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This Week in the Red Zone, Or How Anime Can Put This Game Into Perspective: Carolina Panthers vs. Houston Texans

I am an anime nerd. I admit it. Before I got a real job, I would spend my days watching Adult Swim's anime lineup on my DVR--when I wasn't on here, at least. One of my favorites is a show called "Fullmetal Alchemist." In that show, people can turn air into fire, scrap metal into full suits of armor, and could, if applied to football, turn Frank Bush into Wade Phillips. But there's a rule that they must follow called "Equivalent Exchange." In order to gain, something of equal value must be surrendered.

I believe in balance. I think, however irrational it may be (and trust me, I know it is), that for every game the Texans win that they aren't "supposed to," they must lose an equally stunning game that they "should" win. For every Steelers game, there's a snafu-laden Raiders game. Since October, I think the Texans have had to give up something, whether it be losing Schaub against the Buccaneers, Danieal Manning against the Titans, and so on, in order to get something of equal value: a win.

Of course it's all superstitious nonsense, but it's the only way I can make sense of the way the Texans played Sunday against the Panthers. For winning against either the Falcons (or Bengals, I'm not entirely sure), the Texans had to give up what was should have been a win after clinching a playoff berth.

With that tenuous connection between anime and football being made, let's get to how the Texans fared in the red zone.

Jump. And bring your tissues with you.

Third Quarter

First Red Zone Drive

The Texans' first appearance in the red zone came at the end of an 18-yard scamper by Arian Foster, which took the Texans to the Panthers' 12-yard line.

Then on first down, the Texans gave the ball to Foster, who ran off the left side for a five yard gain.

On second-and-five at the Panthers' seven, T.J. Yates threw an incomplete pass intended for Arian Foster.

Third down came and saw Yates throw again, this time intended for Kevin Walter, which fell incomplete...again.

Fourth-and-five arrived and, for reasons that nobody has explained to my satisfaction, Rackers came into the game to successfully kick a 26-yard field goal that would cut the Panthers' lead at that point to a scant 18 points.


Time Spent in Red Zone: :47
End Result: Neil Rackers finally boots the ball through the uprights for a field goal.
Score: Carolina 21 - Houston 3

Second Red Zone Drive

The second Texans' red zone drive came on the next series. Yates threw a 12 yard dart to Owen Daniels, which would be good if it weren't for the fact the Texans faced a first-and-20 at the time.

The Texans got to the Panthers' 16 on second-and-eight when Yates lobbed a deep pass for Joel Dreessen that went incomplete.

On third-and-eight, a third down the Texans desperately needed to convert on, Yates threw another incompletion, this time aimed at Bryant Johnson.

So on fourth-and-eight out comes, again, the kicking team where Rackers would successfully kick a 34-yard field goal.

Time Spent in Red Zone: :18
End Result: Yet another Neil Rackers field goal.
Score: Carolina 21 - Houston 6

Fourth Quarter

Third Red Zone Drive

The fourth quarter began with the Texans at the Carolina 11 after Yates completed a 19-yard pass to Kevin Walter.

On first-and-10, Foster got the carry and gained six yards for his efforts.

The Texans faced second-and-four at the five when Foster got the ball again, this time reaching the one-yard line.

Third down came, and the Texans, who had not hit paydirt yet, finally did when Foster took the ball off Duane Brown's side for the touchdown.

Time Spent in Red Zone: 1:12
End Result: Another bow by Arian Foster and a Texans touchdown!
Score: Carolina 21 - Houston 13

Fourth Red Zone Drive

The Texans had hopes of pulling another comeback out as they arrived in the red zone for the fourth time. This time, Foster reached the Panthers' 10 after catching a 22-yard pass from Yates.

The Texans had first-and-goal from the 10 as Foster took the ball for a three-yard gain.

On second-and-seven, Yates took a sack for a loss of two yards.

Then on third-and-nine, Yates threw, in what looked eerily similar to the Raiders game, an interception which was intended for Jacoby Jones, who stopped and moved out of position.

Time Spent in Red Zone: 1:19
End Result: A game-sealing interception by the Panthers, and concussion symptoms for one blogger after banging his head repeatedly against the table afterward.
Score: Carolina 28 - Houston 13

Final Results

Number of Red Zone Trips: 4.
Total Time in Red Zone: 3:36.
Average Amount of Time in Red Zone: :54.
Red Zone Efficiency: 3/4 (75%).
Scores in Red Zone: 1 TD (Foster), 2 FGs (26, 34).

Thursday the Texans face the Colts, fresh off their first win of the season...against the Southern Kentucky BE-SFs...suddenly, I don't feel quite so bad.

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