K.C. Masterpiece

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September 26 , 2004
K.C. Masterpiece

by Ric Sweeney

Trailing late, the Texans scored 10 unanswered points to shock Kansas City and their raucous home crowd Sunday, 24-21.

Kris Brown nailed a 49-yard field goal with :02 remaining to give Houston it’s first win of the 2004 season. His game-winner was one of many clutch plays down the stretch for the Texans.

After the Chiefs took a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, Houston responded, tying the score and then putting the clamps on Kansas City’s offense. The game-tying drive featured two gigantic conversions, the first from Houston’s own 41-yard line.

With 9:15 remaining, the Texans faked a punt on 4th-and-1 as Jason Simmons lunged forward after lining up under center. A fumble and a sack later, David Carr and the offense faced third-and-17. Harassed all day by a relentless rush, Carr found a crease in the KC zone and hit Derrick Armstrong for 20 yards. Carr then went up top to Andre Johnson, who made a spectacular juggling catch at the Chiefs’ 8-yard line. The grab covered 37 yards. After a run play was stuffed for a loss, Carr hit Jabar Gaffney from 9 yards out to tie the score at 21 with 5:24 remaining.

Just when it looked like Kansas City might answer the Texans, especially after converting their own 3rd-and-17 (made appreciably more frustrating when Trent Green managed to squeeze out of Antwaan Peek’s grasp, avoiding the sack and finding Tony Gonzalez for 20 yards), the Houston D stuffed Priest Holmes for a loss and then sacked Green on second down. The Chiefs failed to convert and were forced to punt.

Back on the field, Carr converted another third down at his own 30 before hitting Armstrong again on a slant route covering 35 yards, setting up Brown’s field goal.

The Texans’ superb play in the second half was in direct opposition to their lethargic play through the first two quarters.

Fortunately, Kansas City failed to take advantage. The Chiefs took an early lead on their first drive of the game after intercepting Carr in the end zone. Green rode Holmes upfield before finding Gonzalez for the game’s first score with 5:41 left in the first quarter.

After the teams exchanged punts, Houston got on the board. Starting at their own 2, Carr worked Houston out of danger with 32 yards worth of receptions to Domanick Davis and Johnson before going up top to Johnson on a 46-yard bomb that the former Hurricane caught between two defenders. Playing it safe, Houston settled for a 28-yeard field goal from Brown, cutting into KC’s lead, 7-3.

The Chiefs then made their first big mistake of many. After Holmes darted 12 yards to the Texans’ 14, KC’s offense stalled. Faced with a 4th-and-2 at the 6, they elected to go for it and Holmes was hit for a loss. Houston converted the turnover on downs into points as two forgotten Texans stepped up.

Jonathan Wells, subbing for the injured (and ineffective) Domanick Davis, rushed twice for 21 yards before Carr hit Billy Miller on three consecutive passes totaling 39 yards. Those three catches were Miller’s first of the year. Brown ended the drive, hitting a 49-yarder with :10 left in the half to pull Houston within a point, 7-6.

After increasing their lead to 14-6 on the opening drive of the second half, the Chiefs had a chance to put the game away. Green hit on five consecutive passes to move to the Houston 1, but Holmes was denied on first-and-goal and Green’s subsequent pass was intercepted and returned 102 yards by Marcus Coleman, the longest interception return in franchise history. Wells’ flag-diving sweep on the two point conversion tied the score at 14, paving the way for Carr and Brown’s late game heroics.

What Went Right?

Big D in KC The Texans’ defense bent, but it never broke. Priest Holmes went off for 128 yards, but when he needed two on fourth down at the Houston six, he was denied. Later, from the Texans’ 1, Holmes was denied again. On the next play, Marcus Coleman picked Green off and scored on the 102-yard return. Finally, with the score tied at 21, Houston flustered Green just enough to force a punt and give the offense a chance. The stats will say they were outplayed. The scoreboard will not.

Derrick Armstrong The CFL refugee made two gigantic catches, hauling in David Carr’s game-saving 3rd-and-17 conversion and then setting up the game-winning field goal with a 35-yard catch-and-run. Displaying solid hands and breakaway speed, Armstrong gives Carr another target.

The Wells is Not Dry Wells, spelling the injured Domanick Davis, did nothing spectacular – 10 carries for 37 yards; 1 catch for 10 yards – but he kept the game-winning drive alive by converting a key third down and didn’t do anything spectacularly bad. For a guy all but forgotten, he filled in admirably and deserves mention. It’s nice to see an athlete, demoted to afterthought, keep his head in the game and deliver when needed.

Making Jim Nantz Proud The Texans’ surprise win jockeyed for position in our affections with the Astros’ big win in Milwaukee, the Cubs’ huge loss at Shea and San Fran’s collapse against the Dodgers. Hard to imagine a Houston sports fan not going to bed tonight with a smile on their face.

What Went Wrong?

The Pass Protection We can bitch up a storm about the Texans not getting their playmakers the ball more often, but until Carr has more time to throw, it will all be in vain. He was pressured and harassed all day, making his fourth quarter performance all the more impressive. But the Texans have to find a way to keep him upright.

M*A*S*H Several Texans left the game and did not return, including Domanick Davis and Corey Bradford. Several others (among them Seth Payne, Gary Walker, Robaire Smith and Jay Foreman) had to be helped off the field. Considering last year, it’s always scary to see the medical staff on the field that often.

Stuck in the Starting Gate For the second consecutive week, the Texans’ offense, specifically the passing game, sputtered in the first half, only to rebound over the course of the final two quarters. Carr was merely 6/14 in the first half, including a huge interception in the end zone. The Texans did not generate a first down of their own until the second quarter and as they did against the Lions last week, failed to take advantage of a suspect secondary until nearly too late. Memo to Chris Palmer and the OL: Carr-to-Johnson is kind of effective; let’s make it happen more often.

Key Play Of The Game

There were no shortage of candidates this week. Obviously, the game-winner merits consideration, as does Coleman’s TD and the clutch fourth down conversion on the fake punt.

But in terms of improbable, how many figured Houston’s momentum after the fake punt had stalled when Carr fumbled and then was sacked at his own 35, setting up 3rd-and-17 with 7:20 left in the game?

But Carr stepped up, delivered a strike to Derrick Armstrong for 20 yards, and kept the eventual game-tying drive alive. More importantly, the Texans put the fate of the game in Carr’s hands and he delivered. If he progresses significantly from this game forward, that may turn out to be a pivotal play in his career.

Week 3 Recap Marcus Coleman tied the score at 14 with his 102-yard touchdown. Final Score Houston Texans 24 Kansas City Chiefs 21 Lookin’ Good

Kris Brown
He didn’t just kick the game-winner with :02 left, he nailed it. Brown has now won three games with last minute kicks. Remember us all wondering if Casserly was off his rocker when he signed Brown, giving up a draft choice in the process? He’s been clutch.

Oh, my eyes!

The OL Line
What is this, 2002? The Texans were overmatched much of the afternoon, allowing 3 sacks and several more hits on David Carr. The running backs didn’t fare appreciably better, averaging 2.9 yards a carry. Throw in a botched snap on what wound up being the game-tying drive and it was an afternoon to forget.

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