Texans-Lions: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

This post is for all of you Houston Texan fans who:

1. ...were able to survive the over-the-top gorging and carb overload that comes with the Thanksgiving holiday every year, and...

2. ...were able to survive a game that included two turnovers and two missed field goals in overtime, and...

3. ...actually get on the internet on a day off and browse the blogs and hit your usual hot spots.

Yes, this post is for all four of you. And a hearty thanks for reading. Let's get going with some quick hit winners and losers. I got leftovers to eat!


4. Testicular fortitude On his weekly appearance on my radio show on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio this past Monday, Texans defensive end Antonio Smith said that he was glad the Jaguars game played out the way it did. Despite the fact that the Jags were 1-8 and the Texans were 8-1, Smith's thinking was that a game where the Texans had to prove their mettle a little bit and come from behind would be beneficial down the road if and when they find themselves in that spot again. Who knew they'd have to tap into that memory bank four days later? You know, as worrisome as the defense has all of a sudden become, and as problematic as some of these injuries could be, the Texans have proven one thing these last three games -- they have balls. We won't know until they are in "the moment," but I don't suspect when "the moment" comes that they will shrink from it.

3. Medical supply salespeople for the Texans trainer's room The medical calling card for the Texans last season was cataclysmic season ending or, at the very least, major season curtailing injuries -- Mario Williams, done. Matt Schaub, done. Andre Johnson, half the season. Danieal Manning, broken leg. This season, the only season ender so far has been the Brian Cushing knee injury. But the minor bumps and bruises are piling up quickly, especially on defense where Shaun Cody and Johnathan Joseph missed Thursday altogether and were joined on the sidelines during the game by Bradie James and Brooks Reed. At one point, there was a shot on TV of the Texans huddling after a play and the four players in my screen were Earl Mitchell, Whitney Mercilus, Alan Ball, and Barrett Ruud. I mean, dear God.

2. Situational defense Much like last week against Jacksonville, the Texans defense spent most of the day frazzled and chasing, but when they needed it down the stretch, the defense came up huge. Consider these were the Lions' drives once they went up 31-24:

* 12:03 4th quarter at DET 46: 4 plays, 10 yards, PUNT * 9:01 4th quarter at HOU 50: 4 plays, 7 yards, PUNT * 1:55 4th quarter at DET 24: 7 plays, 31 yards, PUNT * 15:00 OVERTIME at DET 20: 2 plays, 40 yards, FUMBLE RECOVERY * 9:38 OVERTIME at DET 41: 5 plays, 14 yards, PUNT * 7:11 OVERTIME at HOU 41: 6 plays, 13 yards, MISSED FG

Worth noting, a couple things:

1. The Texans two best defensive players this season, in my opinion, have been J.J. Watt and Danieal Manning. On the drives listed above, the first two drives ended on J.J. Watt sacks, and the second two ended with Danieal Manning breaking up a deep ball to Calvin Johnson and forcing a fumble. Big time players making big time plays.

2. After catching 5 balls for 103 yards in the first half, Calvin Johnson was held to 3 catches for 37 yards in the second half and overtime. Whatever adjustments Wade Phillips made to tighten things up on Megatron seemed to work fairly well. (For what it's worth, from the halfway point of the fourth quarter on, Andre Johnson had 6 catches for 101 yards, including 4 for 64 yards on the 97 yard game tying drive and a 23 yard catch and run to set up the winning field goal.)

1. The triplets When the Cowboys were winning Super Bowls back in the early 90's, the first talking point about the foundation of those teams centered around "the triplets" -- Troy Aikman at quarterback, Emmitt Smith at running back, and Michael Irvin at wide receiver. Football is a team sport, and ultimately you need to be strong on both sides of the ball, but if the Texans are in a game like yesterday (and Sunday, for that matter) where offense is the theme of the day, I'll put Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, and Andre Johnson up against any other set of "triplets" in the league. Hands down.


4. Nuckelz This has nothing to do with the Texans, I'm just putting this in because it's Friday and it won't be topical come Monday. A big fat white Alabama fan who looks like a cross between the One Man Gang and Joe Paterno's fat son, whose name is NUCKLEZ made a rap video about his favorite team (Read that sentence again, then light yourself on fire.):

Indeed, it ain't a party till Nucklez blesses it with holy water...

And if that's not good enough...

3. This 50-something female Aggie fan ...Aggie fans just couldn't let their newfound relevance go without one of them posting something utterly cringe inducing. I'm pretty sure this video is the reason why Johnny Manziel's parents are hiring an attorney to trademark the "Johnny Football" moniker:

I'm not sure when college football fans will learn, but just because you own a video camera and some editing software doesn't mean you have to use it.

2. The zebras Ok, back to the Texans game...not a good day for the officials. Aside from the usual litany of missed calls that you see in your average NFL game and the exasperating no-calls that you see in a game involving Ndamukong Suh, this crew had an officiating error for the ages. In the third quarter, with the Texans trailing 24-14, Justin Forsett was brought to the ground following a short run. When the referees chose not to blow the play dead, Forsett did what any self-respecting veteran back would do -- he kept running into the end zone. It took the Detroit video operator all of about three seconds to show the replay on the jumbotron (Forsett was clearly down by contact.) and in retrospect, that may have been the turning point, because Lions coach Jim Schwartz promptly threw the red challenge flag. Just one problem -- on a scoring play all reviews are automatic and come from the booth. So not only did Schwarz's overzealousness result in a 15 yard penalty, but it negated the "reviewability" of the play. Poor officiating, and even worse discipline by Schwarz. (Also, a nice dose of karma for Detroit for housing a dick like Suh.)

1. Gary Kubiak's close game modus operandi When it comes to scripting plays to start the game, Gary Kubiak is among the best coaches in the league. When it comes to play calling in general and most situational play calling, Kubiak is highly trustworthy. But when it comes to clock management and some end of game situations, he can be a frustrating ol' fella. Two examples from this game:

1. Just before the Texans game tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter, the team had first and goal inside the Lions' five yard line and could have run the clock down to the two minute warning. This would have allowed the Texans to either (a) burn some clock or (b) force the Lions to use some timeouts if the Texans took more than one play to get in the end zone. Instead, the Texans ran a play just before the two minute warning, didn't get in, and then punched it in the first play after the stoppage. It didn't come back to bite the Texans, but could have.

2. The last two weeks, Kubiak's settling for 50 yard field goals with conservative play calling once the Texans reached the opponent's 30 yard line has nearly cost the team these games. On Thursday, when the Texans reached the Lions 27 yard line, the plays went like this:

1st and 10 at DET 27: False Start (K. Walter) 1st and 15 at DET 32: Foster left end for 3 yards 2nd and 12 at DET 29: Forsett right tackle for -2 yards 3rd and 14 at DET 31: Foster left end for -2 yards

How do you not throw the ball at least once in that series, especially when the Lions were completely selling out against the run? If I have a concern about Kubiak come postseason time, it's his conservativeness and his lack of awareness with the clock. I think those are legit concerns.

Now, back to my Thanksgiving leftovers....

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.

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