ANOTHER ROUGH DAY

Texans fail to show up, provide Christmas stinker in 34-6 loss to Steelers

Alfred Blue was a rare bright spot. Houstontexans.com

Merry Christmas from the Texans! Their present to the fans in Houston: a 34-6 loss that they were never a real threat to compete in. Really, they didn't even look like they wanted to play in this game and fell to 4-11 for the season.

Other than Jadeveon Clowney flying all over the field on defense and an amazing catch by DeAndre Hopkins, everyone else on the Texans looked lethargic. Maybe they ate too much Christmas dinner before kickoff. 

Meanwhile, the injuries continue to pile up at the quarterback position for Houston. Their fourth of the season, Taylor Heinicke, made his professional debut when T.J. Yates went to the sideline for a concussion evaluation in the second quarter. He looked like any other quarterback not named Watson and finished the day being evaluated for his own concussion. Yates was cleared to return right before Heinicke went down and came back in to finish what he stared

DeAndre Hopkins had another decent day at the office, adding four receptions, 65-yards and a touchdown to the 92/1,313/12 that he came in with. His touchdown in the fourth quarter quickly went on the short list for one of the best catches in the NFL this season. He tipped it to himself with one hand then caught it with one hand while falling out of bounds. It was a beautiful site to behold, his own Christmas miracle.

The rest of the game wasn't so amazing. T.J. Yates had two turnovers in the first half and threw for only eight yards on seven attempts. He improved in the second half getting 59 yards and a touchdown on 9 attempts. The best thing they had going for them was the running game. Alfred Blue led the team with sixteen carries for 108 yards, including a 48-yard burst at the start of the second quarter.

That big run by Blue set them up in the red zone with a chance to cut into the ten-point deficit. But when your season doesn't matter, the coach can make bold choices. At the one yard line, Bill O'Brien called passes on 3rd and 4th down. The second of those passes by Yates found itself in the arms of Artie Burns for an interception. That would be the closest Houston came to putting points on the board until it didn't matter anymore.

Pittsburgh controlled this game from start to finish and the Texans couldn't stop Le'Veon Bell from averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 5.6 yards per reception. He finished the game with 96 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.

The Steelers scored ten points on their first two drives while the Texans could only muster twenty-four total yards in theirs. From then on it was all about ball control for the Steelers while their defense shut down almost every possession Houston had.

Defensively, the Texans were allowing 27 points and 355 yards per game before facing the Steelers. They kept it up by allowing 34 points and 324 yards of offense to their opponent. 

This game should have been flexed out of this spot, but I guess the league just wanted to see Pittsburgh. It was never competitive and the only big highlights were a long run by Alfred Blue and the touchdown by Hopkins. Everything else I saw was not worth the time I spent watching it. 

Next week the Texans travel to Indianapolis to finish this season. The Colts only have 3 wins on the year and the Texans will be playing a team they can beat to end the year on a high note. All they really need is for more than a couple of players to show up and give a better effort.

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Correa knows it's time for his payday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Rangers made a big splash over the weekend when they agreed to terms on a 7-year $175 million contract with infielder Marcus Semien. Apparently, that was just the tip of the iceberg. According to multiple reports, the Rangers have also added arguably the most coveted player in free agency, Corey Seager. Seager and the Rangers have agreed to a massive 10-year $325 million contract.

Before the Seager news broke, many were starting to wonder if teams would be willing to hand out 10-year deals for over 300 million dollars with the lockout just around the corner. Now we have our answer, and Carlos Correa has to be a very happy man to see how the market is shifting. The Rangers not only added two incredible players, but they also made it pretty much a certainty that Correa will either leave Houston, or the Astros will have to sign him to a long-term $300 million deal, which is not likely based on their stance on multi-year big money contracts.

The Rangers aren't the only team in the AL West making blockbuster moves. The Mariners agreed to terms with 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray on Monday. Ray and Seattle agreed to a 5-year, $115 million contract.

The Angels joined in on the action a couple of weeks ago when they signed Noah Syndergard to a 1-year 21 million dollar deal.

Clearly, the AL West is on notice that they're going to have to make big changes if they want to compete with the Houston Astros who have dominated the AL recently with 5 straight ALCS appearances and 3 trips to the World Series. With Correa likely out the door in Houston, these teams might believe this is a perfect time to make a run at the division and finally knock off the Astros. Only time will tell if these deals will work, and the Astros look to have a terrific team this season whether Correa returns or not.

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