HOUSTON -- They talk about stepping up, these athletes. It is a theme in sports, especially in violent football. It's a next-man-up kind of league. The NFL, they say, stands for Not For Long. There are a lot of cute little expressions for it.
Such was the Houston Texans' plight Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Their best offensive player, Andre Johnson, was out with a hamstring injury and their best defensive player, Mario Williams, left in the first quarter with a pectoral injury. The next men up were wide receiver Jacoby Jones and outside linebacker Brooks Reed.
Oakland 25, Houston 20.
"They're a good football team, we're a better football team," Texans receiver Kevin Walter said. "We just didn't get it done today."
Those are the words of a player who was (a) frustrated and (b) correct.
It would be fallacious -- and even a little cruel -- to blame that result on Jones and Reed, though it is impossible to ignore that Jones was targeted 11 times and caught one pass for ni...