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Incompletions: Texans v. Patriots (The Fake Fake Punt)

With so much to write and talk about after every game, one person isn’t enough to write about it all. The Masthead joins together and writes about the Texans turning a win into a loss.

NFL: New England Patriots at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

MATT WESTON:

Numerous things have to go right for this version of the Texans to win a football game. Fortune must rain upon thee. Rabbits feet and four leaves. Mirthful, and blessed, Houston received God’s blessings to go up 22-9. New England’s defensive backs bounced off tackle attempts. Damien Harris fumbled into the endzone. Lonnie Johnson Jr. caught a pass that was thrown too far inside. Davis Mills hit a fleaflicker. Rather than sail with seven sails, dry up the clock, and win the field position battle, the Texans pried their horseshoes off.

Punting the ball on 4th and 2 with 10:26 left from their own 36 would have been too easy, too simple. Question everything. Evaluate the process. Innovate, innovate, innovate. “What if we have been punting wrong this entire time?” said Nick Caserio’s electric blue sweater vest. Cameron Johnston crawled down from the punt formation, motioned his gunner over, who landed softly in the upback position. During this lengthy carousel of movement, the punt returner crawled down into the box, making the fake obsolete. Johnston ejected backwards to punt, and tied across from him, was the punt returner retreating backward. It’s a silent movie mirror bit.

Johnston wasn’t able to retreat back to his rightful spot when he punts because of the motion. Ten yards separated him and the ball. Eight yards were between him and his blockers. As is typical on a punt, the Patriots front drove the protection backwards. No one broke free. The blocking was fine. But, because of this ridiculous motion, Johnston was punting with his teammate directly in front of his foot. Detonation. Explosion. Dumbassery in its finest form. The Texans faked a fake punt and became the boy who blocked his own shot.

I screeched. I cackled. I’m still laughing right now, and I’ll be laughing about this for the rest of my life. The punt is one of the simplest plays in football. You block for two seconds, the guy kicks it, and then the player gets tackled. Rather than keep it simple with a lead, Houston tried to be the smartest guy in the room, even though they have a 65 IQ.

Johnston’s foot didn’t meet the ball. It met the side of a sarcophagus, cracked open and squelching, esoteric symbols, a green and garish curse was unleashed upon the Houston Texans football team. The punt led to an easy field goal. They wasted a time out to ponder kicking a 56 yard field goal, after Kai’imi Fairbairn missed two extra points, only to kick said field goal, for Fairbairn to miss, because he can’t make kicks over 50 yards. This led to another New England touchdown. Houston opted to not let New England score a touchdown late in the game, and without that extra timeout, Davis Mills was given :8 seconds to tie the game. Spoiler—he didn’t.

From that point forward, the Patriots outscored the Texans 16-0. They ran 33 plays for 188 yards. Houston ran 17 plays for 61 yards, including their final drive. The game changed by the most heinous, the dumbest, the most ridiculous special teams play call you’ve ever seen. This spurned all the horrors that followed.

Nick Caserio loves to talk process. Process, process, process. This is the perfect example of poor process. Stupid motion, stupid playcall (even if they went for it and got it), and this time the process met the results. A terrible process created a hilarious result.

Laremy Tunsil’s nosering, Desmond King outside cornerback, David Culley’s tongue, Nick Caserio’s sweater vest, Charles Omenihu liking tweets regarding his playing time, Tytus Howard left guard, empty stadium, Cal McNair’s bubble T hat, that football feeling. The Houston Texans are an awful football team with Davis Mills at quarterback, and will continue to be so, and by the time Tyrod Taylor comes back, they maybe 1-7., when they can merely be a below average football team. These are the symbols that depict this. Saying it in a way better than words themselves can. Yet, out of all of them, nothing stands as strong, nothing raises higher, than the fake-fake punt.

IIIIII, FEEL SO ALIVE, SO ALIVE, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME:

BIGFATDRUNK:

I don’t like to brag (oh, who am I kidding, I love to brag!), but I nailed this game perfectly: process won this game for the Texans.

From owner Cal McNair to Jack Easterby to Nick Caserio to David Culley, the Texans have talked repeatedly about trusting and respecting the process, and if you had any lingering doubts about it, you should feel much shame.

The Texans are a well-oiled, organized, effective, and most importantly, efficient machine. There are never any doubts or hesitations, just sound planning and decision making from the opening kickoff to the final bell. And that’s just what we see on the field! Imagine the process in the precious behind the scenes work. Wait a minute. I need a moment.

/breathes

Sorry, it got a little hot and bothered all up in here.

We play the poor, pathetic Colts next week. I cannot wait for this inevitable beatdown.

