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First Loss of the Campaign--Post-Game Breakdown

Colts 30, Good Guys 24.  Complete box score here.

Like Liston, I'm not someone who believes in moral victories as a rule.  That's because they're not "victories" at all.  In that same vein, I generally don't put any value in a "good loss."  But as a devoted fan of a franchise whose history has been fraught with terrible losses, I'm going to make an exception here.  Yesterday's loss was downright valiant.  Think about it:  No 'Dre.  No Mediocre Dayne.  Ahman Green goes down immediately after the first quarter and does not return.  Jacoby Jones goes down.  Steve McKinney goes down.  It got so bad that I was just waiting for Bob Sanders to run off the field to level Kubes.

For a good chunk (and in some cases all) of Sunday's game, the hometown team was without (1) its No. 1 WR; (2) its No. 1 RB; (3) its No. 2 RB; (4) its No. 1 C; and (5) its No. 1 PR/No. 2 WR.  That's five (5!) players who start or heavily contribute to the offense.  And let's not forget the absolutey sickening worry that consumed us all when Cedric Killings was carried off the field on the stretcher, just two (2) weeks after Kevin Everett made us all realize what's at risk every time these guys take the field.  If ever a team had an excuse to come out or go flat, your Houston Texans did yesterday.  But they didn't.  They fought.  They were down 24-10 at the end of the third quarter.  They then proceeded to score 14 points in the fourth quarter.  They had a chance (albeit minimal) to win the game at the end.  In short, they made us proud.  It ain't a win.  But if we're going to have to swallow a loss, we've certainly had exponentially worse ones to choke down in the last five (5) years.  So the dream of wiping the smug grin off that champagne-swilling sadist Nick Buoniconti at Reliant on 12/30/07 is dead.  For now.  Without further ado, thoughts on yesterday's "good loss"...

