That was a ball, was it not? Not a pretty game aesthetically, but you won't see me even beginning to turn my nose up at the first four (4) game winning streak in franchise history. It could have been 2-0 and I'd still be ecstatic. Tons to talk about, so let's dive in:
1. I love that all it took for Andre Johnson to get some love from places outside H-Town was an 11 reception, 207 yard, 1 TD game. I'm not going to play the "no respect" card, yet it's laughable that 'Dre is the best WR in the league and 90% of NFL fans don't know it. All the guy does is make big play after big play on the field while keeping a ridiculously low profile off it. The only non-statistical headlines you ever see his name in are the ones you'd pray to see every player's name in. We should thank our lucky stars every day that we've got 'Dre. In a related story, Cortland Finnegan should thank his lucky stars every day that he only has to see Andre Johnson twice a year.
2. Although he made a few curious throws that appeared to be aimed at the dirt, I was incredibly impressed with Matt Schaub's performance yesterday. He was under a good amount of pressure all day and took some hard shots, yet he stood tall and made some huge throws. Some of those needles he threaded to 'Dre and Kevin Walter were simply ridiculous. His failure to feel pressure from Jevon Kearse and subsequent fumble aside, it was awesome to see him hang in there and move the ball against a great defense.
3. Speaking of Kearse...Eric Winston was used and abused all day. That said, I clearly remember one third down run by Steve Slaton that was essentially stopped a couple yards short of the marker until Winston single-handedly dragged Slaton to a first down. I actually jumped out of my chair and was ready to make Winston the player of the game on that play alone.
4. I thought the middle troika of Brisiel, Myers, and Pitts did yeoman work all afternoon long. They lost a few battles, but they were approximately ninety-seven (97) times better than they were in the first match-up with the Titans.
5. I remain puzzled as to why Ephraim Salaam continues to take snaps from Duane Brown. Brown ain't Orlando Pace (yet), but he's the future at LT, and he sure as heck looks better than Salaam, including but not limited to Salaam's sudden penchant for being penalized on what seems like every third snap.
6. Really, really surprised how quiet K-Dub and Owen Daniels were yesterday. I'm going to chalk that up to 'Dre imposing his will on the Titans and The Schaub exploiting that mismatch. Know this, though: We'll need big games from both of those guys on Sunday at Oakland, because Nnamdi Asomugha's going to be in 'Dre's hip pocket all day long.
7. Tell me another RB you'd rather have for the next three (3) years instead of Steve Slaton. If that list is more than five (5) players (maximum) long, I call shenanigans. I continue to be amazed with Slaton's toughness each week. He keeps his legs moving and seems to pick up tough yards you wouldn't expect from a back his size. And then he breaks one off, and there are no words to describe it, so I'm forced to make one up. And I'm going to do so right now. Scrumtrilescent.
8. It was said a couple of times in the second-half live game thread, but it bears repeating: Only one (1) player has rushed for 100 yards against the vaunted Tennessee defense all season, and said player did it both times he played 'em. Steve. Effing. Slaton.
9. Despite missing a chip shot, Kris Brown gets a free pass. He's banked more than enough capital to warrant that, and he did rebound to kick the FG that proved to be the difference.
10. It was negated by K. Brown's shank, but Apostrophe Davis had a big-time return in the third quarter to set that drive up, and he downed one of Turk's punts awfully close to the goal line. The best part about Apostrophe? Unlike Jacoby Jones, my heart doesn't drop into my stomach every time he touches the ball.
11. If you didn't watch the game, you might think that the Houston secondary had a very good day. And yes, Fred Bennett did pick Kerry Collins off, albeit on what was the equivalent of a punt by Collins; it was that bad of a throw. To my eye, the lack of success in the Titan passing game was far more about Collins' inaccuracy than the secondary's coverage. Collins was off all afternoon, and his receivers were dropping many of the balls he did put in their breadbaskets. Even on the much ballyhooed 4th and 3 play that clinched the game for the Texans (more on that in a bit), Justin McCareins had Jacques Reeves beat. The throw was juuuuuust out of McCareins' reach. Consequently, I do not see Tennessee's paltry passing stats as some sort of a breakthrough for our secondary. Kerry Collins had a greater responsibility for his team's struggles than Richard Smith's secondary did.
