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Incompletions: Texans-Colts (Thanks, Frank!)

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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 the dumbest football game ever.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Matt Weston:

Throughout the lifetime of this franchise, a few things have been steady throughout. Great individual talent, terrible teams, an inability to beat the New England Patriots, and most of all, some truly stupid football games. There have been so many. There was that win over the Titans in 2013 when Randy Bullock attempted a game tying field goal like four separate times before nailing a 46-yarder to force overtime. Last year Jeff Allen committed three false starts in a row. Tom Savage converted a miraculous fourth down only to throw an interception on the very next play. There was a Battle Red Monday Night Football Baltimore pick-six. Houston once lost in Indy to Curtis Painter despite being a playoff team. And during all these dumb times, the Texans were usually the team sitting in the corner with the dunce cap on. This time, they were saved by Indianapolis’s own stupidity.

This time, the Colts faced 4th and 4 from their own 43 yard line with 24 seconds left in overtime. Instead of pinning Houston deep and walking away neither being a winner or a loser, Frank Reich went for it. They attempted what had worked all game—a quick throw to whoever was matched up against Johnathan Joseph. This time, it finally didn’t work. Joseph was playing press man, came downhill on the throw, and the ball skipped across the creek. The Texans needed eight yards to find field goal range. They instead picked up 24. Spiked it. Then watched while Ka’imi Fairbirn knocked down his 37 yard free throw. Game over. Houston wins.

The win shouldn’t take away from the atrocious decisions made at the end of this one by Bill O’Brien. He gave this game away, and luckily for him, it was handed it back to him by Frank Reich. With a 28-10 second half lead, O’Brien reverted back to his old ways following Watson’s interception. He kept running the ball up the middle, stopped utilizing Deshaun Watson as a runner, kept Watson passing from the shotgun in obvious third down situations. That, plus negative plays and penalties, stopped the offense. Each drive was a succession of promising plays ruined with a run-run-pass-punt succession. Houston managed one field goal from that point on.

At the end of the game, O’Brien wasted a timeout during the two point conversion hoopla. He chose to run a draw with Alfred Blue despite having success throwing the ball, one of the best receivers in football, and :45 seconds to play with. The clock kept flowing like a faucet after Blue’s failed run. The Texans scurried. Watson found DeAndre Hopkins for 30 yards. A 59 yard field goal attempt didn’t stand a chance. That timeout and precious seconds wasted by a Blue run sure would have been helpful there. It was the same poor decision making as last week when O’Brien wasted a timeout on a terrible challenge and ran out of time at the end of the half, forcing Houston to settle for three points. In overtime, O’Brien once again called a silly screen pass to try and get easy yards for an easier field goal rather than attack the defense.

Houston is 1-3, and they are lucky to be 1-3. It was inexcusable for this game to be this dumb and come down to this. For a 4th and 6 call to create a win after being up 28-10 against a below average team is insane. The decisions made for this to happen were abhorrent. Most of this will be forgotten. This is what happens when you win games. This is what happened from 2014 to 2016.

We Demand To Be Taken Seriously.

Luke Beggs:

Kitten everything.

The Texans didn’t win. The Colts lost.

Kenneth:

It’s crazy how sporadic this team looks. Just plain inconsistent. From the play calling to the mistakes, there are so many easy things to adjust that competent professionals should avoid. Freaking line up onsides, watch the football, and don’t hold onto a player while they are running by you. If they can just please put together a competent game, I would say that is a step in the right direction. C’mon. I know they won but everyone knows that we should have tied.

Is that the closest the Texans have ever come to a tie?

What Is An Oiler?

Mike Bullock:

Looking at it from a business POV, it’s nothing short of gross mismanagement. Bring in a franchise QB and expect him to run for his life with little to no blocking. Run the same variation of a misdirection play multiple times in a row that requires complex set-up behind a line that can’t even prevent false starting. Manage the clock poorly. Only excel due to individual efforts that work in spite of, not due to, the overall game management.

If Houston had this hard of a time getting their first win in the fourth week of the season when they had the easiest schedule in the league, the rest of 2018 is going to be ugly, and there won’t be any games in early 2019.

Thankfully, we got to see some exciting moments from J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, DeShaun Watson, Will Fuller V and the debut of Keke Coutee. Unfortunately, other than facing the Colts again in December, there are no more “winnable” games on the schedule.

Diehard Chris:

A win is a win is a win.

