After their slobberknocker of a win in Chicago last week, all of the talk around the league was finally about how dominant the Texans defense was. Also brought up a lot was how Houston was able to change their style of play to meet the situation. With the poor weather conditions and playing against a stout defense, Houston was able to make the plays on offense they needed, run the football and lean on their defense to bring them home.
That’s what makes today’s game against Jacksonville so special. After getting a different kind of challenge against their division rival than was expected, they were able to transition to a style of play that some, even the analysts during pregame brought up, thought they weren’t capable of anymore.
In 2010, the Texans had one of the most elite offenses imaginable, but their defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed. With said historically bad defense, this was the biggest focal point for the team going forward, as evidenced by the hire of Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator at season’s end.
After ranking third in the NFL last season in total team defense, combined with their start in 2012, it appeared that the Texans identity going forward was to be a defensive team. But after today, it’s hard to pigeonhole them as any one kind of team, as they proved they are diverse enough to lean on one another if the other side is struggling.
When the defense knocked out the Jaguars starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert, they got more than they bargained for in a back up quarterback that is actually an NFL player. Chad Henne, who can actually hit the open receiver, helped top draft pick Justin Blackmon finally have his breakout NFL game with 236 yards receiving and a touchdown. In my opinion, the timing of this wasn’t a coincidence and Gabbert should be planning for a career in the CFL within the next year or two.
But with the Texans defense struggling in ways it has only once all season (against the Packers), they were actually able to pivot and go into shootout mode with the young and frisky Jaguars. 640 yards of offense later, as well as becoming the first team in NFL history to score twice in overtime, the Texans find themselves still at the front of the NFL with a 9-1 record.
The fact that they gave up 37 points to the worst offense in the league should be alarming, but sometimes good teams have bad days and it’s tough to nitpick a 9-1 record. Thankfully for Houston, they’re fortunate enough to have a solid nucleus on offense of running back Arian Foster, wide receiver Andre Johnson and quarterback Matt Schaub; all of whom earned their paychecks on this day.
Matt Schaub tied for the second most yards passing in a single game in all of the history of the NFL with 527 yards and five touchdown passes. By the last play that ended the game, Schaub appeared ready to collapse from exhaustion, and rightly so. 55 passing attempts en route to coming back from a 14 point deficit with less than ten minutes to play will do that to a guy, both physically and emotionally.
As far as Andre Johnson goes, there sure were a lot of people who said he was on the decline of his career. But after a day that saw the future hall of famer post a career high 273 yards receiving, that kind of talk might have been premature. He looked just as dominant as he ever did in his younger years and scored the game winning touchdown on a simple short screen pass. He also moved ahead of Jerry Rice for the most 10 reception, 100 yard days in NFL history. If you still argue that the guy isn’t a hall of fame candidate, you’re lying to yourself.
In the end, this further proves that Houston can win a game any way they need to. When their offense isn’t clicking, the defense picks them up. On the rare occasion that the defense is struggling, the offense can light it up. And with guys like Schaub and Andre leading the way, Houston can score on anyone. No matter how big of a deficit or how little time is left on the clock.
Filed under: Houston Texans