September 20, 2009
Oh Man, That was Totally Wicked!
by Keith Weiland
Licking their wounds from last week's beatdown administered by the Jets, the Texans took the nasty with them to Nashville and left as victors, 34-31. A late fumble by Titans quarterback Kerry Collins eliminated any last minute comeback attempts in a game that had opened with a wild 48 points and a tied score at halftime.
If the Texans were labeled as a finesse team a week ago, then consider these guys as re-listed as just a bit more resilient. There was physical play and questionable late hitting in this, and it burned the Titans enough to get a player ejected in the second half. And lest we forget, the Texans earned this crucial road win against last year's AFC South Division champs.
Quarterback Matt Schaub eschewed the boos and ewws of a week ago, throwing for 357 yards and four touchdowns. It was an "I'm Sorry" bouquet to beleagured Texans fans that came back smelling like roses.
On the end of most of those throws from Schaub were Andre Johnson (10-149-2) and Owen Daniels (6-72-1). Both not only made the tough catches, they absorbed some pretty brutal hits, too.
But it was the Texans defense that showed up when crunch time arrived. After spending the better part of three quarters getting re-acquainted with Titans running back Chris Johnson, who only ran and caught for a total of 284 yards and three touchdowns, the unit started to figure it out, shutting down the Titans offense in the final 25 minutes of the game.
Tied at 31, the Titans had possession of the football with 1:42 remaining in the game, beginning play from their own 38-yard line. Collins took the first down snap and was flushed from the deep pocket by a pursuit from tackle Amobi Okoye.
Not usually known for his scrambling ability, Collins dropped the football moving back toward the line of scrimmage, and Mr. Big Calves, Jeff Zgonina, fell on top of the ball with a mountain of players climbing on top of him. Player by player the pile lessened, and on the bottom was football's Father Time, still holding tight onto the ball. Sweet victory. I'm gonna give Zgonina the "Stay thirsty, my friends" Award for that effort.
Schaub gets a game ball for showing up in what could be the season's most pivotal affair. Yes, that was maybe just a bit of Week 2 hyperbole getting the better of me, but so what. Entire seasons can be built upon the momentum gained here in Nashville. Taking it to the Titans in their crib after the way Schaub and the offense came out so flat at home a week ago was nothing short of inspirational for the entire team.
Credit to Johnson and Daniels for being his stalwarts as well. Johnson had a couple drops early, but one could just sense Angry Dre emerging. And a hearty fistbump goes out to left tackle Duane Brown for doing a good job blocking, but also for picking a couple fumbles. Someone please staple the football to Steve Slaton and make him shed about 15 pounds before Week 3, thanks.
Defensively, it was rough going in containing Chris Johnson, who inexplicably lined up uncovered before catching the easiest 69-yard touchdown pass ever. But helmet stickers go out to rookie Brian "Screen Door" Cushing, who added some smarts and toughness in sniffing out a couple screens. Mario Williams was once again the best defensive player on the field, and DeMeco Ryans unsurprisingly led the way in tackles.
Turnovers really told the story in the end, as Collins' fumble ended what had been one of the most highlight-laden entertaining games in franchise history. (Thank you Kyle Vanden Bosch and your asinine red contact lenses for adding the best unintentional humor ever, too.) But like last week only in reverse, time of possession made a big difference to the Texans. Keep the Texans defense on the field long enough, and they're bound to blow open a big play for the opposition. Schuab and the offense extended drives and found holes deep in the Titans secondary, erasing a couple whoopsies and giving the defense the breaks it sorely needed to make the stands they needed in the fourth quarter.
Whew. Time to expect the unexpected in another raucous divisional match next Sunday, as the Texans pull on their Battle Reds for home game against the Jaguars.
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