Texans, Tebow and BCS Titles! This Weekend's 4 Winners and 4 Losers
First, you knock out Arian Foster for the first three games of the season with a hamstring injury. Then you rob us of Andre Johnson not once but twice with injuries to each hamstring, forcing him to miss most of the season. Then you rip Mario Williams from us with a torn pectoral muscle. And finally, you drop Albert Haynesworth on top of Matt Schaub's foot, ending his season, and then, for good measure, knock out Schaub's backup (Matt Leinart) in less than one half of action as the new starter.
And those are just SOME of the Texans you've wreaked your havoc upon. I haven't even mentioned James Casey, Danieal Manning, Mike Briesel, Bret Hartmann or Wade Phillips. But alas, none of those obstacles could keep the Texans down.
So you had to go crying to Mother Nature and just flood the entire city. Lazy, unoriginal, destructive retaliation, football gods. But like our Texans, we will forge on.
In a game that was very reminiscent of the games that comprised their seven-game winning streak, the Texans beat the Bengals on Saturday afternoon in the first postseason game in the history of the franchise, 31-10. The early jitters subsided, the mistakes were few and now all of a sudden, the Texans find themselves one of eight remaining teams standing in the postseason.
To be sure, the Texans are the new kid on this playoff block. The other seven teams have all won Super Bowls since 1994, and have combined for 19 of the 45 Super Bowl championships in league history, and nine of the previous 13 titles. It makes it logical to wonder if or when the magnitude of the stage on which they're playing will set in on this team. The Bengals were not the opponent to give us that gauge.
The Ravens might be this Sunday.
For now, the Texans are enjoying being mentioned among the elite teams in the league, seeing their logo on television as one of the remaining contenders. Tight end Joel Dreessen said as much on my radio show with me and John Granato on 1560 The Game earlier today:
I'm glad you brought that up because that is a very rewarding feeling right now, to know that we're one of only eight teams left. Usually, this time of year we're moving on to our offseason and I'm mad that I'm watching these teams play, and now we're one of them. It's just really rewarding to see our logo up there.
In my mind, we've reached the point where anything that gets accomplished this season beyond Saturday is gravy. Fortunately, the Texans players don't feel the same way.
Now, winners and losers from this weekend.
1. Texans offense
There had been copious amounts of hand-wringing over the Texans' inability to put up points the last few weeks with T.J. Yates at quarterback. Well, the Texans offense put up 24 points on Saturday and accentuated one of the thoughts I'd been espousing the week leading up to the game -- that the offense had actually looked fairly smooth in the brief periods (first half Atlanta, first drive Tennessee) when Yates had Andre Johnson on the field. After the familiar formula on Saturday of 153 yards from Arian Foster, timely throws from Yates and no turnovers, it's worth pointing out that the offense on Saturday looked virtually the same as it did with Schaub for most of the season. In fact, Yates's passer rating Saturday was 97.7; Schaub's on the season was 96.8. The bottom line is, if the Texans have their full complement of weapons to aid Yates, they will be okay.
2. J.J. Watt
They say that this late in a player's rookie year, he's no longer a rookie. Not only is that true of J.J. Watt, but you could make a case that he's been the Texans' best defensive player late in the year. Saturday, he had the play that changed the entire complexion of the game right before halftime, with an improbable pick-six...
3. Arian Foster
The game got off to a shaky start for Foster as he almost lost the ball on his first carry (which would have been this third "first series" fumble of the second half of the season) and then had a false start on the second snap. The game ended much better, with Foster gaining 153 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. The first touchdown was huge in that it was an immediate response to the Bengals' first score, and the second touchdown was the final nail in the coffin, and should have had Bengals Safety Chris Crocker pondering another line of work after the game....
Props to Jacoby Jones for nice blocking downfield. I've been hard on him this season as a receiver, and rightfully so, but he's been a solid downfield blocker. Good job, Jacoby.