Mallett started the game and looked uncomfortable; maybe his nerves got the best of him. He didn’t get help as Garrett Graham dropped 2 early passes and wide receiver Keith Mumphrey dropped a key 3rd down conversion deep in the red zone, forcing the Texans to settle for a field goal to go up 3-0 in the first quarter. Outside of an early miscommunication between Alfred Blue and Mallett, the offense looked decent and moved down the field.
The defense started strong, forcing two straight 3 and outs. It was good to see Jadeveon Clowney getting early pressure on Panther’s quarterback Cam Newton. There was consistent pressure from all sides, and the defense had a hand in altering 3 out of the first 6 pass attempts by Carolina.
More from Houston Texans News
- Houston Texans: Can Sean Payton really be the next head coach?
- Houston Texans Draft: Michael Mayer should be a no doubter at pick 12
- Houston Texans already telling fans the Davis Mills era is over
- Houston Texans have hand forced, waste no time in firing Lovie Smith
- Houston Texans: Pros and Cons of keeping Head Coach Lovie Smith
Overall, the entire first quarter was a great display of good defense and a lot of penalties.
I witnessed J.J. Watt make a mistake late in the first quarter, quite possibly the only mistake he consistently makes. He shoots up field to get after the quarterback, leaving his run gap along the line of scrimmage wide open. The Panthers tried to exploit that gap constantly, and had success at least one time that I noticed for a first down run on a draw play.
Early in the second quarter, J.J. Watt did the same thing where he shot up the field and the Panthers ran right to the void he created. He needs to keep is run gap integrity for the defense to have a chance to be consistent.
Cam Newton then followed up the gashing run with a deep bomb to Ted Ginn Jr. for the first touchdown on the day. Carolina took a 7-3 lead with 11 minutes to go in the first half.
The Texans certainly still need help on special teams; they simply give up to much great field position on punt returns and kickoffs.
The whole second quarter was an ugly one for the Texans. The offense looked stagnant, with questionable play calling. The time of possession made it almost physically impossible for the defense to keep up with the Panther’s offensive attack. As a result, they slowly started to fall behind and Cam Newton engineered two scoring drives.
The defense finally rose to the occasion and forced a red zone turnover by hitting Cam Newton’s throwing arm and intercepting a pass in the end zone with just over 2 minutes to go in the half.
Starting right tackle Jeff Adams went down late in the second quarter with a right knee injury and had to be carted off of the field. The injury situation for the Texans can never seem to fall in their favor. After already missing pro-bowl starting LT Duane Brown, left guard Xavier Su’a Filo, tight end Garrett Graham, and running back Arian Foster; Jeff Adams left and C.J. Fiedorowicz had to exit with a lower body injury. The offensive unit is dropping like flies, and the inconsistency and stagnation can be justified to a certain degree.
The Texans came out running to start the second half, and Chris Polk rewarded the play call by ripping off a 12 yard gain. They quickly gained enough yards for 2 first downs and quickly shifted gears into their hurry-up mode, in which Ryan Mallett seems to thrive. They went down the field and into the red zone with urgency, and seeing the Texans make adjustments and perform well to start the second half was a great sign. They capped off the drive with a laser strike touchdown throw to Garrett Graham in the back of the end zone, and tied the game 10-10.
The Texans killed themselves on defense with penalties on Carolina’s opening drive of the second half. Johnathan Joseph made a crucial defensive holding call on 3rd and 10 and on a play where Rahim Moore recorded his second interception of the game, safety Quentin Demps was called for defensive holding. The Panthers converted this drive into a touchdown, and it’s frustrating to know the Texans stopped them TWICE, but shot themselves in the foot.
It’s easy to see why the quarterback position can determine where your team goes come December. Cam Newton is not an elite quarterback in the slightest, but his athletic ability alone gives the Carolina offense life and a chance in each and every game. Newton created time and converted some key first downs with his legs.
The Texans finally had good position to start a drive in the fourth quarter and then seemingly had converted on a 3rd and 10 when Cecil Shorts III dropped a key conversion following a hit across the middle of the field.
Mallett made the crucial mistake of throwing an interception, and it was especially critical as it was in the fourth quarter. He seemed to have pre-determined the area of the field he wanted to go to due to the pre-snap pressure shown. He attempted to look off any coverage, but as soon as he glanced back, he let the ball go and found the middle linebacker sitting and waiting right where he wanted to go up the seam.
The Panthers then came out firing and took a deep shot to the end zone off of a brilliant play fake, converting the turnover into instant points. They took the lead 24-10 with 8:53 to go in the 4th quarter.
Ryan Mallett came out and answered with a 48 yard strike to Nate Washington, who was tackled by grass. It should have been a touchdown, but this is the Texan’s luck. Literally nothing could break their way today.
Mallett then made a great decision to tuck and run on 4th and short from the 5 yard line, and rumbled into the end zone to bring the Texans with seven points. The score was then 24-17 with 6:31 remaining in the 4th quarter.
The Houston defense got the ball back into the hands of the offense, and the offense moved the ball within the red zone down by 7 points.
Facing a 3rd and 4 from the 20 yard line with 32 seconds to go in the game, Kony Ealy made another crucial mistake for Carolina by jumping offsides and giving the Texans a new set of downs.
I don’t remember being on the edge of my seat more for a Houston game outside of the Dallas contest in 2014 that went into overtime. Mallett had a questionable shovel attempt to avoid a sack, and the call was intentional grounding with time dwindling.
There were 17 seconds left on the clock upon the incompletion, and the Texans were left with two chances to get into the end zone from the 26 yard line.
The first went short to Chris Polk just to make it more manageable, and the second was an incompletion to DeAndre Hopkins in the back of the end zone.
The Texans fell to 0-2 on another Sunday of sloppy play and horrid penalties. If they want to salvage the season, they need to do some serious soul searching and right the ship against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they return home in week 3.