By Peter Unger
Statistician for the Houston Texans radio broadcast since 2010
Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus Made Plays and Set Records
The box score shows that the Chiefs scored 30 points on the Texans defense… but what the box score does not show is that the Texans Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus both had huge games and set Houston Texans playoff records in the process. Cushing led both teams with 13 tackles (nine of which were solo). He also recorded a pass deflection and an interception. The 13 tackles were a Texans’ playoff record. The previous record was held by J.J. Watt in the 2011 Division playoff game vs Baltimore.
Mercilus had a monster game with three QB sacks, eight tackles (five solo), three tackles-for-a-loss (TFL), and four QB hits. His three sacks set a Texans’ playoff record breaking Watt’s 2.5 sack effort vs Baltimore in 2011. Mercuilus had three of the Texans four TFLs, all three of their sacks and all four of the team’s QB hits. His three sacks was just the 26th time in NFL playoff history that a player has recorded three or more sacks. The NFL record is 4.5 by New England Patriot Willie McGinest in 2005.
Alfred Blue was the Best Running Back on the Field
The box score shows that the Chiefs outgained the Texans 141 yards to 114…but what the box score does not show is that the Texans Alfred Blue was the best running back on the field in the game. Blue rushed the ball 17 times for 99 yards and set a Texans’ playoff record for longest play from scrimmage with his 49 yard run in the 2nd quarter. The previous long was Arian Fosters 42 yard touchdown run vs Cincinnati in 2011 in the Wild Card game.
With Blue’s 102 yards vs Jacksonville in the last game of the regular season, the Texans moved to 4-0 in four career games when Blue rushes for 100 yards or more. As a team, in the first nine games of the regular season, the Texans went over 100 yards rushing just one time (vs Tampa Bay with 186; Blue had 139 in that game) and the team’s record during that stretch was just 4-5. However, in the last seven games of the season, the Texans as a team rushed for over 100 yards six times and the team went 5-2 during that seven game stretch.
Hoyer Was Bad in the Playoffs…But Quite Good in the Regular Season
The box score shows that Brian Hoyer went 15 of 34 for 136 yards with 4 interceptions…but what the box score does not show is that despite this very bad game, Hoyer had his best season of his career and arguably the 3rd best season by a Texans QB.
For this game, Hoyer was historically bad. He threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball two times. (He recovered one of them). Hoyer was the first QB in NFL history to have at least 30 passing attempts, complete less than 50% of his passes and have 0 TD in a home playoff game. In addition, Hoyer’s four turnovers in the first half was the was the most since Eli Manning of the NY Giants had four in the 2nd half of the 2005 Wild Card game vs Carolina.
Hoyer’s four interceptions was a Texans playoff record surpassing T.J. Yates’ three in the 2011 Divisional playoff loss to Baltimore. The NFL record for interceptions in a playoff game is six (by four players). The last time this happened in the playoffs was by Brett Favre in 2002 vs the St. Louis Rams.
Despite this poor performance, Hoyer had a very good season, and has been far above average in his career. For the regular season, Hoyer had a +12 TD to interception ratio (19 TD to 7 Interceptions). This is just the 3rd time in Texans’ history that a QB has had a +12 TD to interception ratio in a season. Matt Schaub was +14 in 2009 (29 and 15) and +12 in 2010 (24-12). Hoyer’s record as a starting QB in nine starts this regular season was 5-4. Hoyer was the first opening day starting QB to end the season with a winning record since Matt Schaub in 2012. Hoyer has a 15-11 career record in 26 career starts. In his 16 starts in Cleveland in 2013 and 2014 the Browns went 10-6 but when Hoyer did not start the Browns were just 1-15.
The Texans Had Zero Return Yards in the Game
The box score shows that Knile Davis returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown…but what you might not have noticed in the box score was that the Texans did not have any return yardage. Davis’ opening kickoff return for 106 yards and a touchdown was the 2nd longest kickoff return in NFL playoff history. The longest was 108 yards by former Houston Texan Jacoby Jones for the Baltimore Ravens in the 2012 Super Bowl. In comparison, the Houston Texans had exactly zero kickoff or punt return yardage. All of the Chiefs’ kickoffs went into the endzone and were not returned. All of the Chiefs’ punts were either downed or not returned by the Texans. In addition Cairo Santos was 3 of 3 on FG with a pair of 49 yard FG in the 2nd quarter and a 33 yard FG late in the 4th quarter. The Texans Nick Novak did not attempt any FG in the game.