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The Captain's Log 2015, Game 9: "Big Game Hunters" (Texans v. Bengals)

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Capt Ron chronicles the Texans' stunning upset against Cincinnati and reviews the latest from around the AFC South. Join the conversation at Battle Red Blog.

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Big Game Hunters!
Big Game Hunters!
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

What a wild Monday Night Football game!  This Texans team came out of the bye week like they were shot out of a cannon.  The energy throughout the game was incredible!  Houston won under the bright lights on the national stage and handed the Bengals their first loss of the season.  They need to build on this to muscle through the rest of the season and take the division.

Let's get into the numbers...

Summary of Key Stats

TEXANS BENGALS
First Downs 16 16
Net Rushing Yards 82 73
Net Passing Yards 174 183
Total Net Yards 256 256
Passing ATT-COMP-TD-INT 12/22-0-1 (Hoyer) 22/38-0-1
Passing ATT-COMP-TD-INT 5/11-69-1-0 (Yates)
Third Down Efficiency 5/15 (33%) 4/14 (28%)
Touchdowns 1 0
Field Goals (made/attempted) 1 / 1 2 / 2
Extra Points  (made/attempted) 1 / 1 0 / 0
Kicking  (made/attempted) 1 / 1 0 / 0
Two Point Conversions  (made/attempted) 0 / 0 0 / 0
Fumbles / Lost 0 / 0 2 / 1
Turnovers (lost) 1 2
Penalties (QTY / Yards) 5 - 54 9 - 70
Sacks (defense) 3 3
Interceptions (defense) 1 1
Fumbles Recovered (defense) 1 0
Time of Possession 28:34 31:26
Red Zone Efficiency 0/1 (0%) 0/1 (0%)
Goal To Go Efficiency 0/1 (0%) 0/0 (0%)
Points From Turnovers 0 0
FINAL SCORE 10 6

Around the AFC South...

The Colts (4-5)

In the time since we last reviewed the AFC South, the Colts handed the undefeated Denver Broncos (now 7-2) their first loss of the year in a 27-24 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium.  They just wrapped up their bye week, and next head on the road to face the Atlanta Falcons (6-3), who are on a two-game losing streak of their own.  Indianapolis will have to do it without Andrew Luck, who is out with a lacerated kidney.

The Jaguars (3-6)

During the Texans' bye week, Jacksonville fell to the New York Jets (5-4) in a 28-23 loss.  This week, the Jags edged the Ravens (2-7) in a nail-biter 22-20 victory.  Jacksonville has the easiest remaining schedule in the entire league, and they will be looking to improve upon their third-place position in the AFC South as they host Tennessee (2-7) on November 19th for Thursday Night Football.

The Titans (2-7)

They beat the Saints (4-6) in New Orleans in Week 9, and then fell 27-10 to the undefeated Panthers (9-0) at home in Tennessee.  This marks the tenth consecutive home loss for the Titans.  They next head to Jacksonville for what may end up as the lowest viewing audience in Thursday Night Football history.

Sick Bay

"I'm a doctor, not a safari guide."

INJURY STATUS v. COLTS

CB - Kareem Jackson: Ankle - Inactive.

OLB - Jadeveon Clowney: Back - Inactive.

QB - Brian Hoyer left the game in the third quarter with a concussion, and he is still working through the league's protocol.  As of today, it is looking unlikely that he will be able to play this Sunday against the Jets.

Movie Quote (name it):

"If it bleeds, we can kill it."

Bravo Zulu - Benardrick McKinney

100px-bravo_flag 100px-zulu_flag

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

The rookie inside linebacker led the team with 9 tackles and managed to do something that this defense has struggled with most of the year: he broke up a screen for a loss at a key point in the game.  He also had success blowing up a screen in the recent game against the Panthers; he is quickly becoming Houston's "screen buster."  McKinney also helped to limit TE Tyler Eifert to 3 receptions for 26 yards.

Honorable Mention

Brian Cushing was flying all over the field making plays and looks more like he did in his "All Pro" peak of a few years ago.  He was the team's player of the game and was close to receiving the BZ recognition this week.

Charles James finished the game with the third-most tackles (6) on the team and nearly had an interception that would have surely been returned for a touchdown.  He is juicing this team with tons of energy and had a huge tackle for a loss on Jeremy Hill.  I'm so glad this player is back with Houston!

Christian Covington notched his first career sack in the NFL and played outstanding defense throughout the game.

Kevin Johnson continues to develop quickly into one of the best corners in the league and was recognized as the "Gruden Grinder" of the game for shaking off a few early mistakes and shutting down his side of the field with several key pass-breakups.