12. Speaking of Richard Smith...don't look now. It's happening. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
13. DelJuan Robinson was a freaking animal yesterday, getting in the backfield and making plays seemingly every time he was in there. By my count, it's now official: Every DT on the Houston roster should be playing before Travis Johnson. Yet none does. That in and of itself should be a fireable offense.
14. Two (2) season-ending injuries of note for the good guys: Both Xavier Adibi and Antwaun Molden are done for the year. The silver lining with Adibi is that we have a pretty good idea what we've got with him, and it's much better than Morlon Greenwood. I'm still bent we didn't see more of Molden at CB this season.
15. Welcome back to the land of the living, Amobi. That stop of LenDale White in the early fourth quarter was HUGE.
16. While I think DeMeco could have done better in mocking the White-Johnson tandem, the message is accurate. The Titan running game was a non-factor when it mattered the most, though we should thank the Tennessee coaches for not continuing to give the ball to Chris Johnson. Seemed like he was good for ten (10) yards every time he touched the ball, especially in the first half.
17. I miss Zac Diles, but Kevin Bentley has done a great job filling in for him. Bentley has shown a knack for making plays in the backfield that we didn't really see with Diles, though that may be entirely due to Richard Smith finally allowing his linebackers to cross the line of scrimmage.
18. Thank you, Jeff Fisher. Thank you for not using Bironas to try to win the game, even though he'd hit from 51 in the first half. Yeah, yeah...the wind. Whatever. You can't fool me. My Christmas gift to you is in the mail.
19. Not to spoil the surprise, Coach, but it's a Vince Young jersey.
20. Some of the quotes from various Titans after the game simultaneously baffled and enraged me. To wit:
"Slaton didn’t do anything," Titans outside linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "Slaton busted that run (34 yards) at the end of the game, and we pretty much had him in check. To tell you the truth, I don’t think their running game hurt us at all today."
"We know this team isn’t better than us," Titans tight end Bo Scaife said. "This team isn’t going to the playoffs, and we played down to their caliber today.’’
[LenDale White said] "This game means nothing anymore. We will not be playing this team anymore. It’s a big win for them as an organization I guess or supposedly. No matter what they do they’ll still go home on playoffs. We have a lot to look forward to."
[Cortland Finnegan, on his helmet-to-helmet cheapshot on The Schaub] "If I did I was just giving him a quick, you know - kiss, welcoming him back to Houston you know from the Oilers. So that is about all that is."
Why can't these guys just say the classy thing? Something to the effect of, "Give the Texans credit; they were the better team today." Why demean the accomplishment of your opponent? What good does that do? All it does is make Houston fans hate Bud Adams' troops even more than we already do.
21. Since we're on the subject of hate, you know I couldn't let a Texans-Titans game pass without checking in with my buddy Jay. As longtime readers will recall, Jay became a bit of a legend around here after his showdown with Bud Adams in Nashville last year. As expected, Jay had a few choice words for Albert Haynesworth when he went down with an injury that will keep him sidelined until at least the postseason. Haynesworth's run his mouth and been an absolutely classless piece of garbage to Matt Schaub and the Texans, so I don't think there were many Houston fans broken up to see him go down. As you'd figure, Jay was not in the "awwwww, I hope he's okay" camp. Quotes from the man who may hate the Titans more than anyone in the world:
"You're killing the grass, Albert! Get up!"
"I hope it's broken."
"Where's your contract now, Albert?"
Classy? Perhaps not. But if anyone deserved a dose of what he's dished out over the years, it's Haynesworth.
22. Fake Game Balls: Offense--Andre Johnson; Defense--DelJuan Robinson; Special Teams--Apostrophe Davis.
On to the Black Hole, and a shot at the first .500 plus record of the season!