This week the Houston Texans proved that they have what it takes to hang with some of the best teams in the league. Their defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been downplayed by some as they attempt to invalidate the Texans season. However, the Texans went into this game knowing that they were playing a team who, just last season, stood atop the AFC and played in the Super Bowl.
For the Texans this game was a monumental win…and for more reasons than one might expect. First, the Texans needed this win to stay in first place in the AFC South. Second, this win proved that the Texans could hold their own against a team who was considered to be better than they were. Lastly, this win proved that the Texans can pick themselves up, dust themselves off and win a game without their star wide receiver for most of the game.
That being said, here are this week’s top plays from the Houston Texans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game.
Owen Daniels TD Reception
Imagine this if you will. You are storming down the field, having gone 94 yards on more than 18 plays. You have the ball on the half yard line and you have a notoriously bad red zone offense. Your star running back, Arian Foster, has returned from his prior injury and is lined up in an offset-I formation for this play. You have eight players on the line and you snap the ball. What do you do now?
If you are the Steelers you totally buy into the play action pass and go after Foster. If you are the Texans you know that they are going to buy into the fake hand-off and roll your TE Owen Daniels into the flats of the endzone where he is left completely alone.
This play was the culmination of the Texans longest drive in team history. What started at their own five yard line ended with a beautiful play action pass to Daniels for the first score of the game.
The execution of this play was perfect as the Texans had been gouging the Steelers with their run game up to this point. Selling the hand-off to Foster was a stroke of genius and, as described, worked exactly as planned.
Arian Foster’s 42-yard Scamper
Most Texans fans were truly concerned about how effective RB Arian Foster would be after being sidelined with a hamstring injury for two weeks. His reply was spelled out in LARGE, bold footprints as he ran all over the Steelers weak run defense.
If there was any doubt to whether or not Foster had returned to true form let us look at the fourth quarter. With 12:11 left in the game the Texans had the ball, with 1 and 10, on the Steelers 42 yard line. QB Matt Schaub was under center with Foster lined up about five yards behind him. Schaub took the snap, dropped back a few steps, and handed the ball to Foster.
Foster quickly cut left, looking for a hole to run through. Realizing that there was no opening on the left side of the field, Foster cut back to the right and turned on the afterburners. He cut outside, leaving Steelers S Troy Polamalu eating grass, and blazed his way into the endzone. The look on Polamalu’s face was priceless as he is not used to being torched by running backs. However, this was the second time that Arian had humiliated Polamalu.
Arian Foster’s Cut Back and Evasion of Troy Polamalu
The Texans were pinned deep in their own territory in the second quarter. With the ball on the four yard line Matt Schaub decided to do what made the most sense…give the ball to Arian Foster. Schaub, in the shotgun, took the snap inside the endzone, handed the ball off to Foster and began to pray!
Steelers S Troy Polamalu came on the blitz from the strong side and locked his sights on Foster. This is where it gets good!
Foster, feeling the pressure from Polamalu, hopped (yes, I mean he literally hopped) to the right and evaded Polamalu. He regained his balance and took off down the field for a 20 yard gain. The fleet-footedness of Foster was a sight for sore eyes. His gracefulness on the field ensured that the Texans would not remain pinned deep within their own territory and proved, yet again, that he was back to true form.
Honorable Mentions: Gary Kubiak’s @$$ chewing of the Texans offense and Johnathan Joseph’s two almost touchdowns
For years I have questioned the coaching ability of Gary Kubiak. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he could coordinate an offense. Defensively, however, he sucked!
Game after game fans had to watch as the Texans crumbled under pressure. We had to listen to the complacency of Kubiak in his post-game press conferences as he “felt responsible” for many losses.
After the Texans had gone three-and-out the camera panned to the Texans sideline. What we saw was a miracle. Gary Kubiak was giving the Texans offense a proverbial @$$ chewing. You could see the frustration and anger flowing out of Coach Kubiak as he verbally assaulted the weak performance of the offense.
The result of this “confrontation”? The Texans went out on their next possession and scored the go-ahead touchdown.
Lastly, Jonathan Joseph showed why he deserves the huge paycheck that the Texans are paying him. He had two huge plays which, if not for stupid penalties, would have resulted in two additional TDs for the team.
On the first play Danieal Manning blocks a field-goal attempt by the Steelers. Joseph runs after the ball, sweeps it up off the field, and proceeds to run the ball in for what should have been a TD. Unfortunately, Manning (the same one that blocked the kick in the first place) blocked a player in the back and the TD was negated.
The second big play that Joseph had was an interception of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. Joseph snatched the ball from the air at the Steelers 22 yard line and, once again, ran the ball into the endzone for what should have been another TD. This time, however, DE J.J. Watt made contact with Roethlisberger after Ben had thrown the ball. Watt was called for roughing the passer (although the refs totally botched this call) and the TD was once again negated.
No matter, Joseph made great defensive plays that, under normal circumstances, would have netted the team an additional 14 points. That, in my opinion, is worthy of being part of this week’s top plays.
If you missed it, be sure to check out Rick’s Rants, Raves and Review of the game too!