September 20, 2004
Detroit: Rock Bottom City
by Keith Weiland
The Texans traveled to Motown looking to sing a new tune after a disappointing loss to the Chargers in their opener. Three turnovers, five sacks allowed, and a kickoff return for a touchdown later, and the Texans found themselves once again singing the same old tune.
Domanick Davis proved last week was no fluke, as he coughed up the football twice more on Sunday. The second of the two fumbles came on a third quarter drive starting inside Lion territory thanks to an Aaron Glenn interception. Unlike the Texans, however, the Lions would capitalize on their good fortune following the turnover, as Joey Harrington capped a 79-yard drive with a touchdown pass to put his team ahead 14-3.
David Carr, meeting his 2002 draft counterpart in Harrington for the first time, responded with a 54-yard bomb to Andre Johnson. Carr and Harrington both did not disappoint in the game, as they each posted triple-digit QB ratings for their efforts.
After a rocky start, Carr finished the game completing 23 of 34 passes for 313 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. The yardage was Carr’s second-highest total in his career.
The momentum the Texans gained from Carr’s first touchdown pass was short-lived though. Eddie Drummond returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for touchdown. Like the Davis fumble earlier in the quarter, Drummond’s return stretched the Lions’ lead back to eleven points.
Carr wasn’t finished, as he led his team on an 11-play 81-yard drive, ending when he found Corey Bradford beating a cover-2 safety for a 27-yard touchdown reception. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 21-16 in favor of the Lions with 12:20 to play in the fourth quarter.
The Lions responded with a back-breaking drive lasting more than seven minutes, resulting in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams. The Texans failed twice to force a fourth down in the drive, as Harrington converted both third-and-long opportunities with first down passes.
Down by two scores, the Texans’ final drive ended at the Lions’ 1-yard line as Carr was stopped short of the endzone with 36 seconds to play.
The Texans will travel next to Kansas City and face the Chiefs, another surprisingly winless team. Houston hopes to gain a measure of revenge at Arrowhead Stadium following last year’s 42-14 crushing at Reliant Stadium.
Statistics For the second week in a row, the Texans outperformed their opponent on the stat sheet. They outplayed the Lions by controlling the time of possession for nearly three minutes longer, gaining 120 more net yards, and netting six more first downs. Too bad the game is judged by a scoreboard or else this team might be 2-0.
Second Half Offensive Adjustments Last week, the Texans came out flat on offense in the second half. Not so this time, as the offense put together a pair of touchdown drives, taking advantage of what the Lions defense gave them. Carr completed 17 of 22 second half passes for 223 yards, and Domanick Davis, despite the fumble, amassed 106 yards of total offense. The Texans also converted four of their six third down conversions in the second half.
Babin’s First Sack It may not have been highlight reel material, but rookie Jason Babin notched his first career sack. The Lions employ a West Coast offense, making sacks a difficult task with all of the system’s short drops and quick passes. Babin, however, was able to pressure Harrington and grab him by the ankle for the sack. The Lions have been among the league’s best in not allowing sacks, so Babin’s career milestone is worth celebrating.
Bad Timing and Turnovers Each time the Texans had a chance to pick up and run with any momentum, something disastrous intervened. In the first half, Kailee Wong intercepted a pass from Joey Harrington, only to have the play nullified by a questionable roughing the passer penalty on Gary Walker. Aaron Glenn’s interception and return in the third quarter was negated on a fumble three plays later by Domanick Davis. Then when the Texans finally found Andre Johnson torching the Lion secondary for a 54-yard touchdown, Eddie Drummond then returned the ensuing kickoff for a momentum-killing score.
Offensive Gameplan The Lions’ secondary was missing star cornerback Dre’ Bly as well as Bly’s injury replacement, Andre Goodman. So that meant the Texans would challenge third-stringer Chris Cash all day, right? Wrong. Carr instead shied from the Lions’ deep cover-2 schemes to find his running back on dump-off and outlet passes eleven times during the game, failing to consistently connect with his wide receivers until the fourth quarter.
Forcing Fourth Downs The Texans put the Lions offense into thid-and-long situations when they needed to, but they were never able to seal the deal when it counted most. The defense allowed the Lions to convert 60% of their second half third downs, two of them coming on a game-icing drive late in the fourth quarter. Until this defense figures out a way to tighten up on third downs, the team is going to have to win games on turnovers, something they were unable to do on Sunday.
The key drive of the game came after Corey Bradford’s touchdown reception to make the score 21-16 early in the fourth quarter. The Lions then chewed up close to eight minutes of the clock on their next possession, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown reception by Roy Williams. The pair of third down conversions, plus Williams’ scoring catch, were all key in sinking the Texans, but it was their previous touchdown that really turned the game.
The Texans had just responded to Williams’ first touchdown reception by showing off their own version of the supersized, super-speedy wideout when Carr found Johnson deep for a 54-yard score to bring the Texans within four points. At 2:31 left in the third quarter, Kris Brown kicked off with the team finally feeling like things were starting to fall into place.
Eddie Drummond fielded Brown’s kickoff from the 1-yard line, split the wedge and found a seam in the Texans’ special teams coverage unit. By the time he reached midfield, the only person Drummond had to beat was Brown. Brown, perhaps (and understandably) a little gunshy after suffering a concussion making a tackle on a kickoff last week, took a bad angle, and Drummond scampered away for the score.
Deflated, the Texans trailed 21-10 at that point, as they were forced to play catch-up the rest of the game.
Week 2 Recap Eddie Drummond returns a kickoff for 99 yards and a touchdown. Final Score Houston Texans 16 Detroit Lions 28 Lookin’ Good
David Carr’s second half performance, in which he matched Joey Harrington throw for throw, score for score, was impressive. And he was one bad call away (on AJ’s non-catch near the goalline when he forced out of bounds) from making it closer. But it leaves us wondering where it was in the first half? Carr’s shown enough flashes that he should be given more to do, sooner. So why isn’t he?
Oh, my eyes!
Did Domanick Davis make a pledge to rush for 2,000 yards this year, or fumble 2,000 times? Hard to remember at this point. We can bitch up a storm about the coaching, playcalling, etc., but you can’t turn the ball over, especially inside the opponents’ 30.
2004 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.14 Dallas 18-0 08.21 at Pittsburgh 3-38 08.27 at Denver 17-31 09.02 Tampa Bay 9-17 Regular Season 09.12 San Diego 20-27 09.19 at Detroit 16-28 09.26 at Kansas City 24-21 10.03 Oakland 30-17 10.10 Minnesota 28-34 10.17 at Tennessee 20-10 10.24 Bye 10.31 Jacksonville 20-6 11.07 at Denver 13-31 11.14 at Indianapolis 14-49 11.21 Green Bay 13-16 11.28 Tennessee 31-21 12.05 at New York Jets 7-29 12.12 Indianapolis 14-23 12.19 at Chicago 24-5 12.26 at Jacksonville 21-0 01.02 Cleveland 14-22 Overall Record 7-9