Inside View

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans 23-16 loss to the Ravens

The Texans defense deserved a better fate.

The Houston Texans came into Monday Night Football still in the AFC playoff hunt after beating the Arizona Cardinals last week. However, they came up short losing 23-16 in a game that was devoid of stellar quarterback play.

The Good

-Brennan Scarlett had himself a solid game with 4 solo tackles and 2 tackles for loss. One thing I observed was how he uses proper leverage to set the edge. He squats low and keeps his hands inside the offensive lineman’s pads. One of his tackles for loss came in the flat on a swing pass to the running back. He dropped in coverage, read the play, and made the tackle before Alex Collins could get upfield.

-DeAndre Hopkins had 7 catches on 10 targets for 125 yards. He continues to dominate opposing defenses. Perhaps most impressive, is the fact that Hopkins isn’t blessed with the height or blazing speed or quickness. He does it by running good routes and out-fighting defensive backs.

-Jadeveon Clowney is going to cost the team a ton of money to resign. Defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel lines him up all over the place and Clowney continues to produce with 2 solo tackles, a sack, 2 tackles for loss while lining up at middle linebacker, both defensive end/outside linebacker spots, as well as defensive tackle. He’s proving himself to be the second most important player on the roster.

The Bad

-Early in the 2nd quarter, Ravens punter Sam Koch threw one of the best passes of the game on a fake punt. A few plays later, they tied the game at 7.

-Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will never be mistaken for Steve Young, Randall Cunningham or Mike Vick. But he sealed the game after catching the Texans napping by faking a handoff that appeared to be going off tackle to the right side, while keeping it and rushing for 25 yards. Getting that first down after the two minute warning with the Texans fresh out of timeouts allowed them to run the clock out and seal the deal.

-Texans rookie returner Chris Thompson muffed a punt that was recovered by fellow rookie Treston Decoud. This was another special teams brain fart that could’ve been disastrous. Last week, Bruce Ellington almost had field position flipped. Special teams need to be evaluated more closely this offseason. It’s a phase of the game most coaches don’t pay enough attention to, but is constantly a deciding factor.

The Ugly

-Tom Savage turned the ball over three times. Two interceptions and a fumble lost cost the team a chance to win. Specifically his last interception. Anthony Levine Sr. dropped back in coverage on C.J. Fiedorowicz and was underneath Fiedorowicz. Savage threw the pass straight to him and Levine Sr. got an easy game-clinching pick.

-The run game was atrocious. Sure the Ravens have a good run defense. But averaging 2.6 yards per carry on 25 carries between Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue isn’t going to get you very far. Miller got one third of his 51 yards on a single play. D’Onta Foreman may not have been a starter or huge contributor, but on days like this one can’t help but wonder what he would’ve done.

The Texans took what was a winnable game on the road to help keep them in playoff contention, and turned it into a loss that will serve to boost the Cleveland Browns’ chances of not sucking as much. The sweet scent of last week’s win over the Cardinals was quickly replaced by the dumpster juice stench of yet another loss. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not “the media has a job to do” guy when I complain about Savage not staying and answering questions at the post game presser. It’s all about facing the music and being man enough to own your screw ups. Too many people nowadays skirt responsibility and/or point fingers when things don’t go their way. Last week, after a great performance during a win, he gladly stepped up to the podium. Win or lose, you should honor that commitment. This team has managed to have a roller coaster of a season on and off the field. The fact that they haven’t completely collapsed is a testament to head coach Bill O’Brien’s ability to keep them somewhat focused. For that alone, I feel like he deserves to come back next year and get an extension.

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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