Can a single freak play be representative of a team’s season as a whole?

In the case of the underachieving Houston Texans, a game-ending stroke of bad luck proves that when it rains, it pours.  This was supposed to be the year Houston became an NFL powerhouse for the first time since Warren Moon was chunking bullets in the Astrodome, but the team’s bad defense and bad coaching have now been joined by bad luck.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, heaved a prayer to the end zone that the Texans helped answer in what will certainly be a play seen on highlight reels for years to come.  However, NFL Films immortality isn’t solace for the 4-5 Houston Texans, who, after losing their third straight game, fall to last place in the AFC South.

What Went Right

Matt Schaub has struggled through much of 2010, putting up numbers not representative of the reigning NFL passing leader.  Today, he threw for over 300 yards for the first time since week 6 and engineered multiple game-tying drives.  While this game was definitely a step in the right direction for the Pro-Bowl quarterback, he is still hesitating to pass and holding onto the ball for much longer than he should.  There could be a myriad of factors influencing his decisions, but compared to the gunslinger of last season, Schaub seems more timid in the pocket and less trusting of his receivers.

Of course, his best receiver has been hampered by an ankle injury most of the season.  But Andre Johnson had a big game, tallying 146 yards and a touchdown.  After costing the Texans a chance to win against the Chargers by booting a pass into a defender’s hands, Johnson negated a long Arian Foster breakaway run with an offensive pass interference penalty.  However, Johnson rebounded on the same possession with a 60-yard catch that set up a Foster touchdown.  Johnson made a costly error, but worked hard to redeem himself and make it up to his running back.

What Went Wrong

Glover Quinn’s batting of the game-ending Hail Mary pass will surely be debated as angry fans look for a scapegoat.  But, Quinn did exactly as he was supposed to do.  He hit the ball out of the end zone to prevent it from being miraculously caught for a touchdown.  However, Mike Thomas happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Sure, Quinn could’ve hit it with more of a downward trajectory or he could’ve caught it, but probably assumed he was in a jump ball situation.  The bottom line is it was a freak play where the Jaguars were the benefactors of good luck.

Yet, the Texans would not have been in the position to fall to a Hail Mary if backup tight end Joel Dreessen hadn’t fumbled on the Texans’ final drive.  Dreessen started for the injured Owen Daniels and probably wishes he had been injured himself.  On the final drive, Dreessen was first called for a crucial false start penalty that moved them out of field goal possibility, and then coughed up the ball to give the Jaguars one last chance.

However, the blame cannot be places solely on Dreessen.  The Texans again only scored three points in the first half.  Imagine how well their season would be going if they played four quarters in each game instead of only the final two.

Turning Point

Dreessen’s fumble proved to be the game-changing play.  This is the second consecutive week the Texans have engineered brilliant two-minute-drill drives to get into position to win or tie, only to turn the ball over when they’re close enough to smell the end zone.  This team has a knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Work on It

Until the epic final play, the Texans played a solid game.  I’ve yet to gripe about the defense, which is a record for these recaps.  The defense was average today, which is sadly a great improvement.  They didn’t make any bonehead plays that allowed Jacksonville to score due to defender incompetence.  Jacksonville pounded the ball with Maurice Jones-Drew and played an excellent overall game.  Apart from the ending, the Texans have to be happy with the improvement their defense showed, even if it was against a less-than-spectacular Jacksonville team.  But, it’s losses like these that can hurt the most and teams often never recover from them.

Remember that feeling after the week one pounding of Indianapolis?  It’s gone.  Dead.  And so are the Texans – last place with losses to two division rivals.  It’s hard to be optimistic going forward, but there are still several more in-division games remaining.  Playoff hopes are still alive, but they’re hanging by a thread.

Numerical Indications of Athletic Achievement

Schaub: 22/32, 314 yds, 2 TD

Foster: 15 rush, 56 yds, 1 TD

Johnson: 9 rec, 146 yds, 1 TD

Walter: 6 rec, 90 yds, 1 TD

Rackers: 1/1 FG, 3/3 XP

Sports Houston Texans Week 10 Recap: Texans Combine Bad Defense and Bad Coaching...