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Turkey Day Game for the Texans

Sneak by Jags in OT
Barrett Walton, 5:32pm, Wed. Nov. 21, 2012
This Thanksgiving, Houston Texans fans have quite a bit to be thankful for.

As the Texans sit atop the NFL at 9-1 we can look back at only two games this season where Houston struggled. They lost one of those games to the best quarterback in the NFL and won the second against a lesser opponent in the Jacksonville Jaguars. It wasn’t pretty but Houston found yet another way to win.

Last week it was a fist fight, this week it was a shootout.

The Texans played their most error-prone game of the year on Sunday committing three turnovers and giving up 37 points to the (now) 1-9 Jaguars. It was a memorable game as Matt Schaub tied Warren Moon for the second most passing yards in a single game in NFL history. Andre Johnson scored the game-winning touchdown on a career day as well but it wasn’t the offense alone that carried this team to victory on Sunday.

This game was ugly and the defense was primarily to blame as the secondary played flat and made several uncharacteristic mistakes. I came away from the game feeling like Houston had been lucky to win but after I rewatched it I had a change of heart. Despite playing a very poor game for the first three quarters giving up six big plays, the defense reset in the fourth quarter and repeatedly did what they had to do to get the ball back to Schaub to win the game.

Houston was down by 14 points late in the third quarter and they played incredible team football to claw back and win the game in overtime, but as Bum Phillips’ son tells it, the defense played great.

“In the fourth quarter, we had 14 first downs on offense and they had one. I mean, the game was on the line.” said Texans defensive coordinator in quotes release by the team. “The pressure was on us, we were behind by 14 points and those guys came through,” Phillips said. “Five minutes left in the game, seven points behind, three-and-out,” described Phillips.

That stop got Houston the ball back and allowed Schaub to drive the team down and score a game-tying touchdown. “A minute and a half left in the game, the game’s tied, three-and-out.” This stop got the Texans the ball back with enough time to drive into game-winning field goal range. Unfortunately, right guard Antoine Caldwell was called for a false start. On the next attempt Shane Graham missed the field goal sending the game into overtime.

In overtime Houston drove for a field goal to take the lead. Jacksonville broke a big run and nearly scored a touchdown to win the game if not for a last second tackle by Kareem Jackson. “I don’t know if there’s any more pressure than first down on the six-yard line and if they score a touchdown, they beat you,” said Phillips.

“Those plays there, throwing them for a loss” J.J. Watt knifed through to tackle Jalen Parmele for a four-yard loss on first down. On the next play defensive end Antonio Smith swatted down the pass from Chad Henne to bring up a third and long that went incomplete and forced Jacksonville to settle for a tying field goal.

On the subsequent drive, Schaub threw an interception that set Jacksonville up, needing only a single first down to get into field goal range. The defense prevailed yet again on a stuffed run and a big pass breakup by backup cornerback Alan Ball. “If they make a first down, they beat you. I mean, basically they’re going to kick a field goal,” said Phillips. “I couldn’t be more prouder of a group under pressure than we played.” I couldn’t be “more prouder” either coach.

With three days rest after a draining five-quarter game, the Texans will face another potential letdown game against the Detroit Lions on turkey day. Detroit lost a must-win game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday that potentially eliminated them from the playoff hunt, so they’ve got some letdown concerns as well.

The Texans play at 11:30am so no excuses for falling asleep from tryptophan overdose on this one. Even if they come out flat, I think Houston has the better team and should prevail, yet again.

Prediction:
Texans 27 - Detroit 17

Go Texans and I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving.

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