September 7, 2003
¡Hola Tres Amigos!
by Keith Weiland
So that’s what it’s like rooting for a capable football team.
Been so long since we had one from Houston that I had forgotten what it was like. Sure, this one’s got a lot of work still to do in order to get where they want to go, but the Texans sure feel like a real football team now.
Shedding that expansion label, the Texans socked it to the Dolphins on Sunday, upsetting a possible Super Bowl contender for a 21-20 win. Aretha Franklin must’ve taught the Texans well on Thursday, because around the league, they’ve earned a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Wanna find out what it means to me? For starters, it means no more excuses. The Texans proved themselves against a pretty good team and an even better defense.
The much-maligned offensive line gave up zero sacks. ZERO. Tackle Chester Pitts kept Jason Taylor, he of the 18 sacks in 2002, in check all game and out of the backfield. Newcomers Zach Wiegert and Greg Randall also helped open a few rushing lanes to keep the Dolphin pass rush from pinning their ears back. David Carr oughtta dust off his wallet and let these guys eat a little steak dinner this week.
Sunday’s win also means that Carr and the three amigos, Jabar Gaffney, Corey Bradford and Andre Johnson, are using real bullets. They made one of the best secondaries in the NFL second guess themselves all day. Giving Carr a plethora of options from which to choose, the amigos amassed 231 receiving yards, with totals evenly spread amongst the three.
Working from the slot, Gaffney established himself early with sharp routes and sound hands. Bradford then became instant offense in the third quarter, catching a 78-yard touchdown pass. Johnson had perhaps the best overall game of the three, hauling in six passes to lead the team in just his first regular season game. He showed off his well-publicized strength, at one point breaking tackles to turn a 7-yard reception into a 17-yard gain.
Despite missing All-Pro end Gary Walker on defense, nose tackle Seth Payne was a physical presence from the inside, collecting four tackles. He shrunk running lanes and helped a pass rush keep the pressure on the Dolphins offense.
Corner Marcus Coleman got into the act with two interceptions and good coverage. Inspired, he even played a little offense and caught a 6-yard pass.
The Texans, however, weren’t without their own version of El Guapo, Matt Stevens. His attempt to tackle Miami wideout Chris Chambers sprinting for a touchdown was far from pretty, though the replay did seem to show Chambers touching the sideline. Still, this is a weakness other teams are certain to exploit again down the road.
Above all else, the respect earned in Miami will lessen the chances that another opponent will take the Texans as lightly as the Dolphins and their fans did on Sunday. It’s worth it though. Playing the role of spoiler so early in the season is so last year.
Tune in, drop out… If you took my advice last week and watched the Hurricanes battle the Gators, then you were treated to quite a game. No promises that this one will be as entertaining, but there are some talented players to watch this Saturday.
Notre Dame @ Michigan, 2:30pm CT, ABC – Wolverine cornerback Marlin Jackson has the best talent on this field. His coach, Lloyd Carr, must be a little nuts to take his best coverman and make him play safety. For the Texans, however, that type of versatility with Aaron Glenn and Marcus Coleman still here getting the job done might be a good thing. The Golden Domers also have their own athletic shutdown corner, Vontez Duff. He’s already a Texan, too, hailing from Copperas Cove.
Keith Weiland’s little buttercup has the sweetest smile. Andre Johnson Home