T.J. Yates stepped in for an injured Brian Hoyer (concussion), and hit DeAndre Hopkins for the game's only touchdown.  He also found Ryan Griffin on a couple of third down conversions to move the chains.  Yates is 3-0 against the Bengals in his career!

The funniest thing you may read all week is this quote from John Harris' article on The Mothership:

In fact, after the game, someone went to the Cincinnati Bengals Wikipedia page and changed the owner of the Bengals to… T.J. Yates.

That. Is. Gold!

Stories From The Brig

The running game continues to struggle, and it needs to be the primary focus for improvement now that the defense and special teams have performed significantly better in the last couple of games.  The players along the offensive line need more stability after spending most of the season shuffling around to different roles.  The running backs need better vision and agility to find the open lanes.  Look at this example with Alfred Blue:

Let's get that running game going!

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

"Get to the Chopper!"

Liberty Call!

Here's a worthy shout-out to "Debbie the Texan" @debbiethetexan, who has been on the road for every Texans away game this season.  That's a true fan right there!

This Bengals fan is a true hero!  He helped raise money to pay for a young Texans fan to fly to Cincinnati and attend the game.

Ship's Galley

Let's check in with the mess hall and see what's cooking...

James Martin: Beef and Merlot Pie

"The quintessential country-pub pie!  Rich, tender, and aromatic with an inviting layer of crisp puff pastry glazed with egg yolk. Breaking through reveals slow-cooked beef with red onion and shallots in a full-bodied Merlot and redcurrant jelly gravy. It's so good, it doesn't need much more, so we serve with a medley of buttered peas, broad beans and green beans, and golden seasoned chips."

The cool weather is teasing, and hearty dishes are a wonderful way to warm up friends and family.  I stumbled upon a great meal during a visit to London.  It was served by an English Inn that has been around for more than 700 years, and the name is Ye Olde Six Bells in Horley.  The chef responsible for the recipe is James Martin, a local celebrity in the London area.

After a bit of research, I found the recipe and have successfully recreated it several times.  It is easily in my top-5 of all-time favorite meals, and I highly recommend you add this to your "must try" list.  If you were looking for an alternative to a traditional turkey meal next week, THIS is it!  If you were hoping to find another "comfort food" option for those cold and dreary days of winter, THIS is it!

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 lb 4oz braising steak cut into 2-inch cubes

1 onion, finely diced

9 oz chestnut mushrooms, cut into four pieces

8 small whole round shallots, peeled

14oz carrots, peeled and cut into three

4 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

4 tbsp tomato purée

18 fl oz Merlot (I prefer to use Markham Merlot for this dish.)

10½ fl oz hot reduced beef stock

1lb 2oz ready made puff pastry

1 free-range egg, beaten

PREPARATION

1.  For the pie, heat a casserole or a large ovenproof pan over a high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the steak pieces in batches and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown on all sides, stirring regularly. Remove the cooked steak from the dish, transfer to a warm plate and set aside. Repeat the process with the remaining steak pieces, then set aside.

2.  Add the onion, mushrooms, whole shallots and carrots to the emptied casserole and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until just softened.

3.  Add the thyme, bay leaves and tomato purée and stir well to combine.

4.  Add the wine and stir well, scraping any sediment up from the bottom of the casserole using a wooden spoon.

5.  Return the browned steak pieces to the casserole, add the hot stock, stir well and bring the mixture to the boil. Turn down the heat, place a lid on the casserole and cook for 1½ hours, or until the beef is tender and the gravy has thickened.

6.  Once cooked, remove the pie filling from the dish and set aside to cool.

7.  Preheat the oven to 425F.  Place the beef and gravy mixture in a round ovenproof dish.

9.  Roll out the pastry to 1/4-inch thickness and cut the pastry into a circle slightly bigger than the pie dish.

10.  Brush a little water around the rim of the pie dish, and then place the pastry over the filling and press the edges to seal the pastry to the dish.

11.  Brush the pie with a little beaten egg, then place the pie in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is pale golden-brown and has risen.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

1.  I seasoned the raw beef lightly with Montreal Steak Seasoning and lightly coated the pieces with cornstarch to provide a good texture during the browning process.  This was a very good modification to the recipe.

2.  I like to use individually sized ramekins so that each person can enjoy the fun of bursting the crispy brown crust and savoring the rich flavored treasure inside.

3.  You can make these ahead of time (up to step #10) and place in the refrigerator for up to a day or two wrapped in plastic to keep fresh.  When ready, follow step #11 and serve within 30 minutes to 1 hour of baking.

On The Horizon...

Houston will host the New York Jets at noon (CST) this Sunday.  QB Ryan Fitzpatrick just had a procedure to repair a thumb ligament in his non-throwing hand, and he might be back in the starting lineup to face a Texans team he played for last year.

GO TEXANS!

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