A day and a half later, I'm still stunned. Your Houston Texans were in the driver's seat for nearly the entirety of their season opener against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts, man! The team that had won 15 of the 16 games played! The team that features Peyton Manning at QB! The team coming off a Super Bowl appearance! And now, the team that's sitting in the cellar of the AFC South, complete with a loss to a divisional foe. Who'd have thunk it?
This in no way means Texans fans should start blocking off the second weekend of January. Just as a loss wouldn't have been the end of the world, a win doesn't stamp the Texans as anything except a home team that held serve in an intradivision matchup. Nonetheless, it is exciting, and we should enjoy it. Wins, much less wins against the Colts, have been all too rare around these parts. I have to remind myself, however, that they don't determine the postseason participants based on Week One records. Fifteen more games to play, and if they are anything like what we saw in Week One, we're in for a treat. Some specific thoughts after the jump...
1. Arian Foster...there are no words. How weird is it to see "33" in front of "rushing attempts?" Oh, and the small matter of 231 FREAKING YARDS AND 3 TDs. I hate to fall into the "best ever" trap. Really, I do. Yet watch me do it. Best game by a Texans running back ever.
2. Underrated aspect of Arian Foster's historic afternoon--maybe people will stop calling him "Adrian."
3. As amazing as Foster was--and he was a revelation on par with sliced bread and/or cold-activated aluminum cans--the offensive line was opening up monstrous holes for him. I can't remember the last time a Texans RB had that kind of space in which to operate. Maybe during Steve Slaton's glorious 2008 campaign? Regardless, the offensive line's run-blocking (and that necessarily includes Vonta Leach, who was as good as I've ever seen him) was phenomenal. It'll be very interesting to see whether that domination will still be in effect against the Redskins on Sunday. In other words, was Sunday's awesomeness just as much an indictment of the Colts' front seven?
4. He only had six carries, but Steve Slaton looked good running the ball. We didn't even get to see him where he should really shine--catching the ball out of the backfield. But hey...six carries, 29 yards, no fumbles. I'll take it.
5. Matt Schaub went 9-17 for 107 yards, with a TD and a patented whatthehellishedoing interception. As many have observed, if you had told me he'd post that line before the game, I would have thought the Texans lost by 21 points. Instead, they won by 10. Black is white, up is down, and the Texans are winning by running the ball. Insane.
6. Andre Johnson had only 3 catches for 33 yards. The Texans still won by 10 points.
7. Perhaps the best part of such a quiet opener for the Texans' passing game? Giving the Redskins, who figure to know the Texans offense better than anyone thanks to Mike and Kyle Shanahan, what should be a very uneasy feeling about Sunday's tilt. You can't just expect the Texans to air it out like they did last year. Small sample size and all, but the Texans have shown they have the means to be much more than a one-trick pony on offense.
8. Jacoby Jones continues to frustrate. His opening punt return was a thing of beauty, but he dropped a very catchable ball in the end zone. In fairness to Jakespeare, he didn't have much of a chance to atone in the receiving game, what with the OL and Arian Foster laying waste to everything in their path.
9. Only one catch for Owen Daniels in his return from a torn ACL. This would be fine by me even if the passing game had been humming along at its normal pace. Easing OD back into the offense, considering he had no live preseason game snaps, makes all the sense in the world.
10. Have to make special mention of Kevin Walter. The box score shows his first half TD catch, and it was tremendous. But his recovery of the Colts' first onside kick in the fourth quarter was perfection. He timed his jump flawlessly, grabbed the ball at the height of his jump, and managed to hang onto the ball despite slamming into the turf from a significant height. HUGE play.
11. Neil Rackers didn't miss any FGs, which was good. He also threw in a stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which was bad. Then again, he didn't miss any FGs, so no "WE CUT THE WRONG GUY!" lamentations yet.
12. I almost felt bad for the Colts offensive line. Almost. I look forward to Bill Polian petitioning the Rules Committee to pass an edict permitting opposing teams to tackle defensive linemen whose first name rhymes with "Nario."
13. If Mario Williams is 75% as effective all season as he was on Sunday, my calculations indicate that he will finish the 2010 campaign with 158 sacks and 1,298 QB hurries.
14. Antonio Smith was solid, which was not unexpected. So was Amobi Okoye, which was completely unexpected. I'm anxious to see what Rivers' tape study reveals. I don't think Amobi's looked as good as he did Sunday since his rookie year.
15. Keep a good thought for Connor Barwin. His injury was about as nasty as anything you'll see this side of Willis McGahee's leg reversing anatomical structure on the fly.
16. Pressuring Peyton Manning is generally a futile proposition. He's so smart and so quick getting rid of the ball that he can almost always beat the rush. The fact that he was consistently hit and frustrated by the Texans speaks volumes and is a great testament to the players and Frank Bush.
17. The Houston secondary was by far the most glaring weakness of the afternoon. Of course, they did have to deal with an abnormal number of pass attempts (57) from the Colts. And they did manage to keep the Indy receivers in front of them for the vast majority of the game. It's nitpicking right now, sure. Yet it was the area Texans fans were, on balance, the most concerned with, and it remains the primary concern after the first game of the season.
18. Anybody else screaming, "NOOOOOOO!!!" when Kubes elected to go for it on 4th and 1 from the IND 20 early in the third quarter, with the Colts only trailing by 3 points? That was the play of the game in what was the back-breaking drive of the game. You don't often see the Houston Texans impose their will on another team. Especially not the Colts. But that's precisely what happened there.
19. Fake Game Balls: Offense--Arian Foster; Defense--Mario Williams; Special Teams--Neil Rackers. And I'd give Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison a weepy hug if I saw them. Tremendous game plan and even more importantly, halftime adjustments the likes of which we've rarely seen in Houston.
I don't want to say the Texans stole a victory, because they're a legitimately talented team that was fortunate enough to open at home. Against the Colts, though? Without Brian Cushing? It's something, man. Here's to keeping that indescribable feeling going on Sunday in our nation's capital.