A win on the road. Whoda thunk it? The impotence of your Houston Texans on the road has been well chronicled, so no need to delve back into it in this space. It should be noted, however, that the Browns were beyond hospitable yesterday. It's a rarity for any team to turn the ball over five (5) times in a single game. It's even rarer for the Houston Texans to be on the receiving end of that kind of generosity. As is his custom, Sage Rosenfels did his best to swing the turnover margin back in favor of the opposition. Yet even Sage, in all of his nine-picks-in-five-games glory, couldn't overcome the hopelessness of Romeo Crennel's crew. Truly, yesterday was a battle of the titans, if the titans were the professional versions of the Washington and Washington State football teams.
Despite the complete lack of aesthetic value in the contest, there were several items of note to discuss. Without further ado:
1. The Texans' first offensive drive of the game was the sharpest they've looked all season. Fourteen (14) plays. Seventy-nine (79) yards. 8:11 off the clock. And capped off with a beautiful TD pass from Sage to Kevin Walter. Simply amazing. The only negative I found was that the drive's conclusion meant that Houston's defense would have to take the field.
2. For much of the first half, it looked like Kubes and Shanahan were content with implementing their patented 'Dre-As-Decoy strategy. Though I grow apoplectic when this plan is put into motion, I have to admit that Kevin Walter made it tolerable. The return to 'Dre, especially that twenty-two (22) yard catch he made on fourth down to set up Kris Brown's FG right before half, set me at ease (though I still wish Sage would look at 'Dre more in the red zone).
3. More Owen Daniels, please. The guy's a Pro Bowl TE. He should be targeted accordingly.
4. I was on record that Shaun Rogers would eat Chris Myers alive and boy, was I wrong. Myers, with help from Brisiel and/or Pitts, was tremendous. It was easily the best Myers has fared against a mammoth DT, and it's very encouraging.
5. For much of the game, the OL was opening up sizable holes for Slaton and Green. The progress of their run-blocking each week has been one of the few consistently awesome sights of the season.
6. If you're looking for a single stat from the offense that indicates why your Houston Texans won, look no further than the fact that they had the ball for 37:25.
7. Was it just me, or was anyone else disappointed that Kubes didn't order a shot or two at the end zone on that second possession of the game when the Texans had first and ten at the CLE 12? It reeked of settling for a FG and/or not trusting your QB. Certainly, the latter is totally understandable considering Sage's habit of making Christmas come early for opposing defenses. I'd still like to see a more aggressive mindset that early in the game. You're only up a TD; don't start playing not to lose before half, for crying out loud.
8. The stats indicate that Jacques Reeves played very well yesterday. And yes, he actually did make a nice play (with his hands!) in knocking away what could have been a TD pass to Braylon Edwards. And yes, he did show some nice awareness picking off a deflected ball. And yes, he did force a fumble. If he can replicate that effort in every game for the rest of the season, I will consider backing off my assertion that he is one of the, if not the, worst CB(s) in the NFL. Not until then.
9. On Braylon Edwards...wow. The crew over at Dawgs By Nature tried to prepare me for it, but I had to see it to believe it. I honestly cannot recall the last time I saw such a set of stone hands on a wide receiver. Edwards should have had at least ten (10) catches for 150 yards yesterday.
10. Excellent INT by Fred Bennett. Here's hoping it's the spark he needs to return to his 2007 form.
11. Anthony Weaver had an interception. Not saying that Brady Quinn should give up football or anything, but he'd be nuts not to question it.
12. I can say without any reservation that Anthony Weaver played the best game of his Texans career yesterday. That shouldn't make me sad, but it does.
13. Although Super Mario didn't pick up a sack against the Browns, he did do two (2) things I have never seen on a football field. First, he actually picked up Jamal Lewis and body slammed him. Second, he nearly sacked Derek Anderson over and/or through Joe Thomas. Seriously...after pushing his way into the pocket, Mario Williams almost got a sack with a stud LT in between him and the QB. Unreal.
14. You know who's going to start being labeled a bust pretty darn soon? Amobi Okoye. And unlike when we rushed to Super Mario's defense, there's not very much evidence available to defend against that assertion.
15. Something to look forward to in 2009? A starting LB corps of Xavier Adibi, DeMeco Ryans, and Zac Diles. That troika could be very, very nasty.
16. As Solis texted me during the game, we had an Antwaun Molden sighting! I don't recall much of what he did at CB, and that's probably a good thing; means he didn't get torched. He also was vital on special teams...
17. ....by recovering Jacoby Jones' fumble. I fear that we're never going to able to completely trust Jacoby with the ball.
18. Dunta Robinson started his first game in over a year yesterday, and the Houston Texans won on the road. His last start, you ask? Why, it also occurred the last time the Texans won on the road, more than a year ago! Coincidence? I think not.
19. It had to come to an end sometime, Kris Brown. Don't beat yourself up too much. But feel free to toss a haymaker or two Bryan Pittman's way. He's back to snapping like it's October 2007, albeit keeping things fresh by snapping low instead of high this time around.
20. There's nothing Richard Smith can do to save his job, right? Holding a team to six (6) points on the road is nowhere near enough, correct? Even if the defense pitches shutouts the rest of the season, Richard Smith has to be a goner, huh? I need reassurance.
21. A non-Texan related note: What was Romeo Crennel trying to accomplish by pulling Quinn in favor of Anderson? Is he begging to get canned? How can you do that to the young QB you just installed a week or two ago?
22. Fake Game Balls: Offense--Kevin Walter; Defense--Anthony Weaver (I'm as surprised as you are); Special Teams--Kris Brown.
No football this Sunday, baby, because MNF comes to Houston! I'm pretty sure watching two 4-7 "stalwarts" tangle with nearly nothing on the line was not exactly what ESPN had in mind when they selected this game. No matter. It's Monday Night Football, and I'm psyched. Bring on the Jags!