Sean Pendergast

Jets 21, Texans 14: How To Lose a Game In Ten Plays

Rookie QB Zach Wilson made enough plays, and the Texans enough mistakes, to get the Jets a 21-14 win on Sunday.
Rookie QB Zach Wilson made enough plays, and the Texans enough mistakes, to get the Jets a 21-14 win on Sunday. Photo by Jack Gorman
Welp, it was fun while it lasted. Last week, I got to do a rare "How To Steal a Game in Ten Plays" post after the Texans literally stole a win in Nashville from the Tennessee Titans. In that game, the Texans had five takeaways, so yes, it was LITERAL stealing. THEY TOOK THINGS AWAY from the Titans! Unfortunately, the good vibes ended after one week.

It wasn't a blowout loss like the last time the Texans were at home, a 38-22 loss to the Rams in which the Texans trailed 38-0 in the second half. It was a much closer game, but a much lesser opponent than the Rams in the New York Jets, and the Texans bumbled their way to a 21-14 loss to rookie quarterback Zach Wilson and Jets head coach (and former Texans assistant) Robert Saleh.

In a one score game like that, there are any number of plays that could have swung the game in the Texans' favor. Let's take a look at ten of them right now in the latest edition of "How To Lose a Game In Ten Plays":

1. JETS INTERCEPTION
2nd & 9 at NYJ 17 (9:12)
T.Taylor pass short middle intended for D.Johnson INTERCEPTED by J.Franklin-Myers at NYJ 31. J.Franklin-Myers to HOU 37 for 32 yards (D.Johnson)
This was on the Texans' opening drive, and they were doing a nice job of methodically working the ball into the Jets' red zone, even with David Johnson touching the ball SIX TIMES. Yes, there was a successful drive going that was centered around David Freaking Johnson. However, you know the old saying — "Don't get greedy and target David Johnson a seventh time!" (I don't know if anyone has ever said that, but they SHOULD). That's what happened here, handing the Jets three points.

15 Yard Penalty
2nd & 5 at NYJ 35 (5:59)
(Shotgun) Z.Wilson pass incomplete short right. PENALTY on HOU-J.Johnson, Roughing the Passer, 15 yards, enforced at NYJ 35 - No Play
Here, the Texans were up 14-3, and had all the momentum. Rookie QB Zach Wilson was flummoxed and the Texans were putting heat on him the whole first half. Then Jaleel Johnson decided to rip Zach Wilson's helmet off and all of a sudden the Jets found themselves at midfield. A few minutes later, they would get into the end zone  for their first touchdown of the day.

2PT Conversion Success
XP attempt from HOU 2
TWO-POINT CONVERSION ATTEMPT. J.Johnson rushes right guard. ATTEMPT SUCCEEDS
This was a turning point, not so much for the actual conversion, but because prior to this, as the Jets ran their offense onto the field to try for two points, the Texans went straight CULLEY and had about 20 confused guys running on and off the field, forcing David Culley to burn a timeout. The Texans' head coach is a mess.

8 Yard Penalty
4th & 8 at HOU 16 (8:26)
M.Ammendola 34 yard field goal is GOOD, NULLIFIED by Penalty, Center-T.Hennessy, Holder-B.Mann. PENALTY on HOU-R.Blacklock, Leverage, 8 yards, enforced at HOU 16 - No Play
This was not a great sequence for second year defensive tackle Ross Blacklock. First, this 15 yard penalty for leverage on a field goal attempt allowed the Jets another crack at the end zone, down 14-11. Then....

4 Yard Penalty
1st & Goal at HOU 8 (8:23)
(Shotgun) Z.Wilson sacked at HOU 14 for -6 yards (J.Martin). PENALTY on HOU-R.Blacklock, Defensive Offside, 4 yards, enforced at HOU 8 - No Play
....on the very next play from scrimmage, Blacklock jumped offsides, negating a Jacob Martin sack that would have made it 2nd and goal from the 14. Instead, it was 1st and goal from the 4 yard line, and the Jets scored shortly after this to go up 18-14, a lead they would never relinquish.

-19 Yard Sack
3rd & 13 at NYJ 37 (4:06)
(Shotgun) T.Taylor sacked at HOU 44 for -19 yards (Q.Williams)
A consistent theme for the Texans, aside from second half offensive ineptitude, was getting into Jets territory and coming away with no points. It happened on their first drive with the interception. It happened on this drive when 2nd down from the Jets' 32 yard line, and at least a likely field goal attempt to cut the Jets lead to 18-17, turned into a punt from the Texans' 44 yard line because of this sack. The third time the Texans got into Jets territory and came away empty was.....

Field Goal No Good
4th & 10 at NYJ 37 (9:58)
K.Fairbairn 55 yard field goal is No Good, Wide Left, Center-J.Weeks, Holder-C.Johnston
....because Ka'imi Fairbairn sucks.

13 Yard Pass
4th & 5 at HOU 37 (7:06)
(Shotgun) Z.Wilson pass short middle to K.Cole to HOU 24 for 13 yards (K.Grugier-Hill)
If you're looking for the biggest difference between these two teams, look no further than the clean way in which Jets head coach Robert Saleh handled two fourth down situations on the Jets' final scoring drive. First there was this play on 4th and 5 from the Texans' 37 yard line. No hesitation, good play call, fourth down converted. Then....

7 Yard Run
4th & 1 at HOU 15 (4:45)
E.Moore left end to HOU 8 for 7 yards (K.Grugier-Hill)
...after taking a time out and reportedly some begging from his OC Mike LaFleur, Saleh went for it again on this nifty end around to their best playmaker. That's coaching.

-1 Yard Run
3rd & 1 at HOU 40 (2:48)
(No Huddle, Shotgun) R.Burkhead up the middle to HOU 39 for -1 yards (E.Riley)
The Texans true last gasp at a comeback was snuffed out when the worst rushing team in the league couldn't gain a yard in third down, even while using the running back that David Culley said last week ALWAYS gets at least a yard for you.

Six games left. We can do this, people.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast