BARRY WARNER'S VIEW

Off the top of my bald head: Texans get a much-needed win over Cardinals

Andre Johnson honored by the Texans Bob Levey/Getty Images

When I checked out the flip card before the game and saw the name of the marquee referee Ed Hochuli one thing came to mind. Who in the hell did he piss off at the league office to get a crapola game between two injury depleted teams?

The Texans ended their three-game losing streak with a 31-21 win in front of a lackluster crowd and about 15,000 empty seats.

Imagine what attendance would have been if it was not Andre Johnson’s induction as the first member of the Ring of Honor.

For the first time in a month, we did not hear the usual Bill O’Brien “It’s on me or I have to do a better job of coaching” after a game.

Tom Savage turnovers gave Arizona two touchdowns, threw for a pair of scores and finished the day 22-of-32 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and a 97.1 passer rating. For the first time the tough, honest kid from Pitt showed leadership. In spite of poor field position there was a different air about No. 3.  Savage channeled his inner Deshaun Watson, buying time, extending the pocket with his feet

The touchdown pass to DAndre Hopkins over Patrick Peterson belongs in the Museum of Fine Throws, a perfect strike.

It’s always a treat to watch the best against the best. Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson in man coverage against D-Hop.  The Texans acrobatic receiver caught four passes for 76 yards and one score. D-Hop also made a pair of spectacular grabs, but did not have not feet inbounds.

Texans PR staff opened windows in press box for final two minutes of first half to hear the halftime tribute to the classy, non-diva Johnson. For a moment time stood still, like the days at the Astrodome before the sterile atmosphere on Sundays.

With a classy tribute, Dre came out of the tunnel, surrounded by former teammates on either side to the podium. Cheers continued when the McNair family was introduced.  But with the windows opened, we heard the fans booing of Rick Smith McNair. That is a first in my years covering sports in Houston, a city that had its share of incompetent decision makers.

Must be nice to have a gig with that type of job security.

Video tributes from Charley Casserly, original Texans GM, Gary Kubiak, Michael Irvin, followed by huge ovation from Arian Foster.

Bad Blaine Gabbert threw three touchdowns, including a pair to former Sealy All Stater and Aggie Ricky Seals-Jones. For the third consecutive game Jonathan Joseph got beat in man coverage

The punching bag of jokes, the offensive line had a solid day.  The Human Turnstile, left tackle Chris Clark, dominated Chandler Jones, and Xavier Su’a Filo opened holes on the left as the ground game picked up 130 yards.

Jadeveon Clowney continues to smear egg all over the idiots who called him a bust. The first pick in the draft four years ago as an outside backer, but he spends the majority of his time with his hand in the dirt as a pass rusher. Two sacks and three tackles for loss in yet another All Pro day at the office. Benardrick McKinney led the team with nine tackles, including two for loss.

The Texans regained the lead in the second half, winning the game with help from the Cardinals head coach.

Bruce Arians proved that Bill O’Brien is not the only NFL genius capable of having brain farts.  For some strange reason, he went for a first down on fourth-and-one at his own 34 while trailing by a mere three points with 6:36 remaining "It's very simple: I cost our team the game," Arians said. "Trust is a funny thing sometimes when you can't get it to it. You deserve to lose, especially when you make the decision I made and the play I called. So, there's your headline. You can write it. It comes down to that call. At that point in the game, in retrospect, we should have punted."

The Texans stopped Adrian Peterson for a one-yard loss, then went up by 10 when D'Onta Foreman scored on the next play. But the cursed Texans lost the rookie from Texas with a season ending Achilles injury.

Is NRG an Indian burial ground?  

Chirp!

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The Texans are moving in the wrong direction. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

1. This team started incredibly slow and outside of a couple of drives in the second half disappointed. The defense got worked by the Chargers' star players, and the offense sputtered too often. It was really a summary of the season up to this point which is to say inconsistency.

2. Davis Mills was shaky early. The first drive interception was tough to stomach. The pocket got messy as he tried to drive the ball and he floated one up there. It gave the Chargers an easy drive for seven points.

3. One of the early offensive mistakes erased a scoring opportunity. Kenyon Green got nailed for a holding call that erased one of the best passes and catches between Brandin Cooks and Davis Mills all season. The rookie’s mistake was compounded the very next play when the offense allowed Mills to be sacked. It was a 40-yard swing that led to a punt.

4. Another third down penalty led to a mishap for the Texans. Laremy Tunsil gets a false start on third down to make it third and 10. The shovel pass to Rex Burkhead goes for six yards and then the Texans botch the field goal. Back-to-back drives and third-down penalties affected the offense and ended with no points. That was all just in the first quarter!

5. The Texans were abysmal with short yardage in key spots yet again. In the second quarter, Pep Hamilton opted for a pass on fourth and one. Davis Mills never got the play off and was sacked. After the game, Mills said the team wanted to catch the Chargers off guard running when most expected a pass, but Rex Burkhead was the running back. It was again a situation, a key and critical moment, that the team trusted Burkhead over the more dynamic Dameon Pierce.

6. The Chargers were very chunky on offense against the Texans. There were 16 plays that went for at least ten yards for the Chargers of their 67 plays. Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler were fantastic for Los Angeles.

7. The pass rush was non-existent for the Texans. This was one of the more disappointing aspects of the day to consider the Chargers were playing a rookie right guard, their center is injured but playing, and the left tackle was a backup left tackle. Nothing seemed to get home on an injured Justin Herbert. The Texans recorded just two quarterback hits in the game.

8. The linebackers got worked again. This is the absolute weakest unit on the team right now. They look like they’re easily exploited by most opposing offenses.

9. It was a rough day for the rookie class of the Texans. Derek Stingley was handled by Mike Williams on multiple occasions in key spots. Kenyon Green allowed a big sack and had a holding penalty erase a huge play. Jalen Pitre was the target of some offensive success in the Chargers' passing game.

10. Not all the rookies had a bad day. Dameon Pierce is so much fun to watch. He has the chance to be a truly impactful player for this team. His 75-yard touchdown scamper gave the team some juice, and he constantly fights and gets extra yards when the ball is headed his way. He finished with 14 carries and six catches for 20 total touches.

11. The Texans need teams to help them stay in games, and even then, it is a challenge. The tough part about where the Texans are through four games is there are some positives to look at and point to, but not enough to say the team is surely headed in the right direction. There surely has to be some adjustment by the team when the season is where it is after nearly a quarter of the year. The current direction isn’t going to lead anywhere positive soon.

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