September 28, 2003
When Push Became Shove
by Keith Weiland
Oddsmakers had the Texans as three point underdogs on their home turf. Driving for a go-ahead score, Houston inexplicably called for the halfback option pass, and Houston’s halfback chose the wrong option. With 4:24 left to play, according to the thousands of feet stomping towards the exits, those wiseguys were looking pretty darn smart.
I can understand being downtrodden, but far too many fans in attendance ripped up their betting slips and tucked tail for the parking lots. What’s that saying about a fool and his money? Fans who counted their chickens as rotten eggs before letting the Texans hatch a new plan should not make that mistake again.
Wait long enough, and an 0-3 team with rookie quarterback starting his first game will make a poor decision with the football. I hope those of you who failed to find any hope enjoyed the best finish in franchise history from your vehicle’s bucket seats.
You see, Sunday’s game against the Jaguars was a glimpse into the future of AFC South football, and this was the type of game where you throw out the incoming won-loss records – please – to settle this meeting of the moveable object and resistable force on the field of play.
With two seconds remaining and down by three, Houston coach Dom Capers could have played for the tie. Instead, eyeing his team on six inches from paydirt, he shot a huge middle finger to conventional wisdom and went for the glory.
For a team that has shown little confidence in itself when it comes to offensive playcalling, Capers’ decision on Sunday was nothing short of unbelievable. It should go without saying that, had Carr been unable to fly over his lineman for the winning score, this decision would haunt him for weeks, probably longer.
On the home turf, most head coaches like the advantage of twelfth man and take their chances with a coin flip. That Capers didn’t like those chances says one of three things:
(1) Capers has confidence in his quarterback and linemen to make less than a yard of forward progress, and that if they couldn’t, they didn’t deserve to win anyway,
(2) Capers had little faith in his team having the endurance to play what might have been another fifteen minutes of football, or
(3) Capers witnessed a twelfth of his twelfth man hauling ass out the gates to beat the traffic only minutes earlier.
I’ll be optimistic and say the decision is all about #1. It’s at least the explanation Capers gave in his post-game press conference. Carr plays with a lot of emotion, and emotion alone could have given him the necessary distance for Sunday’s walk-off score.
As for #2, the Texans did come out flat again in the third quarter for the third week in a row. A fifth quarter situation might have proved more daunting than any third quarter has so far. Playing a team in Jacksonville that has been equally inept in the second half, I expected a little more punch this week. I’m beginning to wonder if the team has hired mimes for halftime servings of fudge and motivational speeches.
And for #3, well, you know who you are, and you’ve been warned.
Capers’ call worked, and the Texans have once again shoved their way back into the limelight. Sparked by the performance of two rookies, running back Dominick Davis and wide receiver Andre Johnson, the Texans have earned the bye week off and have a rather impressive 2-2 record to show for it.
Tennessee @ Auburn, 6:45pm CT, ESPN – Auburn’s loss to USC in August may have exposed the Tigers as little more than a preseason paper champion, but don’t be so quick to discount some of the individual talent still on this football team. The defense is where your eyes belong, as Auburn has a dynamic duo at linebacker in the 6’5" Karlos Dansby and the 6’4" Dontarrious Thomas. And if the sight of one of those two in a Texans uniform next year isn’t enough to whet your appetite, then surely the thought of defensive tackle DeMarco McNeil will. At 6’1" and 305 pounds, McNeil would fit in nicely in a Steel Blue jersey on the Texans’ defensive line.
Keith Weiland would like to welcome those of you who were watching the Astros. You are joining the Texans season already in progress.
David Carr Home