It's been a while since we've done one of these — a breakdown of the Texans' performance following a loss. After going the entire month of November undefeated, the Texans started off December, to some degree, the way they ended October. By losing a football game. However, unlike the October 25 loss to the Dolphins, in which the Texans were totally overwhelmed and looked like they wanted to play any sport other than football, at least on Sunday, when the Bills punched, the Texans punched back.
In the end, though, the Bills made more plays (six of them for 20 yards or longer) and the Texans dealt with a mobile quarterback like he was an alien, and the Bills wound up winning 30-21. There were winners and losers, let's knock this out quickly...
4. Tyrod Taylor
On Friday, in my "Four Things To Watch For" for this game, I cited Taylor's mobility as a potential issue for a defense who just finished up a stretch of Mettenberger, Dalton, Fitzpatrick, and Brees. As it turned out, Taylor was able to hurt the Texans scrambling, but even more than that, he hurt them by keeping plays alive with his feet and avoiding negative plays. The Texans had one sack and just three QB hits on the entire afternoon. That was compounded by big plays in the passing game, in particular to….
3. Former Clemson WR's
….Sammy Watkins. Watkins had just three catches, but they went for 109 yards, and included two huge, field position swinging 53 yard catches. Meanwhile, Watkins' former Clemson teammate, DeAndre Hopkins, had five catches for 88 yards, and three of those came on one drive, including a touchdown catch, his tenth of the season giving him the first double digit receiving TD season in Texans' history. Not a bad time to be a former Clemson WR. (And literally, as I type this, another former Tiger, Martavis Bryant caught a 68 yard touchdown against the Colts.)
2. Chrisathan Grimypolk
This is my name for the two headed, Polk-and-Grimes monster the Texans used at running back on Sunday, or as many Texans fans like to call them, "two guys not named Alfred Blue." Polk was the leading rusher on the day, with 61 yards on 12 carries, and he added a pinball 11 yard touchdown catch and run. Grimes, meanwhile, averaged over 5.5 yards per carry on his five carries. If this is the committee Bill O'Brien wants to go with, then I'm cool with that. Just leave Alfred Blue (4 carries, 14 yards) off the committee.
1. Brock Osweiler
Unrelated to the Texans, except if you still consider Gary Kubiak a lifetime member of the Texans' family, Osweiler won his third game in a row as the Broncos starting quarterback. This will get very interesting when the doctors clear Peyton Manning to play again, not so much because there's a decision to be made (Kubiak has already indicated Manning gets the job back when he returns), but because Osweiler has been steadier than Manning was. Do you let Peyton come back and torpedo your season just because he's Peyton Manning?
4. Old issues
During the Texans four game winning streak, they cleaned up a lot of the little things that plagued them during their 2-5 starts. Fewer penalties, better special teams play, tackling, catching the football — these all became strengths in November. Well, on Sunday, the Texans had a relapse. Ten penalties, shoddy special teams play (missed PAT, even!), several drops of catchable balls (although Hoyer threw way too many balls that were just a little off). The only positive I can say is that the Texans fought back when they got down. If this game were played six weeks ago, they'd have been down 21-0 at the half. Oh, one other area in which they had issues...
3. John Simon
….setting the edge. LeSean McCoy ate away at the edges all day long. Yeah, looking at you, Simon!
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2. Kevin Johnson
For a rookie who has been stellar all season, Sunday was a rough one, especially down in the red zone….
Kevin Johnson. 6 targets 3 completions 58 yards 2 TDs Dropped INT. #Texans— PDS (@PatDStat) December 7, 2015
1. Week 14 Texans
So the Patriots come to town next week in a game that's been flexed into prime time, and they are coming off a 35-28 loss to an Eagles team that had quit on the season a week prior. In that game, the Pats botched an onside kick, gave up a touchdown on a blocked punt and a 99 yard pick six. I'm guessing the Patriots are coming to town with a frame of mind that is not optimal for a Texans upset.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.