The Texans took on the Raiders at NRG Stadium on Sunday and managed to escape with a 27-24 victory. A look at how it all played out.
The positives: Deshaun Watson had another big game, going 27 of 39 for 279 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. He also ran effectively with 46 yards on 10 carries (including three kneel downs at the end of the game). He gave them a lead in the fourth quarter with a miraculous escape in the pocket and throwing a touchdown pass after getting kicked in the eye. Bill O'Brien made some good offensive halftime adjustments. He also continues to go for it on fourth downs, and he did it again to start the third quarter from his own 35. The Texans converted, and it led to a field goal. The tight ends were a big part of the offense with eight catches including two touchdowns by Darren Fells. They managed to stay afloat despite losing Laremy Tunsil late in the game. DeAndre Hopkins had one clutch catch after another, with 11 for 109 yards.
The negatives: Once again, they started slowly. They have not scored on their opening drive this season. Untimely, drive-killing penalties continue to be a problem. The Texans converted a third down midway through the second quarter, but a holding penalty negated it. Watson nearly threw a pick six on a bad throw early in the game but the Raiders could not hold the ball. Jordan Akins had a rough day with a couple drops, the holding penalty mentioned above, and killed a drive on first down by running into his own running back, causing a huge loss. The Texans were forced to settle for a field goal on that drive. As a team they allowed three sacks.
The positives: They did a decent job against the run, which is the strength of the Raiders. But Oakland was also throwing the ball a lot more than normal. They did a better job with penalties - most were on the Texans offense. They came up with a huge fourth quarter stop up 27-24 to get the ball back to the offense with just under four minutes to play. The Raiders would not get the ball again.
The negatives: They blew a coverage then missed a tackle on Hunter Renfrow's 68-yard catch and run for a score. Tyrell Williams also caught a 46-yard touchdown pass. Both came on third downs, where the Texans continue to struggle. Injuries became the biggest issue as both J.J. Watt and Lonnie Johnson were knocked out late in the first half. Watt is reportedly lost for the season. Johnson's injury was particularly concerning since the secondary has been so beat up. They did not get much pressure on Derek Carr, even with Watt in the game. Dylan Cole dropped what could have been a pick six in the fourth quarter.
The bottom line
This was a solid win, considering the injuries. They were overmatched in the secondary but managed to play just well enough. Watson and the offense took over in the second half, scoring on every possession but the last one, where they were able to take a knee. They now head to London to take on the Jags with a chance to be 6-3 going to the break, but the injury concerns are very real. Watt is gone for the year and can't be replaced. Tunsil is also irreplaceable. Johnson is a key member of a secondary that is already depleted. They are 5-3 at the halfway point, and it was a much-needed win as the entire AFC South won on Sunday. The Raiders are a decent team, and getting a win was big considering the injuries. Now we just have to sit back and find out how bad the Tunsil and Johnson injuries are.
I can’t win.
For the past two years, I was an Optimum cable TV subscriber. The service was pretty decent, unless it rained somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. But I had a bigger gripe. Despite living only a short, 25-minute drive from Minute Maid Park, I couldn’t watch Houston Astros and Houston Rockets games. Optimum cable does not carry Space City Home Network (formerly AT&T SportsNet SW). How annoying and exceedingly dumb is that?
They say that people can get 150 stations on their cable lineup, but they really watch only five stations. Mine are Tennis Channel, ESPN, QVC, CNN and Space City Home Network. If you added up my total hours of TV watching, Space City Home Network would be No. 1. That’s the best part of Astros and Rockets – they’re almost always on.
Because I was an Optimum subscriber, I had to follow Astros games on radio while watching pitch-by-pitch stats flash on my phone. I believe this is how fans followed baseball games during the Dark Ages.
Two weeks ago, I was fed up to here. I called Optimum, said I’m quitting, come get your stupid cable boxes.
And I switched to DirecTV. I got my Astros and Rockets back. Wednesday night, I watched the resurgent Rockets defeat the OKC Thunder. After three years of torment, the Rockets are playing aggressive, entertaining and winning basketball (at home, anyway).
Except now I can’t get Houston Texans games. I can’t win.
That’s because TEGNA, the mega-powerful broadcast company that owns KHOU (Channel 11, Houston’s CBS affiliate), is in a pee’ing match with AT&T, the owner of DirecTV and U-verse cable companies that service thousands of Houston subscribers.
Here’s a shocker, the dispute is over money. TEGNA, based in Tysons, Virginia, wants to hit DirecTV and U-verse with a big rate bump. DirecTV and U-verse say they don’t want to have to pass along the rate increase to their customers.
Yadda, yadda, on Nov. 30 DirecTV and U-verse pulled the plug on Channel 11 and began running a message blaming greedy TEGNA for the whole mess. TEGNA, in turn, blames skinflint DirecTV for not paying a fair price for its stations’ programming. So far, DirecTV and U-verse customers have been deprived of watching the Houston Texans’ thrilling victory over the Denver Broncos, the SEC championship game between Alabama and Georgia, and all other CBS programming.
Like most disputes between heartless billion-dollar companies, it’s the little guy who gets kicked in the keister. The Texans have five games remaining on their 2023 schedule – all of them are scheduled to air on CBS. And get this, if the TEGNA vs. DirecTV and U-verse drags on, guess which network has the 2024 Super Bowl?
How long will the TEGNA vs. DirecTV and U-verse squabble last? Who knows? It’s not like either side has rent coming up in a few weeks and needs the money. The sides reportedly are far apart.
Fans have every right to fire their displeasure. But make sure your aim is true. I keep reading bitter complaints against KHOU on social media. KHOU is not the villain. KHOU is a victim.
KHOU would love to air Houston Texans games. KHOU posts some of its highest-ratings for Texans games. Affiliates get several minutes during NFL games, plus pre-game and post-game shows, to sell local advertising spots at a premium price. KHOU salespeople are missing out on tasty commissions because two of Houston’s most popular cable carriers aren’t airing CBS programming.
If you stare at the Channel 11 screen while Mr. Announcer describes DirecTV’s side of the conflict, one solution is for subscribers to hook up an old-fashioned antenna to bring in KHOU programming. And you thought the days of dangling aluminum foil from rabbit ears were gone? Or putting Junior on the roof and telling him, “Move five feet to your left and point the antenna east, let’s see if that works.”
A similar TEGNA-DirecTV disruption occurred in 2020. That one lasted two weeks. The clock is ticking on the Texans-Jets game this Sunday. The Texans are favored by 3.5 points. It’s a gift – take the Texans.