Colts 27, Texans 24: Weird Game, Coach Collapses, Bad Kicker and Another Loss
In the long train of abuses and usurpations -- to borrow a phrase -- that is pro football in Houston, Texas, Sunday night's loss to the Colts probably isn't in the top 10, but it did have one thing in common with all the others: It was seriously heartbreaking.
Photos by Marco Torres Bad end to a great half.
Fortunately, one of the hearts that wasn't broken was that of head coach Gary Kubiak, who collapsed at the end of the first half but did not have a heart attack. Rumors were swirling online that the dizziness Rick Smith told NBC Kubiak suffered from may have been caused, at least in part, by dehydration, but no doubt we'll know more later today.
Unfortunately, it was the team on the field that shriveled in the second half under a combination of poor defense, oddball offensive play calling (we're going to assume Rick Dennison, the offensive coordinator, is to blame here) and God-awful special teams play, particularly from a certain former Aggie kicker. More on that in a moment.
While this may not rank up there with Mike Barber in Pittsburgh or losing to Buffalo, it still hurts despite some magnificent play from young Case Keenum.
What went right: The Deep Ball
Holy crap, y'all, the Texans have a vertical passing attack again...or for once. Case Keenum came out firing completing long touchdown passes of 62 and 41 yards to Andre Johnson in the first half. He hit Johnson again for another short touchdown to set a team record of three touchdowns in a single game for the veteran wideout. The fact that no one has ever caught three TDs in a single game is telling, but Keenum was fantastic throughout the game, and made a name for himself under the national spotlight.
Runner up: For one half of football, we saw what the Texans could be on offense and defense. Unfortunately, there was a second half and they are required to play special teams some of the time.
What went wrong: Kicking
Randy Bullock has not made a kick over 50 yards all year. He missed three field goals on Sunday, including one that could have been the game-tying kick as time expired in the fourth quarter. After a rocky start, Bullock started to look better, but he has regressed. His final kick on Sunday was not even remotely close. I actually laughed when I saw it because it was so awful. Unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done to turn the Texans into a good special teams team, but getting rid of Bullock is something that must be considered at this point.
Runner up: The entire second half was an unmitigated disaster. From up 18 to down 3 on your home turf is inexcusable. Perhaps the team was worried about their fallen coach, but I doubt it. More likely, they just started playing poorly and got rolled by a better team.
What must improve: Special Teams
It's like a broken record. From Bullock to the return game, the Texans are abysmal on special teams. Even Shane Lechler got into the act with a brutal kick in the fourth quarter setting up the Colts with a short field down 5. Coach Joe Marciano must be fired at the end of the season if not sooner and the team needs to start over.
What should stay the same: The Vertical Passing Game
Into his second game, Keenum figured out, at least for a half, how to exploit a defense thanks to stellar preparation by the offense. His ability to extend plays with his legs and still keep his head looking up field is not something normally seen from an almost-rookie. He even set them up with field position to tie the game in the fourth quarter. He was outstanding in all facets.