Welcome to this week’s edition of Rick’s Rants, Raves, and Review. This week I will dissect the Houston Texans victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. While this victory was a much needed one, there were still plenty of things that could have gone better. Whether you agree or disagree the Texans played a sloppy game yesterday and were lucky to come away with a win.
Let’s face it, the Texans almost penalized themselves into a loss yesterday. Perhaps the greatest bonehead penalty of the game was Danieal Manning’s illegal block in the back as Johnathan Joseph scooped up a blocked field goal and raced towards the opposing end-zone.
Editor Doug Farrar, of Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner, called this penalty “one of the worst” he has ever seen and I would have to agree. Its not as if Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham is the most athletic player on the field. Its not as if he really had a chance of catching up to, let alone tackling, Johnathan Joseph.
Nor was it likely that the NFL referees made a great call either.
If you watched the game you would have seen that Manning was in the process of going for the block on Suisham as Joseph was still chasing down the ball. As per league rules, since neither team is on offense or defense while the ball remains loose, there are no restrictions on the type of contact allowed as long as all players are making legitimate efforts to recover it. Now, once a player gains full control of the ball, the teams become offense/defense and contact rules are enforced.
Therefore, Manning was in the right as he began to make the block on Suisham before Joseph gained possession of the ball. Now, I know that many people will say that he should not have blocked the kicker but Suisham was only a few yards behind the ball and was making an active pursuit to recover the ball…I would have blocked him too!
However, that penalty was only one of two calls that the refs blew. The second penalty that, in my opinion, was a worse call than the first, was the roughing the passer call on Texans DE J.J. Watt. Watt was actively engaged with Steelers C Maurkice Pouncy, made a move towards Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and was tripped by T Marcus Gilbert. He fell forward hitting Roethlisberger in the right knee. Apparently, in an attempt to protect the QB, the referees feel that a player is guilty of a penalty regardless of the fact that IT WAS NOT HIS FAULT!
Still, the Texans managed to amass nine penalties for 64 yards. This sloppy play can not, in any way, be productive for a team.
My only other rant for this game was the injury to Texans captain, offensive leader, and superstar – WR Andre Johnson. Seeing Johnson go down as if he had just taken a bullet in the leg was too painful to watch. I believe that the entire Texans nation held its collective breath. The final word on his injury is still out but from initial reports, and from the cryptic message in Gary Kubiak’s press conference, it appears that the Texans could be without Johnson for a few weeks.
In the words of Harry Dunne,
Just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this…and totally redeem yourself!
The Texans blew a big lead last week and everyone knew it. This week, however, they defeated a team that many predicted they would lose to. They had lost the previous two matchups against the Steelers and, with last year’s performance, were not expected to perform well against the defensive heavy yellow-and-black.
This victory was a huge win for the Texans defense. After Andre Johnson went down in the second quarter it was expected that the Texans would suffer a complete meltdown. However, when the Steelers took possession of the ball late in the third quarter, the Texans defense stepped up huge!
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger took a shotgun snap at the Texans 45 yard line on third down with seven yards to go and 2:45 left in the game. He shuffled back a few steps fired the ball deep down the left side of the field and it was deflected. Then, with 2:38 left to go, the Steelers decided to go for it on fourth down and seven yards to go. Roethlisberger again takes the snap from the shotgun, again shuffles back a few steps and then fires over the middle. Texans OLB Connor Barwin got a hand up and deflected the ball, giving the Texans the ball and excellent field position.
After the Texans go three-and-out the Steelers once again gain possession of the ball.
Now keep in mind that the Texans’ lead is only seven points in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers line up at their own 39 yard line, Roethlisberger takes the snap from the shotgun (do you see a pattern here), drops back and fires a huge pass down field to the Texans 14 yard line where it is caught…by Texans CB Jason Allen! This play sealed the fate of the Steelers and gave the Texans a huge win at home.
Last, but definitely not the least of my raves, is the triumphant return of RB Arian Foster. Foster looked like he had returned to his 2010 form as he gashed the Steelers defense for 155 rushing yards and a TD. In fact, Foster looked so good that he shook Steelers SS Troy Polamalu right out of his shoes…he then went on to gain 20 yards on that play.
Later in the game (fourth quarter) Foster showed that he is, in fact, back to his old self. The Texans had the ball at the Steelers 42 yard line. QB Matt Schaub took the snap from under center ran back and handed the ball off to Foster who ran for the left side of the offensive line. Seeing that there is no hole available to run through he cuts back to the right, avoids two tackles, and steam rolls the Steelers defense as he prances into the endzone.
Having Arian Foster back, for the Texans, is like having your sense of smell back…it just makes everything better.
This game, in my opinion, was a must win for the Texans. In order to prove that they could defeat teams who had a solid defense they had to win this game. To win the game without their star WR for most of the game was even more impressive.
The Texans face the Oakland Raiders at home next week. Without WR Andre Johnson the Texans will be moving Jacoby Jones into the one slot, Kevin Walter should move into the two slot, and Bryant Johnson should be lining up in the three slot.
Texans fans showed up en masse this week, setting an all-time attendance record of 70,974. They left the game enthralled by the performance of the team and will be looking for a repeat performance next week.
The Texans sit atop the AFC South…but not by much. The Titans are also 3-1 but the Texans victory over the Colts gives them a 1-0 division record and keeps them in the lead. The team is tied with 10 other teams for the third best record in the league (the Packers and Lions remain undefeated) and will look to improve upon that next week.
If you missed Rick’s Rants, Raves, and Review from last week you can check it out here.
Highlights from the Texans vs. Steelers Match-up: