Broncos 37, Texans 13: Last Year's Would-Be Texan Shows Them How It's Done
It was 16-13 entering the fourth quarter of the Broncos-Texans game at Reliant on Sunday. After three quarters, the Texans actually had a shot at beating the team many believe will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year. Then Peyton Manning did what he does. He threw three touchdowns, including an NFL record-tying and clinching 50th and 51st of the season, and snatched defeat for the Texans from the jaws of victory.
So, so awful.
Not surprisingly, the game turned on a Matt Schaub interception that was not run back for a touchdown, but was on their end of the field. Schaub, who got the start for an injured Case Keenum, had 176 yards on the day with one TD and two picks against a very mediocre Denver defense. Still, the Texans defense, which mixed up blitzes and ran some zone coverages against Manning and the Broncos, held the Denver offense down...until it didn't.
For at least a half, the Broncos played the part of the Texans, racking up penalty yards that stalled drives, but the Texans were unable to capitalize and Manning eventually found a way to win.
Unfortunately, the Washington Redskins managed to lose in their own creative way against the Cowboys, meaning the Texans must lose to Tennessee next week in order to clinch the first pick in the NFL draft, in a sort of backward, bizarro-world version of being forced to win a game to make the playoffs.
What went right: 45 Minutes
The Texans, all season, have managed to put together one good half, usually the first one, and crater in the second. This time, they managed three quarters of relatively solid play before collapsing under the weight of Manning's impending MVP trophy.
What went wrong: Running Back Injuries
Eventually, they might just have to do a lottery and pull people out of the stands. The Texans were already down Arian Foster and Ben Tate for the season. Dennis Johnson didn't last the game, and even Deji Karim pulled up hurt late. Jonathan Grimes, a former roster casualty of the Texans, came in and ran for 23 yards, which was 16 yards more than he had run in his entire career.
What must improve: I got nothin'.
After this nightmare of a season, it's nearly impossible to find something that doesn't need to improve. Even Andre Johnson -- we're certain lost in a fog of dreaming about the offseason -- dropped a gimme in the end zone. It has just been that kind of season.
What should stay the same: You've got that losing feeling...
One more to go and the Texans sew up the number one pick in the draft. Not that there is necessarily anyone there deserving of that selection -- arguments can be made for Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota (if he decides to leave school) and Jadeveon Clowney -- but having the pick puts them in the driver's seat to keep it or trade it. Better to have the option than be sitting in second or third hoping for the team's in front of you to leave the player you want.