I had a bit of a bad feeling about this game, going in. First off, Indianapolis are the reigning Super Bowl champions and they don't seem to be playing like it (see Tampa Bay, New York Giants and just about every other team to win the Super Bowl other than the Patriots in the last ten years). Second, Andre Johnson is out. Third, Demarcus Faggins is starting. On purpose. Without anyone ahead of him being injured. Still, these aren't your father's Houston Texans (unless you're reading this, Nick or Lily). Matt Schaub has been playing really well and the boneheaded mistakes that plagued the team last year and before that seem to be less.
I listened to Mark Vandermeer calling Mathis's touchdown return to open the game with mixed emotions. Yes, I was excited. Mathis took one to the house and that could only mean good things. But I knew that the game was far from over. Ah well, we were up by seven and no amount of over-thinking things could change that. Only Peyton Manning and the Colts could. And they did. Quick drive, seven points over newcomer Michael Boulware to Stupid Dallas Clark who was supposed to make my day by not playing.
Not a big deal because we've got our own brainy quarterback who can make adjustments. And he did. And the Texans drove. And my heart soared because Matt Schaub truly isn't David Carr. Still, the drive stalled because of an inability to run and a false start penalty. Brown split the uprights and we were up again.
My good feeling was not to last. Manning is Manning and, as such, is unstoppable. He drove his team 65 yards for another touchdown (this time it was Joseph Addai literally OVER Demarcus Faggins for a four yard touchdown run) and just like that reality was setting in. After all, once Houston goes down to the Colts, it's over, right?
Enter the Houston Texans. They drove for 44 yards and had to settle for a punt that would bottle the Colts inside their 15.
A rare three-and-out for the Colts put the Texans in business at their own 38. Then the inexplicable happened. An 8-yard pass, then a running play up the middle that put the clock down to 46 seconds. WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS GARY KUBIAK THINKING? This is not David Carr, to be coddled when there's an opportunity for a score! Maybe Kubiak woke up because he had Schaub pass again but this was a short incompletion that stopped the clock. Indianapolis, likely snickering up their sleeves at the horrible, horrible mincing play, ran the clock down as you do when you have a lead and start inside your twenty with 30 seconds left (instead of doing it when you're nearly at midfield, down by three against the best team in the league) and Houston headed into halftime down by four to the Colts.
The wheels fell off in the third quarter. The Colts completed two 20+ yard completions on their first drive, both to tight ends, as they drove 57 yards for a field goal.
A late throw over the middle to Jacoby Jones was tipped then intercepted by the Colts who took the 21-yard field and drove for a touchdown. That made it 24-10.
My Texans-sense kicked in and I thought we were in for a crap-kicking, but little did I know that these are not your father's Houston Texans (unless you're reading this, Nick or Lily). Granted, the Texans went three and out but after they forced a three-and-out out of the Indianapolis Colts, Jacoby Jones returned the ensuing punt 72 yards to the Indianapolis 18. Turns out that Jacoby Jones separated his shoulder and will miss some significant time but it was still a nice play that should have gotten the Texans back in the game. HOWEVER, Schaub threw an interception the very next play.
Indianapolis, on the strength of a 64-yard completion to Reggie Wayne, kicked another field goal and put Houston behind 27-10.
Undaunted, the Houston Texans started off on their own 27 yard line and Schaub connected with Andre Davis (the other wide-receiving Andre) for 41 yards down to the Indianapolis 1. Two Samkon Gado runs got the Texans into the end zone, 27-17 Indy.
On the kickoff following the touchdown, Rushing returned the ball 47 yards to the fifty. Manning, picking once again on Demarcus Faggins, moved the ball into field goal range, allowing Vinatieri to put them ahead 30-17.
Houston started on their own 25, passing smartly but taking too much time. The clock ticked away while Schaub nickled-and-dimed his way down the field. Normally, I don't have a problem with scoring drives. In fact, they're pretty darn cool. However, the drive started with 10:33 on the clock and ended at 2:53. If you're down by 13 against the best offense in the league, maybe you want to hustle up to the line a little. However, a pass to Vonta Leach made it 30-24. Doing my math, that meant that a touchdown and single point would put Houston ahead. All they needed was an onside-kick or a defensive stop and another touchdown.
It was not an onside kick, so Houston was relying on their defense to get them out of the jam. A false-start by Ryan Diem helped. Demarcus Faggins playing against Marvin Harrison did not. Stupid Manning completed a second-and-nine pass to Harrison for 12 yards and were able to run the clock down to 19 seconds by the time the Texans managed to hold the Colts and get the ball back with no timeouts on their own 20-yard-line. Schaub got sacked on a big blitz and time ran out before they could call another play. Indianapolis wins, 30-24.
Houston keeps trying, no matter how far down they are, and don't give up until the end of the game, whether it's holding on to a lead, scrambling back from far down or just churning when the game is still in doubt. That's pretty awesome.
The defense came together in the second half, holding Indy to field goals when the offense or special teams was letting them down (or, granted, they were letting themselves down).
For a team with no running game, they still put up 24 points.
Schaub completed passes to ten different receivers.
The return game still seems dominant.
Another sack for Amobi wan Okoye
Running the clock out from your own 40 with plenty of time is COWARDLY. COWARDS LOSE FOOTBALL GAMES. I never want to see that kind of mincing, fraidy-cat playcalling, ever, ever again!
Keeping Demarcus Faggins on Indy's best receiver when he was consistently converting for first downs was a bad mistake.
Michael Boulware's first significant action was, unfortunately, marred by having to cover Dallas Clark.
Schaub's two interceptions were horrendous – especially the second one. Talk about a dagger in the heart.
Samkon Gado and Jameel Cook should not be the primary ball carriers for any team.
Next week: rebound game against the Atlanta Falcons and a chance to go 3-1 on the season. Johnson and Jacoby Jones won't be playing and Steve McKinney is out for the year but I'm still hopeful.