FRED FAOUR

Texans use familiar formula to knock off Redskins 23-21

J.J. Watt had a big sack late. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It was grimy. It was ugly. It was also lucky.

As in Lucky No. 7.

The Texans won another close, hard-fought game, beating Washington 23-21 for a seventh consecutive victory after an 0-3 start.

It was the latest in a tough stretch of physical games. The Texans lost both starting guards early in the game and were down to only five offensive linemen. Redskins quarterback Alex Smith appeared to suffer a serious injury in the third quarter, and was replaced by veteran Colt McCoy, who led the Redskins to 14 points and a fourth-quarter lead.

For the second week in a row, an opponent missed a potential game winning field goal at the end of the fourth quarter. But this was a 63-yarder that fell well short.

On the surface, there were five reasons why the Texans could have lost the game:

  1. The Texans once again struggled in the red zone, with one touchdown in three trips.

  2. New acquisition Demaryius Thomas did not have a catch.

  3. Deshaun Watson struggled throughout, throwing two interceptions and nearly throwing several others. Thanks to that, The Texans were minus-1 in the turnover battle. He constantly put his defense in bad situations.

  4. The offensive line could not keep the Redskins off Watson, who was sacked three times and took several vicious hits.

  5. As has been the case forever, they could not guard a tight end, as Jordan Reed had 7 catches for 71 yards and it could have been worse, as Vernon Davis dropped a pass on what would have been a huge gain.

But the good news is despite all that, they escaped with a road win against a team that is leading its division.

They did it because they got a red zone interception by Justin Reid that turned into a 101-yard touchdown return. It was a 14-point swing that made all the difference.

They did it thanks to fourth quarter sacks by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

They did it thanks to two key third-down conversions on their final  drive, one on a holding call on Josh Norman. It left the Redskins with too much to do and not enough time.

They did it because they were able to rush for 139 yards and average 4.5 per carry.

They won because they fought through their shaky play and did just enough, much as they did in Denver.

The end result is a 7-3 record and two-game lead in the AFC South heading into next Monday Night’s showdown with the Titans, who sit at 5-5 in a second place tie with the Colts, who continue to impress after their slow start.

Like a lot of their wins, no matter how it looked, the Texans took care of business. Good? At times. Lucky? Certainly. Ugly?

Yes, but it doesn’t matter. The Texans have won seven in a row, and are sitting pretty in the AFC South.






 

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The new-look Texans won't get started until September, but the Roughnecks' season is about to begin. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Without much fanfare, or seemingly any, the Houston Roughnecks are preparing for opening night of the XFL 3.0 season just a couple of weeks away.

The Roughnecks will host the Orlando Guardians, 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 at TDECU Stadium on the UH campus. That’s less than a week after the NFL’s Super Bowl.

Before one pass is thrown, one run rushed, or one groin pulled, Las Vegas has set odds for the 2023 XFL season. Our Roughnecks and the Orlandos are tied for the longest odds on the board, +750. The early betting favorite is the St. Louis Battlehawks at +400.

Just a note: if you’re like Cosmo Kramer and think wagering on early-season XFL games is “some sweet action” – well, “you really need help, you need a team of psychiatrists working around the clock, thinking about you” and George Costanza.

Not surprisingly, good seats remain for opening night. Lousy seats, too. And seats in the middle.

If the Houston Texans and the all-mighty NFL couldn’t fill half of NRG Stadium, do the Roughnecks stand a prayer of drawing big crowds to TDECU Stadium?

One thing in the Roughnecks favor: affordable seats for their five home games on the XFL’s 10-game schedule. Season tickets for Roughnecks games start at $110 and go up to $480 at xfl.com. Individual game tickets, available on Ticketmaster, are $24 and higher. Reasonably priced food and drink (I kid because I love), plus an array of team merch will be available, including T-shirts ($25), baseball caps ($28-$34), sweatshirts and sweatpants ($45-$60), and bucket hats ($45).

Of course, nothing sells seats like winning. The Roughnecks were 5-0 and dominating the league last time the XFL played. That was 2020 when Covid-19 cut the season short. That was then …

This is now. Much like the Texans (as of this week), the most recognizable and popular figure on the field will be the head coach. The 2023 Roughnecks will be led by NFL veteran Wade Phillips, who has a lot of history and DNA in Houston. Quarterbacks currently on the roster are Cole McDonald from Hawaii, Kaleb Eleby from Western Michigan and Brandon Silvers from Troy State.

Most of the roster will be new names for Houston fans, although the league is bragging that 255 XFL’ers have been on NFL rosters at some point.

The Roughnecks will compete in the XFL South division along with the Arlington Renegades, Orlando Guardians and San Antonio Brahmas. That’s three out of four teams from Texas. The XFL North is comprised of the D.C. Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis Battlehawks and Vegas Vipers.

Every XFL game (40 regular season, two playoffs, one championship) will air somewhere across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and FX, plus streaming on ESPN+. As they say, check your local listing to find the Roughnecks.

If you think that the XFL is just “too soon,” hold on until April when the Houston Gamblers take the field for the 2023 USFL season. Although don’t get too excited about attending home games. Houston’s “home” is in Birmingham, Ala. I know, silly.

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