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The Captain's Log 2014, Game 15: "Oblivion"

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Capt Ron chronicles the Texans' total domination of the Ravens, the return of Case Keenum, and the continuation of J.J. Watt's MVP campaign.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Captain's Log Supplemental

Please accept my apologies for the late installment this week.  I was hiking in the mountains of Big Bend National Park and had no access to the rest of the world.  Those of you who have had the privilege of visiting the spectacular views of the Chisos Mountains can understand why I make it a regular rotation in my travels.

I was able to listen to the Texans game against the Ravens n my truck thanks to SiriusXM Satellite Radio.  This latest victory easily goes down as one of the greatest in franchise history!  I love the way Bill O'Brien prepares the team each week; his game plan was incredible in this "must-win" scenario.  Whether the team makes the playoffs or not, this season has been a very positive foundation for this new era of Houston NFL football.

O'Brien and Romeo Crennel clearly had the Ravens in a state of oblivion from start to finish.

Merriam-Webster.com defines "oblivion" as:

obliv·i·on

the state of not knowing what is going on around you

As the team prepares to host Jacksonville, we can take pride in knowing that our Texans have played well and even beaten some good teams this season.  It has been a wild ride, and it may not be over if they can close out strong and a few other things fall into place with the Browns and Chiefs doing their part this week.

Go Texans!

Summary of Key Stats

TEXANS RAVENS
First Downs 18 15
Net Rushing Yards 123 33
Net Passing Yards 190 178
Total Net Yards 313 211
Passing ATT-COMP-INT 21-43-1 21-50-3
Third Down Efficiency 7/21 (33%) 4/15 (26%)
Touchdowns 1 2
Field Goals (made/attempted) 6 / 6 0 / 0
Fumbles / Lost 1 / 0 1 / 0
Turnovers (lost) 1 3
Penalties (QTY / Yards) 7 - 69 7 - 56
Sacks (defense) 2 0
Interceptions (defense) 2 1
Fumbles Recovered (defense) 0 0
Time of Possession 34:58 25:02
Red Zone Efficiency 1/7 (14%) 1/1 (100%)
Goal To Go Efficiency 1/3 (33%) 1/1 (100%)
Points From Turnovers 13 0
FINAL SCORE 25 13


Around the AFC South...

Colts (10-5)

Indy was humiliated as the Cowboys blew them out of AT&T Stadium 42-7.  The Colts will host the Titans to close out the regular season.  They are projected to be the 4th seed in the AFC playoffs.

Titans (2-13)

Tennessee fell to Jacksonville 21-13 last Thursday.  They head to Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday to wrap up their 2014 campaign.  It would be great if the Colts would rest starters and the Titans could find a way to win to ensure they don't capture the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.  I'm not sure if they would draft Mariota or Winston since Zach Mettenberger looked good before his injury, but I'd rather they not be in pole position all the same.

Jaguars (3-12)

They found a way to beat the Titans last week, and they will now visit Houston's NRG Stadium for their final tilt of the year against the Texans.

Sick Bay

"I'm a doctor, not a reunion coordinator."

INJURY UPDATES THIS WEEK

The Mothership reported the following:

Wednesday (12/24/14)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE

G Brandon Brooks (Knee/Ankle)
TE Garrett Graham (Ankle)
ILB Mike Mohamed (Concussion)
QB Tom Savage (Knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
Tyson Clabo (Shoulder)
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (Shoulder)
RB Arian Foster (Non-Injury Related)
WR DeAndre Hopkins (Wrist)
CB Kareem Jackson (Back)
WR Andre Johnson (Non-Injury Related)
CB Johnathan Joseph (Ankle)
Xavier Su'a-Filo (Back)

FULL PARTICIPATION
ILB Brian Cushing (Ankle)

Movie Quote (name it):

"You sit on a throne of lies!"

Bravo Zulu - Kareem Jackson

100px-bravo_flag 100px-zulu_flag

(Bravo Zulu is a naval signal, conveyed by flag hoist or vocal, for "Well Done")

Timing is everything, and Jackson's two interceptions were critical in helping Houston to stop Baltimore last Sunday.  With his return to the lineup after missing three games with a knee injury, the defense has allowed an average of 250 yards and 14 points per game.  His rookie contract ends after this season, and it is clear that he has played well enough to get paid as a top cornerback in the NFL.  I hope the Texans find a way to keep him in Houston.

John Harris included this take in his recent article on The Mothership:

I’ve said this a hundred times if I’ve said it once, Jackson is one of the most important assets on this defense. His first interception showed his burst and ability to break on the football and the second one showed his football intelligence as he essentially anticipated and ran the route for Ravens WR Torrey Smith.

