Be sure to check out the rest of our pics from Sunday's game.
As we were driving slowly down Murworth to park in the Teal Lot before the Texans game on Sunday, my girlfriend Amy and I noticed a father with two boys (presumably his sons) around the ages of nine or ten stopped on the sidewalk having a heated discussion. Clearly, the younger of the two was in some kind of hot water as we overheard the father lobbing the empty threat of "Okay fine, we WON'T go to the game!"
(And when I say we "overheard" the father chiding his son, yes, we had rolled down the window so we could hear the tirade. Schadenfreude.)
My thoughts on this as it was occurring:
1. As a child, I heard the "Fine, we won't do the [fill in name of 'expensive, previously planned for months in advance' activity here]" on occasion. As an adult, I realize what utter bullshit this threat is. If any kids out there are reading this, just know you would have to shove your younger sister into an oncoming bus and then pee on her corpse in order for your parents to eat a thousand dollars worth of football tickets. Anything short of that, the show will go on. Just trust me.
2. After hearing the empty threats of that Murworth parent, I'm pretty sure we could hire any parent of a truculent second grader to run the NCAA and we wouldn't even know the difference. If you don't stop paying these players, we're not going to let you go to Tempe next year, and if you think I'm kidding, just try me!
3. The kid had a Matt Schaub jersey on. In my opinion, it would've been a much more effective threat if the father told the kid that he would have to wear a David Carr jersey if he didn't settle down. (I'm a very innovative parent when I want to be.)
As it turns out, maybe the kid should've pushed his sister into traffic to see if his old man would follow through on the threat because the ending of yesterday's Texans-Raiders game was a swift kick in the junk, an alternative ending to the same soul-crushing movie we've seen for three years now.
Consider the following categories in which the Texans held a decided statistical advantage:
-- First downs (21 to 11) -- Total yards (473 to 278) -- Third down efficiency (40 percent to 20 percent) -- Penalties (Texans committed six for 50 yards, the Raiders eleven for 89 yards) -- Time of possession (34:25 to 25:35)
And in the end, all that seemed to matter were the categories where the Raiders held the edge:
-- Turnovers forced (2 to 1) -- Ghosts of dead owners (1 to 0) -- Points (25 to 20)
The Raiders won the game on Sunday, an emotional one for a team that had lost its patriarch Al Davis less than 48 hours before kickoff when he passed away at the age of 82. As always, within the win on the scoreboard for the Raiders, there were individual winners and losers. Here they are:
WINNERS 4. Gary Kubiak's tight end fetish With Andre Johnson out with a hamstring injury, Gary Kubiak had to figure out new and exciting ways to get the ball down the field. We all know that Kubiak has had a fetish with tight ends over the last few years, and today that fetish paid off with Joel Dreessen (five catches, 112 yards, one touchdown) and Owen Daniels (seven catches for 89 yards) doing the most damage to the Raiders in the passing game. Kubiak's tight end addiction is easily my favorite fetish that doesn't involve Rex Ryan uttering the words "Can I smell them?"
3. Brian Cushing I don't know why Brian Cushing appears to have regained his maniacal edge from two seasons ago, and frankly I don't care. I'm just glad he has it back. On Sunday, he was tossing Raiders around like they had trashed his Trans Am and covered it in graffiti.
2. Bribery So the Texans have always had an issue with fans being in their seats in time for the opening kickoff, due in large part to years of piss-poor football and the allure of much cheaper beer in the parking lot. Techniques employed to get fans to enter the stadium sooner have included begging as well as the installation of a horn that blows fifteen minutes prior to kickoff to remind fans that the sweet mojo of .500 football and nine dollar beers awaits. Both tactics have failed. So now the Texans will try and cajole you into the stadium the good ol' fashioned way -- bribery! Each Sunday, one lucky EARLY ARRIVING fan will become 100 Texan bucks richer! So by eschewing the lure of cheap beer and homemade tailgate grub, you may have a one in several thousand chance to buy half an Andre Johnson jersey! Cue Clay Walker!
1. Hyperbole Hue Jackson, Raiders head coach after the game: "I know nobody picked us to win this game. Nobody thought we could win this game and we did."