  1.  As if there was any other place to heart dropped into my stomach when Cedric Killings didn't move.  Great, and I mean GREAT, news to hear he's already standing up on his own.  And thanks to the classy Colts fans for keeping a good thought.  We appreciate it.
  2.  Now to segue to something much lighter.  I had the privilege of watching the second half of yesterday's game with the infamous BFD.  I won't eviscerate his streed cred by disclosing that he was drinking iced tea...that will remain confidential.  Ahhhh, crap.  But it was a blast hanging out, and I look forward to doing it again.
  3.  Where did we take in yesterday's game, you ask?  Well, I was in Austin to watch my alma mater tangle with the plucky Owls of Rice University, who somehow don't have SB Nation representation yet.  Why, I have no idea.  But thanks to the recommendation of several readers, BFD and I took in the game at the Third Base Sports Bar.  I can say this:  If you are a Texans fan in Austin, Third Base is undoubtedly the place to be.  An entire section was cordoned off for our ilk, and the fans there were ridiculously enthusiastic (right down to chanting "That's a Houston Texans...First Down!").  In the Texans section, six (6!) 42" plasmas and a projection screen were tuned to the game.  It was first class all the way.  Oh, and even if you're not a Texans fan...go to Third Base.  John Christ himself doesn't have as many televisions as Third Base does.
  4.  As Scott reported here, Steve McKinney is out for the season.  I knew it was bad (and commented as such to BFD, who was on the business end of a five foot beer bong) when I saw the doctors manipulating his knee the same way my orthopedic surgeon did to me the day after I tore my ACL.  I guess you could say McKinney and I are sort of the same person.  Except that, you know, I tore my ACL getting ready to slide into first base in a beer league softball game, and he tore his playing professional football.  Moving on...
  5.  Thank God for Mike Flanagan.  He got beat out for the starting gig in camp and isn't as good run blocking as McKinney, but at least he's a veteran with starting experience.  If there was a position on the OL that could weather a season-ending injury, it's center.
  6.  One of the big stories of yesterday's game was Apostrophe Davis going from inactive to the team's leading receiver.  Dude was a gamer, and his play makes me feel a bit better about the fact that our Texans will have to face the Falcons without 'Dre and ...
  7.  Jacoby Jones.  Ouch.  He ran that punt back 74 yards and then separates his shoulder.  When a punter fell on him.  I'm not sure what's worse--the fact that he'll be out 2-3 weeks, or that he got done like that by a punter.  Unless that punter is Matt Turk, that's just completely unacceptable.  The only way that injury could have been more embarrassing is if Peyton Manning's mom knocked him out of the game.
  8.  I feared the worst about Ahman Green, but the word (from Ahman, no less) is that "it's nothing bad."  The Texans need him (or at least, to a lesser degree, Ron Dayne) in a bad way, because yesterday's rushing "attack" was simply putrid.  I realize they were playing from behind and had to limit the running game accordingly, but man...40 rushing yards?  For the game?  And Jameel "Hands" Cook as your leading rusher?  What does that say about Samkon Gado?  If Ahman isn't ready for Sunday's game (really, even if he is), I'm on the horn with the agent(s) for Darius Walker and Wali Lundy if I'm Smithiak.  At least either of those two has a chance to be a legit stand-in for Ahman if necessary.
  9.  Owen Daniels owns the middle of the field.
  10.  Kevin Walter owns 1/16th of a timeshare there.
  11.  It must have been the fumes coming off the 65 empty beer bottles in front of BFD, but I could've sworn I saw Jerome Mathis line up at WR.  And make a catch.  I thought that was illegal under the collective bargaining agreement.  And how about the opening return?  I thought Reliant (and Third Base) was going to explode.  Given his inability to get on the field, it's easy to forget that Mathis was a Pro Bowler.  Runs like that make me remember.
  12.  Mark Bruener fumbled that ball.  We got lucky.
  13.  Seeing as how thin we are at WR right now, does anyone else think that Jeb Putzier and Owen Daniels should be on the field at the same time this week?
  14.  I hate to criticize The Schaub.  Really, I do.  But that pick to Brackett was really, really bad.  I mean, Bradlee Van Pelt recognized that was a terrible decision.  It simply killed the Texans' momentum.  The pick to Boiman was just a fluke; I'm not worried about that.  But that's two (2) bad decisions in the red zone in three (3) weeks.  No reason to think The Schaub isn't the product of immaculate conception, but worth noting.  And how could I not mention how freaking awesome he looked in the second half, completing 14 passes in a row when everyone in the world KNEW the Texans had abandoned the running game? And these weren't 14 BS completions in a row, unlike our former QB's "record" last year where he completed 20+ three-yard checkdowns in a row; these were legit passes and moved the team down the field at 8-10 yards a clip.  Not to mention how The Schaub looked as if he was ready to forcibly remove an eyeball that had some dirt in it instead of coming out of the game.  I can't wait to see what he does in his homecoming this Sunday.
  15.  The run defense was unbelievable again.  92 total yards surrendered on the ground at an average of 3.2 yards per carry.  I'm going to say it--the Texans' Front Seven is the most underrated unit in the league.      
  16.  This week's "The Extraordinary Is Ordinary" stat line for one DeMeco Ryans?  13 tackles.  Yawn (read:  God, we are lucky to have him).
  17.  Amobi--three (3) sacks in two (2) weeks.  And one of those was against a guy who simply does not get sacked.  Yup--definitely a bust.
  18.  C.C. Brown hit some Colts in the mouth.  Once he gets that whole coverage thing down, he'll be a complete player, I tell you.
  19.  Michael Boulware looked like he just got lost on the Dallas Clark goaline TD reception.  That's okay--he's still learning the scheme.  I'll bet it (read:  Dallas Clark catching a pass in the back of the endzone when Boulware is matched up against him) doesn't happen again.
  20.  I've saved the worst for last, and the worst's name is Petey Faggins.  If there was a way Kubes could award an Anti-Game Ball, Faggins would have gotten it.  Talk about getting picked on.  As I texted MDC immediately after the game, the only explanation I can come up with is that Richard Smith told him not to get beat deep, even if it meant giving an 8-yard cushion to his assignment on every play.  In fact, that's what I'm going to believe--that his coach ordered him to play like that.  Because if Faggins simply elected that strategy on his own against a team that features Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne and is still deemed the second-best CB on the roster, I'm going to get (another) ulcer before the middle of October.
  21.  Fake Game Balls to Apostrophe Davis (offense), DeMeco Ryans (defense), and Jerome Mathis (special teams).
Time to refocus. The Schaub returns to the team that deemed him expendable on Sunday.  It won't be nearly the cakewalk people might think it should be (particularly given the spate of injuries suffered by the hometown team), but it's still very much a winnable game.  Let's hope for the first winning September in franchise history.