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Incompletions: Texans-Broncos (Thank You, Vance)

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With so much to write and talk about after every game, and not enough time for one person to write about it all, the masthead joins together and writes about another one-possession Houston win.

Houston Texans v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Matt Weston:

It feels like the Texans have missed hundreds of game-tying and game-winning field goals. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one go the other way. I remember Chris Brown fumbling into the end zone and then Kris Brown and Neil Rackers and Randy Bullock kicking a loaf of hamburger meat at the uprights, spraying in every direction to the side of the goal posts, but never directly through them.

But this time, for what feels like the first time, things turned the other way. It was the other team in garish colors kicking sliders that tailed like a comet ignoring their intentions. This time, Houston owes their joy to the opposing head coach, not even to the kicker himself.

Case Keenum’s revenge began with 3:29 left in the fourth quarter. Down by two, he could vanquish his former employer to complete the UDFA practice squad to third string quarterback to improbable starting quarterback fling. Quietly and endlessly, he completed short little passes, converting especially infuriating bite0sized ones to the impossible to cover and even more impossible to tackle Jeff Heuermann, with the rest on swing routes out to the flat.

Denver decided, rather than spread Houston out and attack their lack of cornerback talent downfield, to instead play pick and pop to ensure that Keenum didn’t do one thing—turn the ball over. All the nibbling chewed the clock down to :13 with the ball at Houston’s 32. With one timeout, rather than go for it and try to create the easiest field goal possible, Vance Joseph slid into his shell, ran the ball, lost a yard, and called a timeout, sticking at 51 yards instead of maximizing his team’s probability to win. It was a fireable offense for an overmatched coach leading a 3-6 team the features one of the best pass defenses in football.

Bill O’Brien played his flute and blew Brandon McManus’s kick to the right. The Texans won. 19-17. From 0-3 to 6-3. From 0-3 in one score games to 4-3 in one score games. Riding the run defense, occasional Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt impactful pass rushes, and an offense that does just enough to cover the rest, the Texans won again.

Aside from a surprising obliteration of the Dolphins, the Texans are playing to barely win like they had in previous 9-7 seasons. They’re conservative and cautious. They get a lead, play to 20, and then hold on from there. For now, it’s working against the struggling teams and should continue to do so as the schedule continues to unfold nicely against run-needy teams and the AFC South goes back to being horrendous.

Hopefully, when December rolls around, things change. Wins like this aren’t going to happen forever, and especially not against the teams that will sleepwalk to 20 against a secondary like Houston’s.

Mike Bullock:

I won’t deny that I love the fact Houston keeps getting lucky with the end-of-game wins - being on the other end of that and losing a pile of close games is beyond annoying. While I’d prefer to watch total domination like the Miami game, any win is a good win. And it was great to see Demaryius Thomas fitting right in.

Now here’s to hoping the team can get healthy over the bye week.

Diehard Chris:

I don’t really get the whining about this particular win. As always, there’s a lot of it (and certainly justified in previous “lucky” wins during this streak). But for this game? No.

It’s not like the Texans are vastly superior to the Broncos. The Texans are not as good as their record indicates, and Denver isn’t quite as bad as theirs. I think these teams are actually pretty evenly matched. It was in Denver, one of the toughest places to win in the NFL. Current and former NFL players alike have always said the “thin air” is a real thing they have to fight against, especially in the second half of games. The Broncos’ biggest defensive strength is their pass rush, and the Texans’ biggest offensive weakness is their offensive line. Pair that fact with the reality that the Texans suffered multiple injuries to their offensive line in the second half.

People are upset about how conservative the Texans were in the second half. I mean, the offensive line is bad and it got WORSE due to injury. So yeah, Bill O’Brien ran the ball more. He exposed Deshaun Watson to fewer chances of being pulverized into a pile of dust and goo. Did it hurt the chances of the Texans winning? You’re damn right it did - but it also hurt the chances of THE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF THE HOUSTON TEXANS being crippled. Call it conservative, call it coaching scared, call it whatever the hell you want, I really don’t care. I have a lot of problems with Bill O’Brien, but in this particular instance, I was good with it. Had that final field goal sailed through the uprights, sure, I’d be pissed—but the logic remains the same.

It’s a win, and while not a “pretty” win, it was certainly a GREAT win. Did the Texans get some good luck? Absolutely. But they got a lot of bad luck too—offensive line injuries, a missed extra point, EXTREMELY important defensive pieces who didn’t dress for the game, etc.

I know its just the nature of sports fans to bitch and whine constantly about everything, but for the love of it all, guys—this was an impressive—albeit ugly—win for the Texans headed into a well-placed bye week that should give some key players extra time to get right for the playoff push.

bigfatdrunk:

Nothing really changes with this win. We should expect to win every game from here on out against teams that can’t throw the ball, and the Broncos under TEAM KEENUM certainly fill that bill.

Personally, I would love to see the 2018 Houston Texans play for a competent offensive coordinator. As it stands now, we are replaying the 2015 season.