Houston Texans Turn The Corner -- 5 Winners, 5 Losers
I shouldn't enjoy carnage as much as I do, but I have to admit that a few hours after Neil Rackers' 35-yard field goal sailed through the uprights, sending the Houston Texans to an improbable 30-27 overtime win over the Washington Redskins yesterday afternoon, my destination listening/reading was Redskin websites and radio stations.
Neil Rackers -- He's no Kris Brown
That's right, rather than float around Texans message boards to cyber-celebrate with fellow Texan fans or seek out the immediate post-game takes from People Whose Opinion I Value (or do something remotely productive like read a book), I wanted to bathe in the misery of a fan base whose collective facial expression was probably some combination of Brian Kelly after Saturday's Michigan State fake field goal and Jack Bauer when Renee Walker was killed by snipers.
Why did schadenfreude take precedence on Sunday night? Because for once, it wasn't us. For once, the Texans were on the right end of the 17-point comeback. For once, the five or six plays that absolutely had to happen -- Pollard blocked field goal, Andre Johnson touchdown on fourth and ten, Washington kicker Graham Gano missing from 52 yards in overtime (after making an attempt nullified by a Kubiak timeout), Jacoby Jones big third-down catch on the final drive, Joel Dreessen's only catch of the game clinching field goal position -- went the Texans way.
These things don't happen to good teams -- good teams make them happen. These Texans, for all of their flaws (fewer than ever before but still there), are a good team.
1. Versatility. I think the most positive developments from the first two Texans games are (1) who they beat (two possible to highly likely playoff teams, one at home and one on the road) and (2) more importantly, how they beat them. The first game against the Colts was a game that the Texans led from virtually jump and pounded the running game to keep the Colts offense on the sidelines for the first eight minutes of the second half. The game yesterday saw the Texans fall behind by 17 (in a hostile environment, no less) and have to ride the consistency of Matt Schaub, the return to glory of Kevin Walter, and the greatness of Andre Johnson to a comeback that had potential pitfalls about every thirty seconds. These Texans are equipped to beat you any number of ways offensively -- not many teams can say that. Maybe New Orleans. Maybe Green Bay. That's about it.
2. Pink Fluffy Stars. My 12-year-old daughter is in a fantasy football league. Her team name is the "Pink Fluffy Stars." She's the only girl in the league, and spent her last six picks on players she thought were cute. Naturally, she is winning the league. Why? She has Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub. (And Jahvid Best.) It's the most emasculating thing I've seen since Daryl Morey tweeted that his wife was making him go to the Michael Buble concert.
3. Cardiology. So Michigan State Mark Dantonio goes into the hospital with a mild heart attack just hours after pulling off the ballsiest fake play you'll ever see in an actual game (I have to point out "actual" because my son tries fake punts and field goals roughly every third play on xBox.) with a fake field goal to beat Notre Dame in overtime. To me, this proves two things -- 1. Be very careful when using trickery to beat a team with Jesus painted on the side of its library and the Virgin Mary on top of its admin building. VERY careful. 2. Dantonio was the coach of the winning team. Repeat, the winning team, and he had a heart attack. Cardiologists everywhere poured themselves a whiskey and started laughing to themselves before checking their bank accounts. Again.
4. Boardwalk Empire. It's been a while since I actually made time to get in on the ground floor of a show. I like television, but I'm not a television buff by any means. (Things that I am a buff for include Italian food, mob movies, and animal fights on YouTube -- Hornets versus bees, google it, thank me later.) Every show that I've loved the past decade or so (24, The Office, The Sopranos, The Wire, The Shield, a handful of others) I got in a couple seasons in and/or via the magic of DVD box sets. But Boardwalk Empire was different, probably because of the Sopranos/mob show parallels. This probably deserves its own post, but suffice it to say, I was pleased with the first episode and it's setting up very nicely with Steve Buscemi in the "Tony Soprano" role and Michael Pitt in the "Christopher Moltisanti" role. Very nicely.
5. Texan season ticket holders on Sunday. You get a chance to witness the Texans going three games over .500 for the first time in their history while effectively ending the season of their in-state rival (and the career of their coach, potentially). It's like the scene in Wall Street (the first one, not the upcoming abortion with Shia Labeouf) where Bud Fox approached Sir Lawrence Wildman -- "Sir Lawrence, what would you say to owning Bluestar Airlines with union concessions at $18 a share...and in the process hanging Gordon Gekko out in the wind to twist.... ? " IN!!
1. Me! As the pock-faced cartoon handicapper on The Simpsons once said, "Well, when you're right 52 percent of the time, you're wrong 48 percent of the time." Hey, I'll be the first one to admit when I lay an egg, and the call of the Cougars over the Bruins was the worst call I've had since I tried to convince my high school buddies in 1985 that the McDLT would revolutionize fast food ("But guys, isn't it important that the hot stay hot and the cool stay cool? No?!? REALLY?!? Losers."). The game was never close, the Bruins were the better team, and the game set the perception of Conference USA back about...well, back to before the season started when most of us thought it sucked anyway.
2. All 31 UCLA Bruins Fans. Naturally (and thankfully...keep the hits coming Bruin Fan!), my post from last week brought the Bruins fans out of the woodwork calling me every variation of a mouth-breathing turd that you can possibly concoct, with many making some very solid recommendations for my future employment. I thank all of you, I'm considering everything right now. For now, I'm just excited that, with 31 comments and counting, my blog is actually better attended than Bruin home games! Go Powder Blue!
3. University of Houston. It cannot be understated how important this football season was (and still is) for Mack Rhoades and the University of Houston. After a grassroots ticket sales campaign that was practically a door-to-door effort throughout the entire offseason, the BCS dream, undefeated season, and Heisman hopes were all dashed in a matter of about one quarter of football. Rhoades is as resourceful an athletics director as you'll find (he got facilities built at Akron for crying out loud -- a place best known for not being known at all until it got screwed over by LeBron James), but circling the wagons just got a whole lot harder.
4. Jake Locker. The University of Washington has taken it upon themselves to notify every card carrying member of the Football Writers Association of America (of which I am a member) how super-dee-duper-awesome their quarterback Jake Locker is by sending out a small postcard outlining Locker's weekly accomplishments. After a four-completion (in twenty attempts) performance against Nebraska this weekend (a 35-point Husker drubbing), I'm assuming the postcards will talk about Locker's high score in Wii bowling or his speaking to Cub Scout troop 876. They can't possibly come up with anything football related, can they? Sadly, Locker's draft status remains unharmed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter who says Locker will still be a top ten pick next spring. Why? Well, here's why.....
5. NFL QB's. Two weeks into the season, I count thirteen NFL teams whose quarterback situations can be deemed "solid", meaning they're not fraught with angst and uncertainty due to underperformance, injury, and/or inexperience (for purposes here, I deemed "in season two or less" as "inexperienced") -- Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego, New England, New Orleans, Washington, Chicago, Green Bay, Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Seattle and the New York Giants. And I had to include Orton, Cassel, Hasselbeck, and Pizza Boy Eli to get to thirteen. This is why Jake Locker doesn't get hurt by "four for twenty" -- for some teams, that's an upgrade.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.