The offense has looked better this season. The defense most definitely hadn't. Qualify the victory however you want, but give me those qualifications every day of the week over the suicide watch that would have surely accompanied a loss. 2-2 is exponentially better than 1-3, so we should probably keep a positive outlook. Quick thoughts on the game:
1. I'm going to lead with Brian Cushing because he impressed me more than any other player on the field yesterday. He was, as -Jay texted me, "...everywhere...including [my] mind." Sure tackling, pressuring the QB, the appearance of being in on every play, the safety...what can I say, except that it's all but confirmed anew that I have no idea what I'm talking about? While I remain concerned about his ability to stay healthy, I've seen enough to say: Mea culpa, Mr. Cushing. Please accept this idiot's humble apologies.
2. Yesterday was Amobi Okoye's finest game in two years. Anyone disagree?
3. While Antonio Smith has yet to look like he was worth the huge free agent dollars he commanded, a few more afternoons like that and we'll all feel a whole lot better about him being in the long-term plans on the defensive line.
4. Throughout this young season, I've failed miserably at giving Tim Bulman the recognition he deserves. Seems like every time he's on the field, he's around the ball. Nice to see him getting more reps in the rotation.
5. Say what you will about Jeff Zgonina, but the guy consistently makes one more play per game than Travis Johnson ever did.
6. A very solid, albeit rather quiet, game from Zac Diles. The same could be said about DeMeco. Both were blotted out by the Sun That Is Brian Cushing.
7. Typing that last sentence felt like penance for me.
8. I'd love to get excited about the secondary's play. Really, I would. But JaMarcus Russell and the Oakland receiving corps are so bad, I'm just not sure that the secondary's success against the pass wasn't more a product of a bad offense's misfiring repeatedly. I will say, however, that Glover Quin and Bernard Pollard looked much, much better than the dudes they replaced (Fred Bennett and Dominique Barber, though Barber got the start due to Eugene Wilson's illness and actually played darn well). Indeed, D. Barber's stellar play yesterday, after looking so clueless the previous three games, only underscores the notion that any strides that may have appeared to have been made on the defense could be primarily due to the inept nature of the opposition. I'll reserve judgment, particularly because the secondary will have a chance to address the criticism directly on Sunday in Arizona, where they will be sporting large bullseyes on their backs.
9. Like pretty much everyone else on the defense, Dunta Robinson had his best game of the season. Was it worth $23 mil guaranteed? No.
10. One of these days, Mario Williams is going to split a QB in two, and I will not be the least bit surprised.
12. In your entire life, you may not ever see a worse group of wide receivers than what Oakland trotted out at Reliant Stadium. I've never seen so many drops in a professional football game.
13. Of course, it might have helped if JaMarcus Russell was capable of putting touch on the ball instead of trying to break fingers with every pass.
14. I feel bad for Raiders fans. And if there's something more humiliating than pity from a Texans fan, I don't know what it is.
15. After looking like one of the best QBs in the league the last two weeks, Matt Schaub looked awfully shaky yesterday. I realize he didn't have a chance to atone much in the second half due to the conservative nature of the game plan, especially after the safety and Jacoby Jones' TD, but a 50% completion rate is not getting it done. And for the record, that's two awful interceptions in the red zone in two weeks.
16. In the same vein as the preceding point, I'm stunned that Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels only had two (2) catches each. I'm even more stunned that they were the team's leading receivers with those numbers.
17. That gorgeous 95-yard TD return isn't fooling me. I'm still mortified every time Jacoby Jones takes the field.
18. Two scores aside, can we officially be worried about Steve Slaton? It looked like it took Ryan Moats stealing carries, and threatening to steal more, before Slaton got it together.
19. Kris Brown missed a field goal. When was the last time that happened?
20. Fake Game Balls: Offense--Steve Slaton (I guess); Defense--Brian Cushing; Special Teams--Jacoby Jones.
Your Houston Texans head to the desert this weekend. The good news is that we should get a much better idea whether the new additions to the starting secondary are tangible upgrades or merely rearranged deck chairs on the Titanic. I think we'll see a healthy amount of blitzing again, because Frank Bush cannot realistically like his unit's chances of covering Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston & Co. if Kurt Warner does not feel heat on a regular basis throughout the afternoon. From a big picture perspective, I'll be watching with great interest to see if the team can put together two consecutive quality games in a row. Hasn't happened so far this season, and it had better start soon if this team has designs on breaking the 8-8 mold.