When your team is facing a squad in turmoil that's starting a QB who was picked in the sixth round of the prior draft, your team, provided it has some talent, should beat the opposition. Handily, even. For perhaps the first time all season, your Houston Texans actually followed the script. Instead of deviating from the script in some sort of fashion that we'd never before envisioned, the Texans won, and they won rather easily.
Houston's fifth win of the 2010 season is probably a case of too-little-too-late, even though the AFC South is still up for grabs. We can beat ourselves up about the head and shoulders, Andre Johnson style over missed opportunities later. For now, let's revel in a win over a division rival. Those have happened far too rarely since the Dawn of the Texans, and they should be celebrated. Beyond the jump, let's examine some of the noteworthy performances from the second shutout in franchise history.
1. He likely won't be a serious contender for the award because his team has been so maddeningly inconsistent, but Arian Foster should be getting much more press as a viable MVP candidate. No one in the league is playing better than he is right now. Foster turned in another dominant performance on Sunday, carrying the ball 30 times for 143 yards (many of which came in the second half, when everyone in the stadium knew the Texans were running the ball to burn clock) and catching 9 passes for 75 yards. There is not another RB that I'd rather have lining up for the Texans.
2. We've devoted an awful lot of time, space, and energy complaining about Gary Kubiak and/or Rick Dennison's offensive strategy, so it's only fair to laud them when they put together an excellent game plan. They never tried to get too cute. They used Foster and Derrick Ward to move the ball while keeping the clock moving. Matt Schaub still threw 35 times, but the majority of the plays were on quick, short routes. It was about as good a game as you could ask for.
3. As they have been most of the season, Vonta Leach and the OL were phenomenal. While I don't see any Houston offensive lineman being a Pro Bowler, Leach has been a revelation this year. Send Leach to the beach, won't you?
4. Jacksonville game aside, Joel Dreessen continues to ensure that Owen Daniels will be playing somewhere else next year.
5. An Andre Johnson note that is not related to his thrashing of Cortland Innegan: On Sunday, 'Dre became the only player in NFL history to record 60 catches in his first 8 seasons. That is unbelievable on several levels, with the most unbelievable level being that 'Dre accomplished that feat despite having David Carr as his QB for the first four of those eight seasons.
6. Was that a Steve Slaton sighting--returning the opening kickoff? I would've been less surprised to see Jermaine Lewis back there.
7. I've got a bit of a (deserved) reputation as an Amobust Amobi Okoye critic, so it is with great solemnity I say that Amobi Okoye was fantastic on Sunday. I believe it was one of the best games he's ever played as a professional football player. He has not approached that level of impact since his first year in the league. He was great. Yes, the Titans guards are well below average, but results are results.
8. Welcome back, Brian Cushing. He looked much improved against the Jets last week, and he was even better against the Titans. Could we be seeing a return to '09 form?
9. Darryl Sharpton isn't lighting the world on fire at WLB, but he's so much better than Zac Diles that it's difficult to imagine Diles ever getting that starting gig back.
10. I'm growing increasingly fond of Mark Anderson playing end on passing downs. He's not making me forget about what Connor Barwin could have been, but he's been a nice cog, especially as a midseason pickup.
11. As much as you'd like to see him actually get the QB, it's still fun watching Mario Williams get ohsoclose to sacking the QB. Even when he's not getting there, he's still making a difference. Just ask Rusty Smith.
12. Speaking of ol' Rusty, wow. I totally overestimated him. He was throwing wounded ducks without being touched. Just a truly wretched game by him. He's a rookie who was thrown into the fire, so it's not like his career is over, but yikes. A few more efforts like that, and Rusty will be selling insurance in Boca Raton.
13. The beneficiary of Rusty's rustiness? Glover Quin. While some may question the skills or talent required to catch Rusty's droppings, a pick is a pick is a pick. Three (3) picks is a great afternoon, and I'm glad it happened to a guy who was a collosal goat the previous two weeks. Hope it builds some confidence, which he's going to need in spades on Thursday night.
14. Under that same logic, a shutout is a shutout. Say what you will about Tennessee's offensive game plan; you can't blame them for wanting to attack the worst secondary in the league, even with a rookie QB, although it's insane that Chris Johnson was treated as though he was Greg Comella. Frank Bush has given us plenty to complain about this season, and overwhelming odds are that we'll have new material (or, depending on how you look at it, old material presented anew in Philadelphia) in short order. Still, a defense can't do any better than zero points surrendered.
15. In that same vein...less than one yard per carry for Chris Johnson? I still don't believe it.
16. I was terrified of what Randy Moss would do to the Texans. I totally underestimated how much he just doesn't care. Watching him barely lift his head, much less jump, for a potential TD pass was incredible to see.
Sunday was about as good a result as Texans fans could have hoped for. Now it's on to Philadelphia, and I don't think many of us are optimistic. It could get very, very ugly, because Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb ain't Rusty Smith. Until then, let's bask in the beauty that is knowing Bud Adams had a miserable weekend.Titans vs Texans coverage