Fred Faour

Texans defense finally shows up, roughs up Cowboys in 19-16 win

Tyrann Mathieu and the defense came up big. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, the Texans had a 2.8 percent chance of making the playoffs after starting 0-3.

Today, they wake up with a 2-3 record, only one game out of the AFC South lead. 

In a tough, bruising, hard-fought game, the Texans outlasted the Dallas Cowboys, winning 19-16 in overtime.

Last week, the offense we had been waiting on all year finally showed up. And this week, Deshaun Watson put up some sexy numbers - 33 of 44 for 375 yards and a touchdown and one interception. Watson also rushed 10 times for 40 yards, but was pounded by the Dallas defense and was visibly shaken several times.

DeAndre Hopkins made the play of the game, with a tremendous individual effort on a 49-yard catch in overtime that led to the game-winning field goal. The Texans offense was really good, other than in the red zone. 

But the stars of this game were on the defensive side of the ball. And this week, the defense we had been waiting to see all season showed up. 

The Texans defense had been terrible through four games. But Sunday night, they put together their best effort in months. They held Zeke Elliot to just 54 yards on 27 carries for an average of 2.7. He added seven catches for 30 yards, but the Texans limited one of the best offensive weapons in football.

They were also physical throughout. They only sacked Dak Prescott twice, but that was a credit to the quarterback's elusiveness. They constantly got pressure and forced contested throws. He managed just 208 yards passing and one TD.

The most impressive part of the performance was the much maligned secondary. They attacked routes. They covered well. Most importantly, they did something they had not done since Week 1 - pick off a pass. In fact, they got two. 

The stars were plenty on this night. J.J. Watt had another sack, his sixth of the season. Jadeveon Clowney split one with Bernardrick McKinney. Zach Cunningham played his best game, including a huge stop in overtime. Kareem Jackson had an interception and was terrific in run support. So, too, was Tyrann Matthieu. Even Jonathan Joseph had three passes defensed. Rookie safety Justin Reid made several plays, including an interception. 

As a team, they held Dallas to 4 of 14 on third down, an achilles heel all year for the Texans. 

To put it simply, a group that had been a joke for four games finally won a game for the Texans. They were tough, physical and made plays. And they had to, because Dallas' defense matched their effort, and almost their performance. 

The end result? That 2.8 percent is looking a lot more possible. And if this defense can show up the rest of the season, the Texans might still make some noise. 

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Jeremy Pena could have some big shoes to fill. Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images.

MLB and the MLBPA are embroiled in yet another labor dispute. The owners and players have both dug in their heels and refuse to budge. No end is in site for the lockout as Spring Training is drawing more and more near each passing day. So what does that mean for our 2022 Astros' season?

One sigh of relief came when Justin Verlander signed his new deal. Two years for $50 million dollars isn't bad at all. Factor in he's closer to my age than my son (coming off Tommy John surgery), and some may worry. Not me. He's the closest thing to Tom Brady MLB has seen since Nolan Ryan. Jim Crane and James Click did a great job bringing him back. His spot as the ace with the rest of the staff they have should help shore up the bullpen if one or two starters can make that transition. I know I said I didn't want him back a few months ago, but time has passed, and wounds have been healed.

When it comes to Carlos Correa, I'm growing more and more comfortable with the thought that he may not be back. I talked about his potential replacement months ago. Maybe the reason being is that the club loves Jeremy Peña at that same position, and Pedro Leon could also factor in. Plus, Peña is tearing the cover off the ball in the winter leagues.

At 24 years old, turning 25 in September, he'll be under team control for the foreseeable future. That truly depends on the new labor agreement. So does Correa's new contract. His contract will be largely based on the parameters set in the new labor agreement, since he didn't sign before the lockout took place. And now we know that contact will be negotiated by Correa's new agent, Scott Boras.

I'm all for the doom and gloom when it comes to an MLB labor issue because they've historically screwed over fans. The most notable and egregious was the '94 World Series being canceled. However, there's way too much money at stake right now. More money than ever to be exact. That said, it's precisely why there's a dispute. That, and the fact that the owners have always gotten over on fans and players, and the players are poised to get their just due.

When the season starts, the Astros should be contenders yet again. Don't look for them to come out the gate firing on all cylinders as this team may look a bit different. Guys may not be fully ready after a lockout and there will be some roster turnover. The bulk of the core will be here, ready, and healthy. Whether Correa is a part of that group remains to be seen. Am I concerned? Hell no! This team has enough to fill that void at least partially and will have either guy under team control for a while. Think about this upcoming season as the time you fixed up your older car. New tires, headlights restored, rims polished, inside made over, and a fresh coat of paint after the transmission rebuild. It still has over 150,000 miles on it, but you wouldn't trade it in for anything because it still runs well and has sentimental value. You know one day it'll give out and need to be put out to pasture, but you're holding on and riding until the wheels fall off. Enjoy Astro fans, because the ride will be over one day. Hopefully much later than sooner.

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