Alfred Blue and Ryan Mallett give the Texans hope for a post season.
Nov 16, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Houston Texans running back Alfred Blue (28) finds running room against the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Texans won 23-7. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports
Arian Foster, the Texans go to running back is sidelined still due to a groin injury suffered against the Eagles. Going into the game against the Browns, things looked less then ideal for the Texans, then Alfred Blue happened. 36 carries, 156 yards later and the Texans are less pressured to rush Foster back on to the field. Much like the new quarterback, Ryan Mallett whose strong arm, fast tempo and solid play was impressive, it was just one game.
Both Mallett and Blue have to prove that the Cleveland game wasn’t a fluke. They get this chance against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at NRG Stadium. This will be a tough game for both as the Bengals are sitting at 6-3-1 with sole lead of the AFC North thanks to the Texans beating the Browns and their own impressive win against New Orleans. Having to face back to back dome teams on the road isn’t easy. The Bengals proved against the Saints they can get the job done.
Defensively, the Bengals rank 28th against the run, allowing an average of 4.4 yards per carry. That’s right in Blue’s wheel house as he averaged 4.34 yards against a better run defense in the Browns. There is opportunity here for Blue, should Foster sit another game as it appears he may. Getting a chance to play in front of the home crowd, not a bad deal for Blue. Foster has been a great mentor and teammate for Blue helping the young man learn the zen of running from a master. While Blue is not Arian Foster, he does a pretty good impression and we’ll take another chance with him any day of the week.
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On the passing side of the ball the Bengals rank better, 19th, allowing an average of 6.5 yards a pass. Again right in the wheel house of that other new starter, Ryan Mallett. Against the Browns Mallett’s average yards per completion was a healthy 7.0. If Mallett can keep Cincinnati from stacking the box to stop the run with that arm of his chances are both he and Blue, or Foster will have a good game.
One game isn’t the full story, but after a 4-5 start with lots of misfires, miscues, heartbreaks and disasters both Blue and Mallett might just be the shot in the arm the team needs to make a serious run at stealing the AFC South back from the Colts who enjoy a mere one game lead on the Texans as things stand. It won’t be an easy road either. Tennessee’s new QB Zach Mettenberger is giving the Titans their own needed late season revival and they come to Houston after the Bengals. Both games should be winnable however after what should be a win in Jacksonville it’s on to the place where hope dies for the Texans, Lucas Oil Stadium. No Texans team has every tasted the sweet nectar of victor in that building. Beyond that a visit from their old head coach now offensive coordinator in Baltimore and then a wrap up against the Jags. 6 games, 6 must win matches. Blue and Mallett give hope what seemed impossible a mere week ago not so far fetched.
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