Tennessee possessions began in Houston territory, and an 8th started on the Titan 49. But the defense, led by Demeco Ryans, held firm and forced Collins and the Titan offense to settle for field goals all day. Unfortunately, Bironas hit seven, tying a league record. Altogether, six of Bironas’ field goals, including the 29-yard game-winner, were from 30 yards or closer. Collins, despite 280 yards passing, did not throw a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Houston’s offense was stuck in waist-deep mud. Matt Schaub, relentlessly rushed and eventually knocked from the game, could only lead the team to 34 offensive yards in the game’s first two quarters as the only offense was provided by Ryans, who sacked Collins, forced a fumble, and picked it up for a 26-yard score that gave the Texans an early 7-3 lead.

Rosenfels initially fared no better replacing Schaub, as he turned the ball over twice in his first four plays from scrimmage. But he and the team kept after it, eventually pushing in a score to begin the fourth quarter when Rosenfels hit David Anderson from 7 yards out. The successful two-point conversion cut the deficit to 17, 32-15 as it looked like the Texans might try to makethe final score at least look respectable.

After the defense forced a punt, which the Titans downed at the Texan 2, Rosenfels came out firing, hitting Davis for a 53-yard gain. But Houston was called for an illegal formation, wiping out the play. But back they came. Rosenfels to Kevin Walter twice for 63 yards and then, after an 15-yard rumble from Ahman Green, two more strikes to Walter, the second a 6-yard touchdown to make it 32-22.

Hope began to make its way to the surface after the defense forced another punt, but it was quickly squashed when Anderson muffed the ensuing return as Tennessee took over at the Texan 33. But the defense stepped up and forced another punt, and again, the silly notion of the game not being over weaseled its way to the forethought. That’s when Rosenfels seemingly stuck a final nail in the Texan coffin by throwing his third interception of the day, leading to a Titan field goal that increased Tennessee’s lead to 13, 35-22.

Nope; the Texans were far from dead. Rosenfels converted a 3rd-and-10 and a 4th-and-5 before finding Jeb Putzier from 7 yards outs to bring Houston within legitimate striking distance, 35-29.

Incredibly, Houston suffered a seemingly third insurmountable setback when an initially successful onside kick was wiped out by an offsides. But Houston’s second try bounced off a Titan defender and into Zach Diles arms as the offense returned to the field at their own 34. Rosenfels picked up where he left off, hitting Davis for what looked to be the finishing touches on the NFL’s largest fourth quarter comeback.

But Bironas and the Titans would not be denied.

What Went Right?

The D Never Broke An anemic, error-prone offense left the defense up against its own goal line all day. But they stood their ground, scoring a touchdown of their own and holding Tennessee to field goals. Weird to praise the defense on a day when they give up 38 points, but trust us – it very easily could have been 138 points.

That Fleeting Moment Never mind the first three quarters; forget the final score – savor that brief moment when you were on the phone with your buddies, coming up with new ways to work the F-word into the phrase, "I can’t believe it!" As bad as EVERYTHING else was, the comeback was un-f’ing believable.

The Sage Back-up Take it for what it’s worth: Since 2006, Sage Rosenfels has thrown 8 touchdowns in six games; every other Texan QB over the same time period (incorporating 23 games)? 16. Just sayin’…

What Went Wrong?

Maybe "In Search Of…" Is On… Almost every single second of the first three quarters represented the apex of awful Texan football. Weren’t all these problems – no running game, piss-poor pass protection, no offensive playmakers – supposed to follow the Gloved One to Carolina?

Mea Culpa It’s admirable that Gary Kubiak stands up for his players, deflects blame from them while emphatically taken the responsibility for such horrible play… except you watch the tam play and realize he’s not sticking up for his players; he’s just being honest. This team was inexplicably not ready to play a huge, important division game. Unfathomable. The Kubiak Hire is dangerously close to being fair game — this team is too often unprepared.

Kerry Collins Just Wins Kerry Collins? Really?… REALLY?

Key Play Of The Game

On 3rd-and-10 from their own 37 with :39 left and dozens of fans making noise, Kerry Collins threw very nearly a perfect pass to Roydell Williams, who hauled in the 46-yard strike to set-up Bironas’ gamewinner.

Week 7 Rod Bironas’ kicks the Texans in the balls. Final Score Houston Texans 36 Tennessee Titans 38 Texans Leaders Sage Rosenfels
22/35, 290 yds, 4/3 Ahman Green
11/39, 3.5 YPC, 0 TD Kevin Walter
6/97, 16.2 YPC, 1 TD Titans Leaders Kerry Collins
25/42, 280 yds, 0/0 LenDale White
27/104, 3.9 YPC, 1 TD

Roydell Williams
5/124, 24.8 YPC, 0 TD

Lookin’ Good

The Final 15
That was perhaps the most frantically unbelievable quarter of football in NFL history. The Texans hung 28 despite being -2 in turnover differential and having a 53-yard pass AND a successful onside kick wiped out by penalties.

Oh, my eyes!

Dunta Robinson
OK, here’s the deal — yes, the pass was terrific, as was the catch… but elite cornerbacks break that pass up, don’t they? Well, they should. It was Kerry Collins and Roydell Williams, fer frack’s sake.

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