See more "pics" in our slideshow from the Texans/Colts game.
The Texans returned home Sunday for their first game in Reliant Stadium in what felt like about a year. Seriously, the last time the Texans played a game at Reliant, we were less than 24 hours removed from Kansas State and Oregon coughing up chances to play in the BCS title game. I mean, that was a long time ago!
So it had to feel great for the Texans to be back in a "home game" routine. And speaking for the media, it was great to be back in the press box for a healthy, Texans-subsidized breakfast of steak fajitas, home fries and nachos. Oh, and the cake. By God, the cake!
Yes, that's breakfast in the press box.
As with any game, there were winners and losers (not including my waistband). Here were some:
4. Gamblers! Let's face it, a big reason why the NFL claims such popularity, and an even bigger reason why there was still an audience for this game as the Texans were grinding the clock into dust on their final drive, is because a spread and a total exist on the game. When the Texans took over inside their own 15 yard line, up by nine points with around five minutes to go, the situation looked perilous for anyone with Texans -10 1/2 on their ticket. But Arian Foster was able to make three huge "degenerate clutch" runs:
- A 26 yard run on 1st and ten from the Houston 19 to get the Texans to near midfield - A 25 yard run to get the ball to the Colts 21 in field goal range - An 8 yard run to fall just short of a first down with under two minutes to go to force the spread covering field goal. (A first down there would've given the Texans a kneel down chance. Perfect!)
And voila! In a game most Texans backers had counted as a loss, the Texans found a way to
win cover. Namaste, Arian!
3. The right stuff, the low price... As I was leaving my building Sunday morning, waiting for the skies to stop dumping millions of gallons of water on our fair city, a woman who was also stupid enough not to own an umbrella engaged me in some small talk. After I told her that I make my living in radio, she strongly suggested that I should mention tomorrow that all 26 area Academy stores will have Texans AFC South Champion gear in stock if the Texans won on Sunday. I, in turn, strongly suggested she contact one of our salespeople to set up an endorsement contract, and that I don't work for free. That said, she did just get a free mention in this blog, and the Texans get an extra week of selling AFC South Champion gear before Christmas. Chalk up another ivory back scratcher for Bob McNair!
Now, here's a question to close out our "Winners" section -- Bigger beast....
2. J.J. Watt 10 solo tackles, 3 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, 4 QB hits.
1. Andre Johnson 11 catches (a few of the spectacular variety), 151 yards, a touchdown.
Answer: Who cares? They're both Texans.
4. Matt Schaub deep ball arm strength The Texans "bread and butter" play is the bootleg off of play action. For whatever reason, the rest of the NFL has not caught up to this play, and at least once every game, the Texans are able to execute it to where Matt Schaub has pretty much every non-lineman open down the field. In this particular game, the Texans ran it on the second play from scrimmage. Andre Johnson was running with about ten yards of separation between him and a Colts player. A simple throw deep to let Andre run underneath it in stride gets the Texans an easy touchdown. Unfortunately, the only thing you can count on more solidly than the Texans running the bootleg play action is Matt Schaub underthrowing Andre Johnson on that play by about ten yards. For the umpteenth time in Matt Schaub's tenure as quarterback, the Texans wound up with a 52 yard consolation prize instead of an easy touchdown, which matters greatly when the Texans are struggling (as they were today) in the red zone.
Speaking of which...
3. Shayne Graham Yeah, four field goals today, but he still missed one right before the half badly, and the final
cover clinching field goal from 33 yards out barely snuck inside the upright, giving gamblers way too close a shave. He doesn't scare anybody on kickoffs either, which is a huge problem considering the Texans mediocre kick coverage teams. Probably a little late to be checking out kickers, and I don't think Kubiak is disenchanted with Graham to the point where he'd start to mess with replacing him. But let's just say that if a playoff game is winding down and t's going to rest on the instep of Shayne Graham, I will need whiskey. Lots of whiskey.
2. A.Q. Shipley I'm not sure what my favorite Shipley play of the day was:
- His fake hamstring injury with under a minute to go in the game to get a free clock stoppage when the Colts had no timeouts. (Go back and watch the game, if you have it on DVR. It's hilarious.)
- Every time he watched J.J. Watt run by him like he was some sort of bald, fat, bearded turnstile.
- Or this... (see pick above)
That's a pretty strong pick right there.
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1. The rest of the AFC As well as the Broncos and Patriots have played since each starting the season 3-3, and as shaky as the Texans have looked over the last month or so, those two teams may just run out of time when it comes to catching the Texans for home field. The Texans emptied a bunch of sand out of the hourglass on Sunday afternoon.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.