November 24, 2009
Tuesday Morning Hangover
by Keith Weiland
Kicker Kris Brown has had better days. For the second game in a row, the franchise's lone field goal specialist missed a three-pointer to push the Texans into overtime versus a divisional opponent. And for the second straight game, the Texans lost 20-17, this one coming on Monday Night Football to the Titans.
On the heels of a missed 42-yarder two weeks ago against the Colts, Brown lined up a 49-yard attempt with six seconds remaining and kicked it wide left. It was Brown's second miss of the game as he pushed one wide from the same distance in the third quarter as well.
Brown's counterpart on the Titans, Rob Bironas, nailed his final attempt, converting a 53-yarder with 52 seconds remaining to give the visitors the victory.
Quiet for most of the second half, Matt Schaub and the Texans offense at least moved the ball effectively into field goal range for the game-tying attempt. Schaub completed a pair of passes to David Anderson and one to Kevin Walter to put the offense 31 yards away.
Schaub finished the game completing 25 of 39 attempts for 305 yards and two touchdown passes, the second of which coming on a nice floater to Andre Johnson in the back corner of the endzone. Johnson finished the game with four receptions for 78 yards to go with his score.
While the offense was quiet for most of the second half, the defense performed adequately, that is at least until quarterback scrambles for first downs are considered. Vince Young converted seven of his attempts for a fresh set of downs, totaling 11 rushes for 73 yards on the evening. His backfield partner, running back Chris Johnson, also had ample success against the Texans, running for 151 yards on his 29 carries.
But while the offense missed chances to put points on the board and the defense missed chances to tackle Young and Johnson, this game is bound to be remembered, once again, for what might have been.
Having driven the offense down to the Titans' 31-yard line, Schaub left himself eight seconds on the clock with a timeout to spare. Using the free play, he centered the spot for a game-tying field goal attempt with a dive toward the middle of the field.
Brown then set up for the kick 49-yards away with six seconds to play. And he missed it. What two weeks ago was a rare miss from a normally clutch kicker has since become an alarming trend, his third miss in four attempts and his second straight in a critical game situation.
Tough to hand out game balls in ANOTHER home loss to a divisional opponent. Tough to also think that the Texans have to beat the undefeated Colts next week to avoid going oh-for-2009 at home against the AFC South.
But there were a couple worthy players in this game. Rookie Brian Cushing made plays all over the field, notching a game-high ten tackles. His biggest gaffe - a late hit on Young - seemed tame on instant replay, too. His linebacking teammate, Zac Diles, also made several tackles and was credited with forcing the game's lone turnover, a fumble by Young.
On offense, Anderson stepped into the big empty shoes left by the injured Owen Daniels, providing two big catches on the team's final drive and leading the Texans as a reserce with five receptions for the game. Lastly, punter Matt Turk is almost never flashy, but his last punt was certainly noteworthy. He buried the Titans with a 47-yard beauty to their own 6-yard line, a boomer with a 4.8-second hangtime that was inexplicably fair caught. Turk put four of his five punts inside the 20 and finished the game with a 43.2-yard net.
16-57, 0 TDs
You knew the Titans would have some success on the ground, so I'm gonna let the yards and conversions by the Titans duo of Young and Johnson slide when it comes to the game's key stat. Instead, the sights are set squarely on the Texans running game. Steve Slaton and Chris Brown combined for this little unimpressive sum, and one has to wonder how Ryan Moats never once factored into this game. While Moats found little room against the Colts two weeks ago, he is just the one game removed from a 126-yard effort against the Bills.
Regardless of who is running the football, the Texans offense was way too one-dimensional against the Titans, much as they have been all season long. Whatever magic pixie dust zone blocking guru Alex Gibbs once sprinkled with the Broncos and Falcons is now gone, and there is little evidence that he and offense are going to find more of it anytime soon.
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