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The Captain's Log 2017, Game 3: "Galvanized”

Capt Ron chronicles the Texans' recent loss to New England before reviewing the latest from around the AFC South.  Join the conversation at Battle Red Blog.

NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots
“FLASH!”
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

That game against New England just left me so hungry to see our Houston Texans get lined up against the Patriots again and knock them out. We were THAT close!!!

The play designs were so refreshing to see unfold. They enabled Deshaun Watson to put his dynamic skills to work early and often against a defense that was caught off guard most of the game. This was the first game since about 2012 that Houston’s offense was electrifying to witness.

The putrid and biased officiating that allowed the Patriots receivers to push off all day, while the Texans receivers collected laundry, was infuriating as hell. Then there was the play where they flagged defensive holding against New England as they hooked a Houston running back, but then the refs picked up the flag with some lame explanation about the timing of the pass. It was also suspect that no offensive holding was called on the Patriots’ linemen, even though they were draped all over Houston’s pass rush. It’s nearing NBA-level bad, and I hope the league does something to remedy the officiating issues that seem to get worse every season.

O’Brien called a great game for the most part, but he did have a few game management issues:

There was no reason to challenge Tom Brady’s toss to Rob Gronkowski (as he was being sacked) since the Patriots were going to punt anyway. That failed challenge—which should have been ruled in favor of the Texans, as Brady’s thigh was on the ground—cost Houston a timeout that would have been useful later.

The running game was chugging along and chewing the clock VERY effectively late in the game, yet O’Brien decided to change it up for some damn reason.

Sean Pendergast covered it really well in his post-game article:

7:46 remaining in the game, Texans lead 30-28: With the defense having just gotten a three and out on Brady, and the offense picking up two first downs, including three runs on four plays, and burned off nearly three minutes of clock, at his own 41 yard line, O'Brien inexplicably decided to let Watson throw the ball three times in a row. All three fell incomplete and the Texans were forced to punt. The Texans ran seven plays on this drive — on the first four, they burned 2:42; on the last three, they burned 0:14. (Amazingly, the Texans defense would get another three and out on the next series.)

2:34 remaining in the game, Texans lead 30-28: On 3rd and 1 at the New England 18 yard line, O'Brien runs Lamar Miller up the middle and he is predictably stuffed for no gain. Can we get a law passed that Miller never touch the ball on 3rd and short? Conversion here makes it almost impossible for the Patriots to win the game, given their timeout situation and a fresh set of downs for the Texans.

I have no idea why O’Brien insists on sending Lamar Miller up the middle when he has D’Onte Foreman available. Foreman proved he could to do it better just a few minutes earlier in the game. O’Brien also has a mobile quarterback in Watson who can take it outside and pick up a yard when the defense has eleventy-thousand players stacking the box.

I’m not even going to touch the brain-fart issues of calling timeout at the end of the game, because this tilt never should have reached that point. You get the first down in the play above with Foreman or Watson, and then you close out this game with a victory.

There are no moral victories in the NFL. However, the Texans can come away from this game knowing they can beat the best team in the NFL, and I think they were positively galvanized by this game. Houston can build off of this and take on anyone in the league with confidence. Oh, and they have their franchise quarterback on the roster!

GO TEXANS!

Summary of Key Stats (Game 3):

Two of the top five NFL passes this week occurred in this game:

5. Deshaun Watson

4. Case Keenum - Oh. Hey there, Case!

3. Dak Prescott

2. Drew Brees

1. Tom Brady

Around the AFC South...

The Titans (2-1)

Tennessee survived a 33-27 tilt against the Seahawks (1-2) in Nashville. They will face the Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday.

The Jaguars (2-1)

Jacksonville destroyed the Ravens (2-1) in 44-7 beatdown in London. They head to New York to play the Jets (1-2).

The Colts (1-2)

Indy defended their home turf by edging out the Browns (0-3) with a final score of 31-28. The Colts will next fly to Seattle (1-2) to appear on Sunday Night Football.

Sick Bay

"I'm a doctor, not an offensive pass interference interpreter!"

INJURY STATUS:

WR – Will Fuller (collarbone): Returned to practice.

RB – Alfred Blue (ankle): Questionable.

CB – Kevin Johnson (knee): Out 4-6 weeks.

