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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The Houston Astros managed to win the AL West once again, and while things got a little nerve wracking toward the end of the season, when it mattered most, the 'Stros took care of business.

It certainly didn't hurt to get a little help from the Mariners, beating the Rangers 1-0 on Sunday, paving the way for the Astros to secure the division. Rangers fans and members of their broadcast team were none too pleased with the Diamondbacks resting some of their starters on Sunday.

But let's be real, with the division on the line, the Rangers couldn't even manage to score a single run on Sunday against Seattle. That's why they're playing in the Wild Card series, not because of how Arizona approached Sunday's game.

So what did we learn during these must-win games over the last week? A lot was made of GM Dana Brown's comments on the team's flagship station. Brown was hoping manager Dusty Baker would put the best offensive lineup on the field. Yainer Diaz did not start a single game of the Diamondbacks series. But Chas McCormick played every game of the Mariners and Diamondbacks series, except for the finale against Seattle, after being hit in the back with a fastball the night before.

Michael Brantley played in two of three against Arizona, so he appears to be an option Dusty will turn to moving forward. And with the Astros only scoring 1 and 2 runs in two of the three wins against the D-Backs, the Astros need every bit of offense they can get.

Plus, we discuss how getting extra rest for Michael Brantley, Jose Abreu, and the bullpen could pay huge dividends for the club. And don't look now, but Jose Abreu is getting hot at just the right time!

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion.

And be sure to watch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportMapHouston's YouTube channel.

Listen to ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM for Houston's best sports talk.

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