The Houston Texans picked up their fourth win and remain unbeaten after a 38-14 defeat of the Tennessee Titans in week 4 of the 2012-13 NFL season.
J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans salutes the crowd after sacking Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Tennessee Titans at Reliant Arena at Reliant Park on Sunday. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston once again followed the blueprint that has appeared in three of their four wins this year.
That blueprint looks something like this:
- Get to the opposing quarterback early and often.
- Spread the ball around on offense.
- Score at least 27 points by the end of the third quarter.
- Hold the opposing team to one touchdown through three quarters.
- Nullify the opposing teams’ best player (see Reggie Bush/MIA, Maurice Jones-Drew/JAX, and Chris Johnson/TEN against Houston).
- Force at least two momentum-swinging turnovers.
- Rely on Arian Foster and Ben Tate to close out the game.
The Texans did all of this and more against the Titans, and it looked strangely similar to their wins against the Dolphins and Jaguars. Granted, these opponents are not the cream of the NFL’s figurative crop. But the fact that the Texans have been able to execute their game plan in much the same way against each of these three professional football teams is undeniably impressive.
While the game wasn’t won in dramatic fashion, it was full of excitement nonetheless.
The two biggest plays of the game were a sack and pick-six.
Houston Texans strong safety Glover Quin (29) sacks Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker in the first quarter of Sunday’s game in Houston. Locker left the game after the play. (AP Photo/Dave Einsel)
The sack came early on in the contest. With Tennessee deep in their own territory, Texans safety Glover Quin lined up at the line of scrimmage and came into the backfield untouched on a blitz. Jake Locker never saw Quin coming and took a hard hit that climaxed with the addition of Watt coming into the play. Locker, who had strung together a handful of solid games coming into this one, left the game with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. He did not return.
Obviously, we never want to see someone get injured, but it was a beautifully executed play by the Texans’ defense. Even if Locker wouldn’t have left the game, this play would have proved to be detrimental.
Later in the game, Matt Hasselback, who entered the game in relief of Locker, was attempting to mount a comeback in the third quarter. Down 14-7, Hasselback dropped back and passed to tight end Taylor Thompson. But Thompson couldn’t get a handle on the ball and it tipped off of his hand and into the arms of Texans’ safety Danieal Manning who promptly returned it 55 yards for the touchdown. Houston went up 21-7 and kept the Titans at bay for the remainder of the game.
Houston’s defense, and specifically the front seven, continues to dominate opposing offensive lines and backfields. J.J. Watt recorded two sacks of the Texans’ total of four. They also got to the quarterback an additional five times.
Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans is tackled by J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans and Johnathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Arena at Reliant Park on Sunday. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Chris Johnson piled up nearly 150 yards on the ground, but a good chunk of those were in garbage time, and he never sniffed the endzone. Hasselback threw for 193 yards with two touchdowns, but also threw two picks that were both returned for touchdowns.
On offense, the Texans put up another solid performance. Matt Schaub played another error-free game and completed 20 of 28 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. His ability to avoid mistakes and manage games has been key so far to the Texans success. If he can continue to have games like this one, Houston will see a lot more success before this year is over.
Running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate had a relatively subdued game, combining for 97 yards on 29 carries and one touchdown.
But it was, and has been, the balance of the Texans offense that creates so many problems for the opposition. Schaub spread the ball around to seven different receivers throughout the day, and both touchdown passes were thrown to tight ends – one to Owen Daniels, the other to James Casey.
Houston travels to New York to face the banged-up, yet unpredictable, Jets on Monday night next week, before two games against Super Bowl contenders: Green Bay and Baltimore. Both games are at home, and could be two hugely impactful games on the Texans season. It will be the biggest challenge for this team to date.
Fortunately, the Texans get their bye week after what is shaping up to be a bruising three-week stretch of football.