Texans 29, Colts 17: Back-to-Basics Approach Nets AFC South Title, Renews Playoff Hopes
|Photo by Groovehouse|
|Brian Braman finds the end zone after blocking a punt.|
It wasn't all about the running game, of course. When the run plays struggled early on, Andre Johnson kept Houston afloat with the majority of his team-high 11 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. For his part, Schaub had yet another efficient day, completing 23-of-31 passes for 261 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers.
The exploits from Johnson were to be expected. What may have come as a surprise, however, was the strong outing from rookie wideout DeVier Posey. A third-round pick from Ohio State, Posey caught three passes for 46 yards, including a 36-yard seam route on which he held on despite being decked.
The Houston coaching staff seemed quite impressed. For much of the fourth quarter, it was Posey -- not usual No. 2 receiver Kevin Walter -- that lined up opposite Andre Johnson as the Texans closed things out.
"A young player has really stepped up, so we're going to give him an opportunity to play more," Kubiak said of Posey.
The Texans all year have been searching for one of three young players -- Posey, Keshawn Martin (both rookies) and Lestar Jean -- to give them more explosion opposite Johnson in the passing game. With the postseason around the corner, Posey seems to be coming around at just the right time.
"This is all part of the maturation of a player," said Posey. "I learned as a freshman in college that it doesn't happen just like that. I've just been trying to study more and more. We don't have an easy playbook or scheme, so just being able to understand what we're doing conceptually has helped a lot."
Watt finds help
On defense, the incredible outing from Watt can't be overstated. Now with 19.5 sacks on the season, he has a legitimate shot to break Michael Strahan's all-time record of 22.5 sacks in a season. Even while playing a position (end in a 3-4) that typically isn't known for pass rushers.
"If he keeps going at the rate he's going, I think he'll probably be the greatest Texan to come through here," Andre Johnson said of Watt.
But unlike recent weeks, the "Bulls on Parade" label correctly applied to more than one defender. Conner Barwin and Antonio Smith each held their own, while the much-maligned Houston secondary limited star Colts receiver Reggie Wayne to a mere 3 catches for 14 yards, one of which came on the game's irrelevant final play.
It wasn't a game without flaws. The Texans scored just one touchdown on five red-zone trips. Shayne Graham badly missed on another 50-yard field goal. The defense struggled at times with Vick Ballard, who rushed 18 times for 105 yards, and has Adrian Peterson and the Vikings visiting next Sunday.
But when everything was on the line in the second half, the Texans won a huge game by reverting back to their core principles: a physically-punishing ground game and a diverse pass rush that rattles opposing quarterbacks.
If they're going to win even bigger games in January, this is likely to be the formula.