Houston Texans Week 11 Recap: Texans Defense Spoils Late Rally, but Boosts Mark Sanchez’s Career, So That Was Nice of Them

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The Houston Texans, knowing their season is all but over, decided to be unselfish and boosted the career of young Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez by letting him lead a miraculous last minute march to spoil what would’ve been a momentum-changing come-from-behind victory.  The Texans offense scratched and fought to gain the lead with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter, but the self-aware defense, knowing Houston fans don’t deserve false hope, decided that something positive must come from this game – so they bent over and made Mark Sanchez a superstar.  ‘Tis the season for giving, and the Texans gave Sanchez and the Jets all the confidence they’ll need.

It really was nice of them.  Sanchez seems like such a nice guy, and since many of his career firsts were against the Texans last season, it’s only fitting that they let him emerge as an elite passer against them this season.  It’s a beautiful circle.  Would the Colts be kind enough to help a young star like this?  I think not.

After last week’s Hail Mary debacle, the Texans defense is well aware that fate, luck, karma – or whatever you choose to call it – is simply not on their side.  Neither is preparation, skill or pride, but still, if you’re snake-bitten from the start, you might as well help put over someone who actually has a chance to succeed.

Maybe they’ll even be kind enough to help Gary Kubiak and Frank Bush update their resumes after the season.

What Went Right

It had the makings of a momentum-changing come-from-behind victory.  The Texans actually scored a touchdown in the first half (a huge deal given their lack of early offense in recent games) and the defense was playing well until they showed their true colors.  Mario Williams had two sacks and kept pressure on Sanchez for much of the game.  The defense even had a fumble recovery and an interception – both average, every-game plays for most teams, but reasons to celebrate for the feeble Texans.  I was ready to give the Texans defense credit for sparking the late rally because they really did play much better than usual for 59 minutes.

Arian Foster crossed 1000 rushing yards for the season and is poised to easily capture the team’s single-season rushing record.  Foster will not win NFL MVP because of the atrocious team he’s on, but with Schaub’s disappointing season and Johnson slowed due to injury, Foster has carried the Texans offense and deserves some recognition as recompense for putting a team on his back.

What Went Wrong

In the middle of the third quarter, Texans linebacker Kevin Bentley tipped a Mark Sanchez pass, leading to an incompletion.  Bentley then pumped his fists and celebrated his accomplishment.  This is how bad this defense is.  Mundane plays that they get paid millions to make elicit child-like excitement because they have been so terribly inefficient.

Last week, I thought that the Jacksonville Hail Mary was the essential illustrative play of the season for the Texans defense.  However, Mark Sanchez’s 3rd quarter touchdown to Santonio Holmes may be the best example of how one play can sum up a season.  On the short pass, cornerback Brice McCain covered Holmes for a few steps, but then slipped and tried bracing himself before completely eating it, allowing Holmes to stroll to the end zone.  In basketball, when a player makes a move that causes a defender to fall over, it’s called “breaking their ankles.”  However, I’ve never seen a NFL receiver break an NFL cornerback’s ankles like that.  The play perfectly illustrates how the Texans defense will eventually capture the “Worst NFL Defense of All-Time” crown (if they continue on their current pace of yards allowed, they’ll earn it by season’s end).

Also, the Jets proved the old adage that defense wins championships.  Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, arguably the best in the game, shut down Texans receiver Andre Johnson, arguably the best in the game; again proving that the best defensive player is more valuable than the best offensive player.

Turning Point

For the Texans offense, Shonn Greene’s fumble was the catalyst that led to their rally.  Seeing the defense actually make an effort to help inspired them to march up the field and take the lead with under a minute to go.  I feel bad for Schaub and Foster for having all of their accomplishments negated by the children on the other side of the ball.

But seriously, who didn’t foresee the Jets marching the ball up the field to win the game?  The Texans can’t stop the pass in the first quarter, so expecting them to step up with the game on the line is foolish.

Work On It

All of the Texans’ problems can be summed up under the umbrella of stubbornness.  From week to week and embarrassment to embarrassment, the Texans are not learning from their mistakes and changing their approach.  They are suffering from the same shortcomings – offensively and defensively – every game.  The coaching staff hasn’t adjusted and has made the Texans the most disappointing team of 2010.

It’s still theoretically possible for the Texans to make the playoffs, but only the most naïve super fan still believes they have a chance.  Even if the Texans win out the remainder of the season and somehow make the playoffs, how far would they be expected to go against elite playoff teams?  Right now, the Texans need to concentrate on not finishing dead last in their division (a statement I never thought possible a few weeks into the season).

Numerical Indications of Athletic Achievement

Schaub: 19/33, 254 yds, 1 TD

Foster: 22 rush, 84 yds, 2 TD, 6 rec, 59 yds

Dreessen: 4 rec, 106 yds, 1 TD

Johnson: 4 rec, 32 yds

Rackers: 2/2 FG, 3/3 XP

M. Williams: 4 tkl, 2 sack

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