The good, bad and ugly from the Texans' season-ending loss in Indianapolis

Jadeveon Clowney and Bernardrick McKinney were impact players on Sunday. Houstontexans.com

This was the final game of the season for the 2017 Houston Texans. The 22-13 loss to rival Indianapolis Colts mercifully ended what has been a dumpster fire of a season. The 4-12 record makes them  the third worst team in the league in terms of record and tied for second worst record in the team’s history.

The Good

- Zach Cunningham had 12 tackles, four of which were solo. The rookie linebacker has been rounding into form as of late and was all over the field against the Colts. His sideline to sideline speed is undeniable. However, it’s his understanding of his assignments that I’ve noticed the most improvement in his game. He still has moments of looking out of place, but I look forward to what he can provide this team in the future.

- Jadeveon Clowney has proved he’s more valuable to this team than J.J. Watt. He chased Jacoby Brissett out of the pocket several times recording a half a sack, held up well against the run (sans that stiff arm from Marlon Mack), and dropped into coverage (where he laid Mack out to get revenge). Do not argue with me on this one. He’s proven himself worthy of perhaps the richest non-quarterback contract in the league.

-Benardrick McKinney has showed continued improvement. While his coverage skills still need work, he appears to have a much better understanding of the game. I particularly like the way he calls out adjustments to the defense. His passion for the game was on display when I noticed him trying to pump up his teammates after the safety punt.  

The Bad

- Jonathan Joseph may have played not only his last game as a Texan, but his last game period. He no longer possesses the athletic ability that was his calling card early on in his career. He was badly beaten by T.Y. Hilton on the Colts first possession and fell down. Luckily, the pass was overthrown, or else it could have resulted in a touchdown.

-Another loss, another game in which this team averaged less than four yards per carry, 3.1 to be specific. What really puzzled me was that Lamar Miller averaged 4.6 yards per carry on eight carries, but Alfred Blue got 18 carries averaging a miniscule 2.2 yards per carry. The offensive line is partially to blame here, but at what point does this team need better talent in the backfield?

-Speaking of Blue, the mere fact that he led the team in receptions with four says all you need to know about how this game went and the depth this team doesn’t have. Second leading receiver was Chris Thompson, an undrafted rookie free agent.

The Ugly

- Will Fuller left the game with a knee injury in the first half. It didn’t seem too serious because he was standing on the sideline and appeared fine, but it’s a mere drop in the bucket to what they’ve experienced this year. The Texans have used 77 players this year and have 19 players on injured reserve.

-Chris Slade and Breno Giacomini had a terrible miscommunication that led to Yates getting sacked for a safety. Giacomini (playing right tackle) went wide as Slade (playing right guard) went towards the inside leaving a hole you could’ve driven a bus through. Thank God Yates didn’t take a huge hit and was able to get up. Offensive line play like this has hurt the run game as well as caused Tom Savage to get concussed. Deshaun Watson was running for his life before his unfortunate injury.

-Braxton Miller had an opportunity to step up to the plate to prove himself worthy of his status as a third round pick and help begin to dispel the bust talk that follows him. He had two catches for nine yards and one punt return for -3 yards. Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, must be a duck? Right? I don’t know how he comes back to this team next year.

One thing I noticed about this game is that players didn’t give up and played hard. I didn’t see many “business decisions” being made by players who may have had their vacation bags packed already. There were even some chippy extracurricular activities following some plays.  Sure, there were a few guys that didn’t run out plays, or attempt to chase a play down, but no full-on mailing it in. Bill O’Brien didn’t call plays as if he had punted on the season. Biggest evidence to this thought was the fact that he used all three timeouts with about 3-4 minutes left in an attempt to get the ball back while down 19-13. Games like these between two teams with nothing to play for can often be a snooze fest. While it wasn’t exciting, it was good to see it be competitive.

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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