ARLINGTON, TX (CBS Houston) – Great news! It appears I didn’t catch the ebola while in Dallas.
[We’re going to pretend I don’t have to wait at least 21 days to know if I actually have it.]
Amusing news! Texans fans essentially turned Jerry-World into a neutral location Sunday. It was very impressive. If you made the trip, give yourself a round of golf claps and a pat on the back.
The Chess Piece
Arian Foster may fancy himself a rook, but he was the queen on Sunday.
It took him a while to get going against the Cowboys, but when the Texans finally committed to Foster, he was his vintage self: 23 carries for 157 yards and 2 TDs.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t get him going the way they wanted to in the passing game. Foster caught 2 of 5 passes thrown his way for just 15 yards. And 2 of the 3 that missed their mark would prove costly:
- An Orlando Scandrick interception in Dallas territory
- And the 3rd and two incompletion in OT
Still, it was nice to see Foster and the ground game rolling on all cylinders after going missing in action for two weeks.
Do You Even Bend Without Breaking, Bro?
I’ve been calling the takeaways the Texans have forced inside their own 20 luck. But at this point, can I keep calling it that?
- Fumbled snap at 11, J.J. Watt recovered
- D.J. Swearinger FF at 9, Kendrick Lewis recovered
- Johnathan Joseph FF at 16, D.J. Swearinger recovered
- Kendrick Lewis FF at 4, Johnathan Joseph recovered
- J.J. Watt interception TD from 20 (play started at 12)
- Kendrick Lewis FF at 10, Justin Tuggle recovers
- Kendrick Lewis interception at 2
They’ve had at least one red zone takeaway in every game thus far. The odds of this continuing can’t be high – especially when the Texans are allowing 3.4 red zone trips per game. And I’d prefer a traditional forced punt.
That said, it’s time to give some credit where it’s due. They’re finally making plays.
Last season, the Texans allowed touchdowns on 66% of red zone trips…dead last in the NFL. This year, they’ve allowed touchdowns on just 41% on visits to the red. That puts them at third. It’s a significant improvement – as long as they realize they can’t rely on this every single game.
Getting In Their Own Way
I don’t think Ryan Fitzpatrick is as bad a quarterback as he’s made out to be. He can escape pressure and trusts receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson in coverage.
But he’s VERY limited in what he can do – especially when this team finds itself in 3rd and long situations. The Cowboys knew it. And when they had the Texans in those scenarios, they’d often sag 8 players 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, daring Fitzpatrick to throw the ball underneath.
Unfortunately, they found themselves in that situation often thanks to a bounty of mistakes:
- Q1 – Fiedorowicz Falst Start
- Led to a 3rd and 10: Texans punt
- Q1 – Ben Jones hold at Texans 42 changes 2nd & 6 to 2 & 16
- Led to a 3rd and 16: Texans punt
- Q2 – 2 penalties on series:
- Duane Brown called for being illegally downfield
- Then a delay of game
- Led to a 3rd and 17: Texans punt
- Q3 – Brandon Brooks called for a hold after an 18 yard run
- Led to a 3rd and 20: Texans punt
The Texans fought back from down 10 to force overtime – something I don’t think they’d have done under Gary Kubiak. But they should have won the game. Dallas gave them every opportunity to pull off the road upset:
- Q1 – Murray fumble at HST 10: punt
- Q2 – Recovered Duane Harris’ muffed punt at DAL 43: 3 & out
- Q3 – Kendrick Lewis interception at Houston 2: 3 & out
- Q4 – Dan Bailey missed a potential game winning 53 yard field goal as time expired.
Bill O’Brien deserves criticism for a few decisions made during the game. They didn’t all come back to hurt the Texans. And I think you have to be fair when criticizing him because of these two points:
- He’s a first year NFL head coach. Mistakes are bound to happen
- There is no way the Texans tie the game under Kubiak down 10
But, O’Brien made some puzzling decisions in this one:
- The Cowboys went into this game allowing 5 yards per carry. So why did the Texans open up the game passing 6 our of their first 7 plays? The last of which resulting in an interception at the Cowboys 34? Maybe if the Texans had opened the game on the ground, they’d have scored in the first half. A big what if.
- The lack of urgency on the 13 play, 76 yard, 7:17 field goal drive with the Texans down 10 was also interesting. Again, it didn’t ultimately cost them. But I’m sure next time around, they’ll be in more of a hurry.
- The big call: passing the ball to Arian Foster on 3rd & 2 at the Dallas 48…resulting in an incompletion, a punt, and you know the rest. This, after Foster had rushed for 24 and 6 yards on his previous 2 carries that drive. To me, it seemed like a case of being too cute.
The good news out of all the above? I have faith that O’Brien will learn from those decisions, and make better ones in the future. And he better, with two tough primetime games against the Colts and Steelers on deck.
Paul Gallant hosts the “B-Straw and Pauly G” show – Tuesdays 9-11 PM, Wednesdays 8-11 PM, and Fridays 8-11 PM – with Brien Straw. Get in contact with Paul on Twitter – @PaulyGSays – or on Facebook – Paul Gallant.