What a thrilling game this was today. The Houston Texans came into this game a little unsure of how rookie QB T.J. Yates would handle the pressure of his first NFL start. By the end of the first half you could tell that the Texans were more sure of his abilities than at the onset of the game. When the final seconds ticked off the clock at the end of the game, however, you would have thought that Yates was the savior sent from the football gods.
There were a few things that stuck out to me about Yates’ first start in the NFL. Firstly, Yates looked very poised and mature for this being his rookie premiere. He started out a little shaky, as any NFL player did in their first game, but by the end of the first quarter you could tell that he was comfortable with the responsibility thrust upon him. He stuck in the pocket when he needed to and scrambled for positive yardage when it was available. He read the defense well, used his checks when necessary, and if nothing was available he got rid of the ball – impressive.
The second thing that impressed me about Yates was
his awareness of everything around him. There were a couple of plays when pressure came from his blind side and he simply turned his shoulders and let the defender run right past him. That sort of move is typically indicative of a veteran player not a rookie. Likewise, he kept his eyes downfield and made the plays that he needed to make even while under pressure.
Lastly, I was impressed with the fact that Yates was not afraid to make big plays. Early in the second quarter Yates provided WR Andre Johnson with his longest reception of the year. The 50-yard bomb from Yates to Johnson not only set up a touchdown but also sent the stadium into a frenzy. Fans were going wild and even began chanting “T.J., T.J., T.J”. The rookie quarterback had come into his first game as a starter and was already winning the hearts of the fans and, for that matter, the coaches.
Oddly enough the Texans and Falcons finished with the exact same amount of total yardage at 337 yards. Yates finished 12/25 for 188 yards and a touchdown. He should have had two INTs but the Falcons were gracious enough to provide penalties that offset both interception, including a penalty that negated a pick-six.
In my question and answer with Jamie Kelly of Blogging Dirty I made three key points which were all validated in today’s game. The following are the questions asked followed by my responses:
"Arian Foster and Ben Tate are both having big years for both the Texans and my fantasy team! How do you rate their chances against the stout Falcons run D that is ranked 2nd in the NFL?I truly believe that Foster and Tate will have a decent showing against the Falcons. The Texans have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL (#3 according to NFL.com) and they are a huge factor behind the success of the Texans run game.How do the Texans beat the Falcons?"
"For the Texans to beat the Falcons they MUST establish the run game. The Falcons have had seven games where they have held the opponent to less than 100 yards rushing. Of those seven games two of them had less than 50 yards of rushing by the opponent. The Texans must overcome the Falcons dominant rush defense in order to be successful.Also, the Texans must find a way to force turnovers by the Falcons. In each of the Falcons’ losses they have had a negative turnover ratio. The Texans must find a way to get the ball away from the Falcons and convert those turnovers into points. Likewise, the Texans must secure the ball and prevent the Falcons from obtaining good field position.Finally, your predictions for the game."
"Eight times this season the Texans have held opponents to less than 20 points. Three of those times the opponents scores were only single digits. This has been due to the great success of the Texans defense and dominant run game. That being said I am calling this game in favor of the Texans due to home-field advantage."
So, not only did the Texans running backs have a “decent” showing against the Falcons but they had the most rushing yards of any team the Falcons have faced this season. Behind RB Arian Foster and Ben Tate along with QB T.J. Yates, the Texans amassed 162 total rushing yards, more than double that of the Falcons last opponents.
Also, the Texans did in fact force turnovers by the Falcons – two of them. The Texans had a fumble, which was recovered by the Falcons, but they managed to finish with a +1 turnover rate in this game.
Finally, the Texans held their sixth straight opponent to less than 20 points. In fact, in every win that the Texans have this season they have held their opponents to less than 15 points. The fans played a big part in today’s victory for the Texans and those who were in attendance said that this was the loudest game they have ever been to.
Be prepared Texans fans, if you doubted the abilities of Yates then now is the time to jump on the Yates bandwagon.
The Texans travel to Cincinnati next week to take on the 7-5 Bengals. This game will carry major implications for the Texans. If the Texans can win against the Bengals, and the Tennessee Titans lose against the Saints, the Texans will clinch the AFC South. So fans, what is your prediction for next weeks game?