INJURED RESERVE:

TE – C.J. Fiedorowicz (concussion)

Movie Quote (name it):

“I had another Liam Neeson nightmare. I kidnapped his daughter and he just wasn't having it. They made three of those movies. At some point you have to wonder if he's just a bad parent.”

Bravo Zulu – Deshaun Watson & Jadeveon Clowney

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

Houston Texans v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

WATSON

Houston FINALLY has an elite weapon at quarterback, and it feels incredible! The play designs really leveraged Watson’s abilities, and his improvisations, instincts, and athleticism extended thrilling plays. I didn’t think we would see this in just his second start on the road against the Super Bowl champions. The future is incredibly bright!

Watson ended the day 22 of 33 (66.7%) for 301 yards (9.1 avg), 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions (including the game-ending toss in desperation), and 41 yards rushing on 9 attempts (5.1 avg).

TEASER ALERT: Check back here at Battle Red Blog on Wednesday for an interesting article about Watson’s journey to the NFL as compared to: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck.

Houston Texans v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

CLOWNEY

90 had an amazing day on defense. He grabbed a pick (ruled fumble) and returned it for a touchdown after coming close to doing the same thing last week. He put constant pressure on Tom Brady all day. The one-two punch of Watt & Clowney, finally, is a thing of beauty. Clowney finished the day with 2 sacks, 6 tackles, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown.

Well done, gentlemen!!

Stories From The Brig:

  • The Texans’ entire defensive secondary will spend time in irons after allowing receivers to run wide open most of the day.

(credit to Michael Hurley on these images)

  • Special teams coverage is just atrocious. I wonder how many consecutive weeks this bullet will be a fixture in The Brig?
  • Rick Smith, for enabling THIS group of players as the defensive backs on the roster.

On that note, here’s the latest on A.J. Bouye’s performance in 2017:

  • NFL officiating is also getting called out for inconsistent (biased, even) calls and non-calls in this game. But what does it matter? The league makes no effort to discuss their efforts to improve these obvious issues. Coaches blow up, announcers point out the obvious (Dan Fouts was chuckling and pointing it out live as Patriots’ receivers pushed off and caught passes), fans erupt in anger, and then it all just goes into an abyss as the days click away toward the next game.

Movie Quote II (a/k/a “The Hint)

“Superhero landing. She's gonna do a superhero landing. Wait for it. Whoo! Superhero landing! You know, that's really hard on your knees.”

Ship's Galley

I’m usually at odds with my wife regarding the use of a crock pot to produce any meal, especially dinner. I guess it just seems too easy. A lot of the food ends up being mushy or boring, or mushy AND boring, when compared to the flamboyance and excitement of open-flame grilling. I have to make at least one exception to this point of view with the following recipe; it truly did blow my socks off. My daughter found this and asked us to give it a shot, and it will now be added to our regular rotation of meals every couple of months.

The flavor, texture, and balance were really fantastic. It would also be easy to do in advance when entertaining others and/or to travel to someone’s tailgating event.

“Slow-Cooker Pork Chops with Apple-Cherry Stuffing”

Ingredients

1 package (6 ounces) Betty Crocker™ Homestyle Stuffing turkey flavor.

2 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 cup).

1 medium tart cooking apple, peeled and chopped (1 cup).

1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup).

1 cup dried cherries.

14 cup butter or margarine, melted.

1 cup Progresso™ chicken broth (from 32-ounce carton).

6 pork boneless loin chops, about 1/2 inch thick.

Steps

  • Spray inside of 4-5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
  • Mix all ingredients except pork. Place half of the stuffing mixture in slow cooker; top with pork. Spoon remaining stuffing mixture over pork.
  • Cover and cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours or until pork is tender. Note: This recipe was tested in slow cookers with heating elements in the side and bottom of the cooker, not in cookers that stand only on a heated base. For slow cookers with just a heated base, follow the manufacturer’s directions for layering ingredients and choosing a temperature.

On The Horizon...

The Titans are coming to NRG Stadium for a noon kickoff on Sunday. The Texans need to shake off the close loss in New England and focus on winning this game against a division opponent. This is a must-win game for Houston to avoid starting 0-2 in the AFC South and 1-3 overall.

GO TEXANS!