Texans rally comes up short in 20-14 loss to Colts

Tom Savage managed to generate just seven points of offense against the Colts on Sunday. Tim Warren/Getty Images

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At the end of an up and down sports week in Houston I think we all knew the Texans offense would struggle without Deshaun Watson. The No. 1 scoring offense going into week 9 was held in check for most of the game by the No. 32 scoring defense. Tom Savage just does not look like an NFL quarterback. The opposite of Watson, he was uninspiring to the players around him. The Texans were bailed out by their defense but the little mistakes they made allowed the Colts to put up more points that they should have and at the end of the day walk out with a 20-14 win over the Texans.

I think the wind was taken out of the room when Watson was lost for the season and there was little expectation for Savage, who started the game proving everyone right. The Texans' first three drives went for a total of 27 yards, all ending in punts. The eye test was easy; the Texans were not running the ball well, and doing so in predictable fashion. Tom Savage was making wild passes that couldn't be caught. It just looked awful.

On the other side, the defense started off on the wrong foot, allowing the Colts first drive to end with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Jacoby Brissett to T.Y. Hilton. The defense was playing soft on that drive and the success of some underneath passes set up the big play deep. Fortunately that wasn't a precursor to their effort the rest of the afternoon. But with a struggling offense, 7-0 after one drive looked like it could be the final score.

It wasn't all bad for the Texans offense in the first half. They did have one long drive into the red zone at the end of the first quarter and into the second. A 19-yard catch and run and a pass interference penalty by the Colts put the Texans at the Indianapolis 16-yard line. Sadly, a penalty and poor play forced the Texans to attempt a 39-yard field goal that was the first miss by Ka'imi Fairbairn on the season and the score still 7-0.

The Colts got another good drive during the second quarter, getting the ball down to the 4-yard line in seven plays. Most of their 51 yards were gained with one pass from Brissett to Hilton for 30 yards. The defense held their ground near the goal line and Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal to out the Colts ahead 10-0.

After that it was back and forth with punts until just under two minutes remained before halftime. Texans Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel had been keeping his team in the game with aggressive play calling and a defense holding the Colts in check. It was that aggression that finally put points on the board for Houston. It happened on a 3rd and 5 with 0:56 left on the clock. Safety Eddie Pleasant got to Brissett for a sack and forced a fumble that was taken by Lamarr Houston 34 yards for the score. Now it was 10-7 and not an insurmountable lead.

Each team traded punts twice after the half and neither team held any promise for adding points. But one big play involving a mental lapse changed that. The Colts had the ball at the their own 20-yard line and faced a 3rd down and 9. T.Y. Hilton caught the ball on a crossing route and finished in the end zone after two players failed to put a hand on him while he went to the ground. The play was upheld on review and the Colts had regained their 10-point lead in the third quarter.

The Texans would get 30 yards on eight plays but no points and out came the defense again, trying to limit any further damage. It didn't work out that way. The next Colts drive finished with a field goal after eating up 60 yards in seven plays. Now the lead was 13 points and for all intents and purposes, the game might have been over.

But wait! The Texans' offense finally did something. After starting the next drive the same way they had the others, Savage was able to get consecutive short passes for 12 and 15 yards before a third pass went for a 34-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins to put the Texans right back in the game, 20-14. That pass was Savage's first career touchdown pass and it cut it to a one-score game.

The defense held again and suddenly momentum was with the home team. Savage in the fourth quarter looked legit, at one point completing six consecutive passes. With under two minutes left in the game  Savage used his arm to drive the ball to the seven yard line but it was there he turned right back into what he is, not a legitimate starting quarterback. After three consecutive incompletions, a fourth down game on the line play ended with the Colts stripping him of the ball and recovering to seal their victory.

It can't be underestimated how import the defensive effort was to the Texans in this game. They finished the game with three sacks for negative 29 yards and a fumble returned for a touchdown while being on the field for over half the game, and more than 60 plays. Eddie Pleasant had two of those sacks and became the first defensive back with multiple sacks in a game since 2004. They gave up a lot of yards and held their own but it was almost too much too overcome.

The Colts were a very beatable team and the Texans just made too many mistakes. The long plays on defense were the big difference in the score. It could have been a lot closer. There's no help coming and it will be up to the coaching staff to get this offense back to a decent level, they will have one week to do it before they head to Los Angeles to play Jared Goff and a dynamic Rams offense. 

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Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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