Let's Engage the Hyperbole, Shall We?
Texans will be home watching the playoffs in January, so going overboard
with the rhetoric on the importance of Sunday's 13-12 win over the
Titans should be cautioned.
screw that. This was too much fun. Beating the one-loss Titans,
a team that had won its last seven against the Texans, was the best
win in franchise history. Maybe. At least one of the top three,
you, it was far from the prettiest win, but this is a bottomline
business. A win against a 12-1 team on the verge of securing homefield
throughout the playoffs - and against a rival that has simply bullied
the Texans for all but one season in its existence - has to be among
the most satisfying and most important in team history.
almost went the other way though. The Titans were plucking right
along with their 'death by Bironas' gameplan, that is, right up
until the game's most critical moment. Which brings us to the...
a one-point game, there are more than a handful of plays that could
be considered key, and this game was no exception. But this one
13-12, and with all 12 points scored by kicker Rob Bironas, the
Titans had the ball at the Texan 32-yard line on fourth down and
two minutes left in the game.
automatic for Titans head coach Jeff Fisher to bring in Bironas
for the 49-yard field goal attempt and the lead, right? I guess
instead cowered to the winds swirling in the north endzone (what?
really??) and sent his offense back onto the field. He asked his
quarterback, Kerry Collins, to throw deep to Justin McCareins into
man coverage. McCareins might have been able to make a play on the
ball - he had Jacques "Never Turn Back" Reeves covering
him - but the ball sailed overhead incomplete.
must have hoped his defense and three timeouts would give his team
the ball back with a little time left on the clock, but thanks to
Texans running back Steve Slaton, that never happened. Slaton busted
a 34-yard run on first down and later a 12-yard run to ice the game.
was a curious call by Fisher to eschew the field goal. Nonetheless,
the turnover on downs was the game's key play.
receiver Andre Johnson had perhaps the best game of his best season
ever. Johnson often found himself in single coverage, and he used
the defensive gameplanning miscue to abuse the Titans defense for
207 yards and a touchdown on 11 receptions. The catches were both
of the common and uncommon variety, and many of them came against
the Titans' best corner, Cortland Finnegan.
belongs to Slaton as well. It wasn't a statistically impressive
game, 24 carries for 100 yards, but it came against one of the league's
best run defenses. The Titans had only allowed one 100-yard rusher
before this game, and that count remains at one since it was Slaton
who had done it to them before.
the Texans kept the Titans out of the endzone all afternoon. Tackle
Amobi Okoye made a huge stop in the fourth quarter on third-and-1,
stuffing running back LenDale White for a two-yard loss and forcing
a fourth down. Solid play also came from the rest of the defensive
line as well, as they contained the explosive "smash and dash"
combo of White and Chris Johnson, holding them to just 91 yards
the Texans won the turnover battle, but it was winning the battle
on third downs once again that defined this game defensively for
the Texans. In getting the Titans off the field, the Texans kept
giving the ball to their offense, possessing the football for more
than 36 minutes of the game.
let's not hold back on the hyperbole here, this team has suffered
much and days like this should be celebrated. Wins on Monday Night
Football and in frigid temps on Lambeau Field are nice, but beating
a 12-1 Titans team at their own game - possession and defense -
legitimizes this 2008 Texans team like none before it.
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