Honorable Mention

Randy Bullock

The Mothership announced that:

Randy Bullock was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week following his career-best, franchise-record and NFL season-high six field goals in Houston’s 25-13 win over Baltimore on Sunday.

Bullock scored a franchise-record 19 points and made field goals from 35 yards, 25 yards, 30 yards, 20 yards, 39 yards and 33 yards. The third-year player out of Texas A&M is 30-of-35 on the season, besting his previous career-high of 26 made field goals. The six-field goal effort moved Bullock into third place on the franchise’s single-season made field goals list and third place on the single-season points scored list (127). Bullock also had four touchbacks on eight kickoffs.

J.J. Watt

Houston's NFL MVP candidate led the Texans' defense in what may arguably be their best performance of the season.  Watt is now the Texans' all-time sack leader with 54 in just 63 games!  He finished the day with 8 tackles (3 for a loss), 4 quarterback hits, and 1 sack to end the Ravens' final threat on 4th down late in the game.

HoustonTexans.com reported that the defense was recognized with a game ball by Coach O'Brien:

The Texans defense held a fifth-ranked Ravens run game to just 33 yards rushing. Baltimore averaged 132.6 yards per game, heading into Sunday’s matchup. Houston allowed just 64 yards of total offense through three quarters. Joe Flacco was picked off three times inside Baltimore territory, and the Texans defense scored 13 points off turnovers. With 34 takeways and 123 points off turnovers, Houston’s defense has set franchise records in both categories this season.

John Harris offered this take in his article from HoustonTexans.com:

Prior to a Ravens fourth down attempt, O’Brien took a time-out to give his defense a rest, in particular Watt who was clearly gassed. Watt then sacked Flacco to end the last true Baltimore threat. That gave Watt 17.5 sacks on the season and 54 in his career. To gain some perspective, he has more sacks than the entire Atlanta Falcons defense and half a sack less than the Cincinnati Bengals.

Stories From The Brig

The Texans only scored one touchdown out of seven trips to the red zone, but they still managed to beat a Baltimore team that was doing everything they could to secure a playoff berth.  I'll cut them some slack under those circumstances, plus the fact that Keenum had less than a week to prepare for this game.

The special teams coverage scared most of us into thinking that Joe Marciano had somehow returned to the sidelines, so it would be good to see the team tighten things up before Jacksonville arrives.

Movie Quote II (a/k/a the hint)

"Hey, jack-weed, I get more action in a week than you've had in your entire life. I've got houses in L.A., Paris and Vail. In each one, a 70 inch plasma screen. So I suggest you wipe that stupid smile off your face before I come over there and SMACK it off! You feeling strong, my friend? Call me elf one more time."

Ship's Galley

Let's go below deck and see what's cooking...

This is a great time of year to spend time with family and friends, and what better way than to gather your flock together and crank out some tamales while contemplating the future possibilities for your Houston Texans? If you are looking for an alternative to the traditional pulled-pork spicy variety, you are in for a real treat with these sweet gems that make for a great dessert option.

Sweet Tamales with Raisins and Spices

Total Time: 2 hr 30 min
Prep: 30 min
Cook: 2 hr

Yield:
18 tamales, 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

Banana leaves
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup white raisins
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups masa harina
1 cup whole milk
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Defrost the banana leaves overnight in the refrigerator if frozen, and cut off any hard sections or sections with holes. Cut the leaves into unbroken 12-inch pieces. If the leaves are pliable, proceed with recipe. If not, steam the banana leaves in the top of a double boiler until soft and pliable, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside until ready to assemble the tamales.

In a small saucepan, gently heat the rum. Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with the warm rum. Let the raisins soak and absorb the rum while you prepare the masa filling.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the vegetable shortening until very light, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and half of the masa, and beat until combined. Mix the milk and coconut milk and add alternately with the remaining masa in several batches to the mixture until mixture is the consistency of medium-thick cake batter. Add baking powder, salt and cinnamon, and beat for 30 seconds. Add the melted butter and beat to incorporate, being careful not to overmix.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the masa batter into the center of a banana leaf. Place about 2 teaspoons of plumped raisins in the center. Fold 1 side over the batter, then the other to enclose the filling. Bring the bottom and the top over the filling to create a small package. Tie the tamale with a piece of string, and repeat with the remaining masa batter and filling.

Line a steamer insert with a layer of unused banana leaves. Lay the tamales in the lined steamer, and steam over simmering water until the tamales are cooked through and release easily from the banana leaf wrappers, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

On The Horizon...

The Texans host the Jaguars at NRG this Sunday to close out the regular season schedule.  There is about a 12% chance that Houston can make the playoffs, but they will need help from Cleveland and Kansas City.

Last week's Captain's Log: Game 14 v. Colts