HowEVAH - if T.Y. Hilton doesn’t come out of this game (twice), the Texans almost certainly would have lost. The way the Texans defended him was a JOKE, especially considering his history of torching Houston. THAT was their answer for Hilton? A massive cushion that allowed the Colts to make 15+ yard completions nearly at will? A defense that rolled over and died on 3rd & 10+ yards over and over? Just awful.

Why did Bill O’Brien decide to start the 2018 season’s offense in game four? Sure, it’s great that the offense got going but...why like this? Every sports journalist in Houston should be ALL OVER Bill O’Brien this week, asking him why he went back to what works four weeks into the season after essentially putting his team in an 0-3 hole?

Let’s also call what happened in overtime what it is. Bill O’Brien played for a tie late in overtime. At 0-3...he played for a tie. This is absolute lunacy. I, like many others, joined the chorus of folks on Twitter clowning Frank Reich for going for it on 4th and 4 and essentially handing the Texans a chance at a win. Once I thought about it only slightly more, I realized Reich did that because he understands that a tie is basically a loss when you’re 1-2. In the Texans case, when O’Brien played for the tie, the Texans were 0-3, yet O’Brien didn’t see fit to go for the win. Or he didn’t trust his offense... or, or, or. It doesn’t really matter.

Sure, it was VERY satisfying to see both Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt wrecking in the same game. The excitement of Keke Coutee certainly should not be ignored. Deshaun Watson looking calmer and more comfortable is great. BUT you have to also call into question how the Texans gave up a huge lead and had to rely on a questionable (but I think correct) move by the opposing head coach to get out of Indy with a W.

It just all seemed much, much more difficult than it should have been. ALL OF THAT SAID - after such an infuriatingly disastrous start, the Texans have two very winnable games coming up against the Cowboys and Bills, both at NRG Stadium. If Watson, the offense, and the pass rush all continue the upward trend, Houston could be back to .500 after two more games.

It Shouldn’t Have Taken Three Weeks For This To Happen,

Capt Ron:

The Good:

Houston finally notched their first win of the season, and they desperately needed to win this game.

Watt and Clowney are both back to their explosive potential and looking to have monster performances this year.

Watson, Fuller, Coutee and Hopkins are a lethal combination. The sky is the limit.

The Bad & Questionable:

The defensive secondary is abysmal. Johnathan Joseph needs to retire if he’s going to play 15+ yards off the ball and give up the underneath throws to scrub wide receivers. The Honey Badger hasn’t done much through four games, but it is hard to truly gauge his performance when the corners are getting slaughtered left and right.

This offensive line may be the worst in NFL history. Nothing is more infuriating than to watch guys like Kendall Lamm waddling over to the crumpled pile that is our franchise QB after they completely miss their blocks. Well, perhaps even more infuriating are the false starts that continue to roll up and down the line. These are mental errors (false starts and missed blocks), not even technique issues! A new OL coach should be interviewed post-haste.

Bill O’Brien finally unpacked the playbook from last year where Deshaun Watson set the league on fire. While I appreciate that (because it is damn fun to watch), WHY did it take until the FOURTH game of the year to do so?!! That’s gross mismanagement and/or stubbornness that cost the team at least three games this season. Speaking of gross mismanagement, again this game showed a complete lack of awareness and/or confidence to “play to win.” With 40 seconds left in regulation, he calls a draw play with Alfred Blue for two yards?!! Trust our talented QB to THROW the ball downfield for the win (TD or field goal).

Summary:

This team has enough talent in enough areas to win, but the coaching is just so bleh.

Tim:

Once again, yesterday we found ourselves strapped in for a ride on the roller coaster that is Texans fandom.

For a good chunk of the afternoon, we saw a Texans squad that looked like what we hoped it would be this season. Then, because prolonged exposure to success and/or happiness is apparently something the Texans are allergic to, we saw a Texans squad that looked all too similar to the horror show we witnessed for the first three weeks of the season. It was both promising and terrifying.

The only reason darkness didn’t overtake the day was because of Frank Reich. I get the whole notion of being aggressive and playing to win. Objectively speaking, I’d applaud it without reservation if the ball was on the other side of the fifty yard line. But going for it on 4th and 4 from your own 43 yard line with less than a minute left in overtime? Call me too risk averse, but I think Reich should have punted there and forced the Texans’ offense to go closer to the length of the field instead of less than twenty yards to have a shot at winning the game. If nothing else, had the Colts punted, Reich would have been rightfully confident that Bill O’Brien would have called two Alfred Blue runs in such a situation and watched the clock expire.

A tie is better than a loss. A win is better than both. The Texans got that win, and they got it in spite of, not because of, how they played in the second half.