Someone needs to tell Hue that the line on the game went from Texans minus 7 at the beginning of the week to Texans minus 6 on Friday to Texans minus 4.5 at game time. Someone believed in the Raiders. Degenerates believed in the Raiders. (By the way, few things are more annoying than the "nobody believed in us" when, in fact, there were believers. It's not like the Raiders were a two-touchdown underdog.)
LOSERS 4. Matt Schaub I've been a staunch a Schaub supporter as anybody, but I think if you ask the question is Matt Scahub a quarterback who you can count on to go win a game for you, the possession arrow is pointed toward "No." Against the Saints a couple weeks ago, Schaub was awesome the entire day except for the red zone and in the fourth quarter, which is like saying we really enjoyed our meal except for the wine and steak. Against the Raiders, Schaub had a mind-boggling seven passes batted down by the Raiders defensive line and was just a little off all day long, clearly missing Andre Johnson. Right now, there's the first tier of quarterbacks (Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Rivers, Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning when healthy) and then there's a second tier full of guys who can't seem to get out of their own way when it matters most -- Vick, Eli Manning, Ryan, Sanchez, Romo, and Schaub. Of course, today Schaub wasn't done any favors by.... 3. Jacoby Jones I've said it before and I am now one thousand percent certain -- Jacoby Jones is not an NFL wide receiver and will never be a capable NFL wide receiver. In a league where making 99 percent of the routine plays is barely acceptable, he makes like 80 percent of the routine plays (if that), which would be fine expect he has never once made a single play offensively that's bailed out his quarterback. Not a single spectacular offensive play that makes you say "Wow, good thing we have Jacoby Jones on our team." Not one.
When you ask anyone who is pro-Jones what he brings to the table the answers are some variation of "He has great athletic ability" (Big deal, go do the decathlon) or "He's been in the system for five years" (It's football, not a tenured public schools teaching position). And that's just it -- he HAS been in the system five years now, and shows NO progress. Zero. None. He is who he is, a cardboard cutout of a wide receiver who still comes out of breaks and runs routes so carelessly that it looks like Matt Schaub drew the play up in the dirt. He was targeted eleven times yesterday and caught ONE pass for nine yards. If that doesn't reverberate with you then go look at box scores for games around the NFL and see what normal catch-to-target ratios are. To catch one ball and be targeted ELEVEN times, you almost have to be trying not to catch balls. Or you're Jacoby Jones. If you need one easy-to-find shred of evidence that he just doesn't get it, watch the final play. Basic, remedial wide receiver instinct tells you to peel off and run to space in the direction your quarterback is rolling to help your guy make a play. Once the play broke down, Jacoby was clueless and stayed glued to Michael Huff's hip. Bad throw by Schaub, worse improvisation by Jacoby.
2. Special teams I don't know Joe Marciano, but everybody I talk to who does says he's a peach of a fella. That's all well and good, I'm just wondering when at least some rumbling begins about changes in special teams leadership. The last few years, at their best, the Texans special teams have been average. Most of the time they've lacked impact (return game) or been downright detrimental (anything involving Matt Turk last season). Today was one of the worst collective special teams efforts of the Kubiak Era:
-- They had a missed field goal and a punt blocked, falling one onside kick surrendered and a muffed punt short of hitting for the Shitty Special Teams cycle. -- They got nothing out of the return game, punt or kickoff -- Early in the fourth quarter, on a fourth and short, the Raiders ran a fake punt and Rock Cartwright was carrying the ball down the sidelines while the Texans outside guys were still blocking the Raiders gunner! It was actually kind of funny. -- With 8:22 left, Jacoby Jones kept his horrid day alive by fair-catching a Raider punt at the Texans seven-yard line. -- With two minutes to go, the Texans received Oakland's final punt and tried to run some sort of fake throwback play between Jones and David Anderson, instead of letting Jacoby do the one thing he does well -- run to daylight instinctually on punt returns.
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As "days at the office" go, Joe Marciano had a Jack Bauer kind of day yesterday.
1. Pectoral muscles In the four years that I've been back in Houston, I can't remember one Texan having their season put in jeopardy by a pectoral muscle injury. Today, they had two in the same game, Mario Williams and James Casey.
That's what kind of day it was.
Check out Sean's updated Texans Game Card here. Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.