AT LEAST ALABAMMER LOST:

L4BLITZER:

Oh, the dumbness that was this game. A tale of two halves, or at least a half and a little bit more. After the pasting the Texans got in Buffalo, there was every right to expect that the Texans would continue to struggle to score points, especially with the all-mighty Belichick coming to town. Instead, the team scored on all of its significant drives in the first half. Got a bit too smart for themselves on the goal line near the end of the first half, but for this team, points are points. New England was moving the ball at times, but the Texans mitigated their efforts. After the 1st drive interception to start the second half, the Texans went up on a well-executed trick play, and found themselves with a 22-9 lead. Things were looking good for them.

However, the rest of the second half happened, and in the tradition of many bad things, it happened in threes. The “WTF” fake punt that turned into a punt, only for that punt to be blocked/hit the back of a Texans player and travel no yards was the first, leading to a New England field goal.

The second was the decision to kick a 56-yard field goal on a 4th and 4, only to take a timeout, to just line right back up and kick that field goal, only for it to miss. This set up a short field and the NE game-tying touchdown.

Then, on the final drive, the Texans had a 3rd and 18, forcing a NE incompletion that would have given the Texans the ball back with time to drive for the winning score. Instead, a dumb, dumb, dumb roughing the passer penalty negated all of that, giving New England new life, and setting up the buffoonery that occurred along the goal line.

Perhaps Culley should have declined the penalty and accepted the touchdown, giving the team just under two minutes to try and score the matching touchdown. However, given the overall shakiness of the kickers this game, I can sort of understand rolling the dice. However, the other ills, which were far worse, set up that final one. With that second half performance, we once again saw why many picked this team to finish among the bottom-feeders in this league, and why few were beating down the door to hire Culley. Only the glorious dumpster fire that is Urban Meyer and the Jaguars gives the Texans any sense of hope/positivity that they aren’t the worst of the worst.

I guess you could look at this game as entertaining and it was good to see Mills bounce back from perhaps the worst game in recent memory for any quarterback. Do I expect him to continue this pace? Probably not, but it does offer some semblance that he could be serviceable for this season. However, if I was Fairbairn, I might want to update my LinkedIn profile. He left five points on the field and shanked a kick out of bounds. The defense forced two turnovers, but if they can’t get turnovers, teams will move the ball on them at will. NE is not a great team, but made fewer overall mistakes, and Belichick, whatever you may think of his capabilities sans Brady, at least avoided making the bone-headed moves that the Texans did not.

Thus, the long 2021 season will continue. Yet, the team still remains in 2nd place, pending the Monday Night Game. They play Indy next week in a game that might actually decide 2nd in the AFC South. What that says about the state of the Colts and the AFC South, I’ll let you read between the lines.

JACK EASTERBY DOES A LOT OF IMPORTANT THINGS:

EVAN WILLSMORE:

A lot of positives and a lot of negatives with this one. Not the game I was expecting at all, but still ended up being a loss. Mills had a complete 180 compared to last week, giving us one of the best quarterback performances this Sunday.

Chris Moore and Antony Auclair were two names I had completely forgotten about, but it kind of goes to show you the position the Texans are in with their roster. Even Chris Conley got in on some action, a guy that seemed to be pretty low on the depth chart (or hadn’t been targeted too much previously).

The defense racked up plenty of tackles, while also recording a sack and interception. What it really came down to was special teams, as Ka’imi Fairbairn’s bad day (two missed extra points and one missed field goal) ultimately cost them the game.

Maybe it was a bad day for kickers around the league (just take a look at the Packers-Bengals game), but it’s still not an excuse. The Texans played too well to lose given the circumstances, and being 1-4 is a lot farther from .500 than 2-3.

56% OF THE TIME, IT WORKS:

MIKE BULLOCK:

Hard to believe Houston was one “worst day of Ka’imi Fairbairn’s career” from defeating the Patriots the week after the biggest beat down in franchise history. While Davis Mills looked much better, now notching his name in the Patriots’ history books as one of only two rookies to toss three touchdowns on a Bill Belichick led team, he’s still not ready for prime time.

Tangent: It’s a crime that Tim Kelly didn’t run this offense from Deshaun Watson day one... but, no one ever accused Bill O’Brien of knowing when to get out of his own way. Seeing what he can do this with the mess of a roster, imagine what he could have done back when Houston had talent on the roster.

If the swirling rumors are true and Houston brass is so enamored with Mills right now that they might shy away from a quarterback in the upcoming 2022 first round, all we can do is continue to bury our collective heads in the sand. Time to play the long game of waiting out Cal McNair, Jack Easterby and whatever nonsense they’re perpetrating on the American sports world. It can’t last forever, can it?

In the meantime, all hail Chris Moore. His pro career may never look better than it does today, so hopefully he basks in every earned moment of glory before he’s once again relegated to the who’s who of backup NFL wide receivers.

DAVID CULLEY IS DEFINITELY JOLLY: