Winning Season Lost to a Black Hole
In a 27-16 defeat in Oakland, the Texans learned, once again, that
while they may be capable of winning any given Sunday, they also
are not good enough to take any team lightly, including the Raiders.
just like that, a four-game winning streak and hopes for the first
winning season were dashed.
beating the Titans a week ago truly was this team's Super Bowl,
then surely the Texans must have felt a weekend trip to California
was their own personal Pro Bowl. And damn if they didn't play like
they were in Honolulu.
was another redzone failure by the offense that spelled doom in
this game. To get there, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye sacked Raiders
quarterback JaMarcus Russell with less than 10 minutes remaining
in the game and his team down by 11.
taking down Russell, Okoye forced a fumble that was recovered by
linebacker Kevin Bentley at the Raiders' 14-yard line. Running back
Steve Slaton moved the football 9 yards in two downs to the 5, and
on third and inches, quarterback Matt Schaub threw an incomplete
pass intended for Kevin Walter.
Fourth and inches, head coach Gary Kubiak could have gone for a
23-yard field goal attempt - hardly further than an extra point
- and narrowed the deficit to just eight points. Always the gambler
though, Kubiak kept Schaub and the offense on the field.
just inches needed for the first down, logic insisted a QB dive
or at least a running play of some sort to gain the new set of downs,
especially with the speedy Slaton, the new single season franchise
leading rusher, in the backfield. But no, the former-quarterback-turned-head-coach
sent Schaub passing for glory, again resulting in an incompletion
is nothing if not gutsy in his offensive playcalling (nevermind
the fact he can't stomach to actually watch any plays near the end
of close games). And had Schaub connected on either of his endzone
passes intended for Walter, there's a very good possibility that
the final outcome might have been different in Oakland.
when a coach goes against the book and fails, especially against
a non-descript Raiders defense with virtually nothing to play for,
then he looks a bit like that strung out gambler who can't push
away from the table.
we just skip this section? With very few exceptions, the entire
team lost this game, from the offense to the defense as well as
the special teams. There were at times some very special efforts
(like Okoye's sack-fumble, Owen Daniels' 7-111, and some decent
play from the safeties), but ultimately this was a winnable game
against a defeatable opponent and the Texans never found a way to
make it happen.
Texans might have been lucky to make it to halftime tied at 13,
but Raiders receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins did his best to ensure
the embarrassment stuck in the third quarter, catching a 29-yard
TD pass and returning an 80-yard punt for a score, the latter coming
within three minutes of the former. That's the kind of performance
that deserves a game ball.
offense never looked Andre Johnson's direction until the fourth
quarter, and the starting wide receiver for the AFC in the 2009
Pro Bowl was held to just two catches on the afternoon. Granted,
he was at many times manned up against a fellow Pro Bowler at cornerback,
Nnamdi Asomugha, but the offense rarely challenged Asomugha with
their best weapon -- a total offensive gameplanning brain fart.
defense won't get off unscathed here though. After shutting down
opponents on third down at a fairly impressive clip in recent games,
they returned to their forgiving ways as the Raiders converted their
third downs 50% of the time.
lastly, the special teams gave up the game's back-breaking play
with the punt return by Higgins. They also looked asleep at the
wheel in the first half when the Raiders recovered a surprise onsides
instead of gunning for their ninth win to close out the year next
Sunday against the Bears, the Texans return home hoping to salvage
a second straight 8-8 season. While an eighth win would tie a franchise
record, an underwhelmed fan base is expected to be in attendance.
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