Texans vs. Chiefs - From Super Bowl Dream to Season Ending Nightmare

I have to apologize for being a little late getting this post out. After what may be the worst 24 hours in Houston sports fans' history, I had to deal with writing about the second half of that ordeal first.....

But now its time to deal with the one game debacle that was the Texans' 51-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Just some random thoughts......

  • If you were going to draw up a blueprint for how the Texans needed to start a game against a high powered offense like the Chiefs, you could not do much better than the start of this game. A 6 play, 75 yard drive punctuated by a 54 yard "how did he get that open" Kenny Stills - for the first TD the starters have scored in a first drive this season. A blocked punt by Barkevious Mingo led to a TD return by Lonnie Johnson and a muffed punt by Tyreek Hill led to a Deshaun Watson to Darren Fells TD and a 21-0 lead. NOTE: The Texans had not scored more than 10 pts (Bucs) in any first quarter this season and had not scored more than 20 pts (KC and ATL) in any quarter this season. You tack on the early FG in the 2nd quarter and this could not be crafted any better for the Texans.
  • Around this time you could not blame folks for Super Bowl dreaming. If they could hold on to a measly 24 point lead and then beat Tennessee, who they had beaten in the week 15 matchup (that counted) they would be off to their first SB. Heck if they hung on they would be off to their first AFC championship game. Of course, also at this time there were a fair amount of us who were worried about the Chiefs coming back in this game. By that I mean coming back eventually by the end of the game, not like the Roadrunner passing Wiley Coyote. (Though in truth we had noticed the Texans propensity to treat every lead like a bad gambler, who must unload winnings the moment they touch their fingers. The way they let the Bucs score 14 pts in the last two minutes of the first half comes to mind.)
  • Anyways - the Texans who had not given up more than 17 points in one quarter this season (Note it was the Chiefs and the Broncos who did that), blew through this lead faster than Megan Markle going through Royal money at the Galleria. But from the moment Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked off (unfortunately not out of the end zone) with a 24 point lead to the moment the Chiefs scored their 4th TD and 28th point only 10 minutes and 10 seconds of game time elapsed. And the Chiefs only possessed the ball for less than 5 minutes of those 10 minutes. That's insane.
  • Special teams are not that special..... On the Chiefs side - their special teams practically handed the Texans TDs #2 and #3 with the punt block and punt muff. The punt muff by Tyreek Hill "reek"ed of desperation as Hill had only received one punt all season, way back in week #1. However, the Texans special teams, not to be outdone, were helpful to the Chiefs in their first 3 TDs. The aforementioned kickoff was returned 58 yards by Mercole Hardman to set up a 2 play/42 yard lightning strike drive by the Chiefs. A brain dead decision to fake a punt on their own 31 yard line on 4th and 4, led to a 4 play/33 yard TD to cut the lead to 24-14 and to tighten the noose on the choking Texans. The third TD was set up by DeAndre Carter fumble on a kickoff return that was brought back to the 6 yard line and then shoved into the end zone in three quick downs. Then the Chiefs managed to move the ball 90 yards in about 2 minutes without the Texans special team's assistance to take a 28-24 half time lead.
  • After those four TDs on four consecutive possessions in the first half, the Chiefs then scored a TD on their next possession in the second half and then the next one and then the next one, until getting bored and settling for a FG and finally a punt when they did not care anymore. The Texans defense was left with a number of what-ifs, but one of the what-ifs is what would have happened if the Chiefs had not dropped four perfect passes on their first three possessions of the game. Could they have actually scored TDs on 10 straight possessions instead of the 7 that they did? OK, maybe they would not have had time for 7 TDs in the first half if those first 3 possessions had continued, but it would be true to say that the Texans never stopped the Chiefs on their own (without the help of drops) until there were four minutes left in the game.
  • There were weird stats coming out of this game that did not match the eye test. The Texans outgained the Chiefs 442 to 434 yards. There was one turnover for both teams. The Texans had an approx. 35 to 25 minute lead in time of possession. The Chiefs only converted 2 of 8 3rd down possessions (though of course that means the Texans only forced them to 3rd down 8 times).
  • On the other side - Watson was sacked 5 times compared to only once for Mahomes. The Texans were 1 for 5 on 4th down attempts. The Texans had 7 penalties for 87 yards, while the Chiefs only had 4 penalties for 37 yards.
So what are the positives going forward....
  • The Texans could offer their multi-tasking OC/HC/GM BOB to the Astros, who need an M/GM. No wait - think about this. One of BOB's biggest weaknesses is clock management. Why not send him to a sport that has no clock? He would have minutes to make decisions on who to send out for the next inning. If he has trouble making a decision on replacing a pitcher, just have the current pitcher throw over to first place a few times, even if there is no one there. There are all sorts of synergies in this move. And his assistant coaches could give him a fake microphone to use, while they are actually signaling in what they want the Astros to do.
  • Deshaun Watson will return and he will likely improve, because he will work on it, unlike the coaching staff that will say it is all on them and then do the same damn thing every damn game.
  • If.......they can just keep Will Fuller on the field, they have what seems like the most dangerous receiving triplets around in DeAndre Hopkins, Kenny Stills and Fuller
  • The Texans have quite a bit of cap room - Spotrac shows it as $60 MM right now - so they do have some cash to chase a few players that might help. (Just don't tell the GM how much he has or he might blow it all on a long snapper)
  • Even though the Texans do not have their 1st round pick - with compensatory picks they are estimated to have 8 picks (1-2nd, 2-3rd, 2-4th, 1-5th, 2-7th rounders). They could fill a few holes with that too.
Even more other thoughts:
  • I'm not saying they have to keep Romeo Crennel, but replacing him without raising the level of both the defensive line and the defensive backfield is not going to improve this team
  • Mahomes passed 35 times, was sacked once and hit only three times. JJ Watt looked like he had left his legs back at NRG and Whitney again just got nowhere. This team needs a Frank Clark clone, who had three sacks and 4 QB hits
  • Am I the only one who watched in morbid fascination at how the Texans could not cover TE Travis Kelce (10 catches/134 yds/ 3TDs)? I kept yelling at the TV "No, no, no - don't leave him to stand there all alone like he has the bubonic plague!! Double team him but don't let us get Gronked by him!"
  • I was a bit sad to see the special team failures in this game, because frankly the improvement in the special teams under Brad Seeley has been one of the better stories of the Texan's season. They just had a bad day (made worse by the decision to go for it on the fake punt where nobody blocked for Justin Reid on).
  • You know how they say that the best QBs have that special little alarm that goes off in their heads to tell them to release the ball? Well Coach BOB needs one of those to get his plays out there and his personnel out there and to not look wishy washy and unsure. Of course it would help if he did not have to wear all these caps at one time. Rumor has it he will be the new equipment manager next season, too.
Bottom line it was an enjoyable season with more ups than downs. Unfortunately in the last game of the season, they had a solid up followed by a colossal down. Well there is always next year.