Texans 53, Falcons 32

Texans vs Falcons: Good, bad & ugly

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The Texans served a 50-burger to the Falcons as they improved to 3-2 in a 53-32 romp. They took care of business against a team they should have. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller both had career games. Watson threw for 426 yards (career high), five touchdowns (tied career high) while completing 84.8% of his passes(career High). Fuller pulled in 14 of his 17 targets (career high when targeted over 10 times) for 217 yards and three touchdowns (both are career highs).

-Keeping with the offensive explosion theme, they scored on eight of their 10 possessions. Make it nine of 11 if you include the pick six. That kind of output is beyond impressive. It's a conversion of playing a bad team, and...

-...Bill O'Brien calling a great game. He finally put together a gameplan inwhich he took full advantage of the team they were up against while playing into the stregnths of his own team. I know I've crushed him in the past, but I also give credit when it's due. These are the kinds of games I wish O'Brien could have more of.

The Bad

-Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed 69% of his passes. Against better teams, this would've been a sure sign of a loss. 60% is a low end benchmark. Anything above that is considered pretty good. When you approach 70%, it's rare air. A quarterback in that range usually wins. This can't keep happening if they expect to build upon this win.

-Giving up 9/16 3rd down conversions is pretty damn bad. 56.3% is enough to by far lead the league in this category. A team with around 50% could lead the league, anything above that...well, you got the drift from the previous entry.

-Carlos Hyde averaged only 2.9 yards per carry. The team ran for 166 yards on 34 carries. Take out Hyde's 21 carries, and they ran for 106 yards on 13 carries for a 8.2 yards per carry average. Not saying they would've kept up that production, but Hyde gas to get it into gear if he expects to take advantage of playing time and touches.

The Ugly

-The Texans committed nine penalties accepted for 89 yards. Penalties are one of the poor themes this team has had going all year so far. If they don't find a cure for this ailment, it'll take them apart eventually.

-DeAndre Carter muffed a punt on the first play of the fouth quarter when the Texans were up 33-17. It led to a Falcons touchdown and two-point conversion that drew them within one score, 33-25. This could've been much worse had the offensive explosion not continued into the 4th quarter.

-Speaking of fumbles, the Texans coughed it up a total of five times, but managed to recover four of them. Had they not recovered four of the five fumbles, this score could've easily been reversed. Better teams tend to convert turnovers into points and don't pass on an opportunity to get them.

The Texans have the sniffles early on this season. As in what can best be described as the early signs of a full-blown cold, they have issues, but not bad enough to call it the flu. This was a chicken noodle soup game for them. The Falcons came into this game with a wealth of talent, and an underwhelming 1-3 record. While chicken noodle soup soothes the throat and can also warm you up, it only masks the symptoms. If the symptoms worsen or progress, they'll need some over the counter or prescription meds depending on the severity. So far, so good. They've been able to stave off the hard core cough, congestion, and stuffy breathing. They showed they can put up video game numbers if given the chance. Next week, they're rewarded with the Chiefs in Kansas City. That will be the thermometer game to see if the fever has broken, or if it has gotten worse.

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After splitting the first two games of the series, including the extra-inning affair on Saturday, the Astros looked to defeat the Angels on Saturday to secure the series win and leave Los Angeles with a winning record. On the mound were two pitchers looking to shrug off bad debuts to the season. Here is how the game went on Sunday afternoon:

Final Score (11 innings): Astros 6, Angels 5.

Record: 5-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Blake Taylor (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jacob Barnes (0-2, 3.86 ERA).

James walks his way into trouble

After a disastrous start to his pitching season where he was unable to record an out, Shohei Ohtani was able to sit down the Astros 1-2-3 on just eight pitches in the top of the first. However, Houston would take advantage of his struggling command in the top of the second, working three straight walks to load the bases with no outs. They then would get two more walks with two outs to grab an early 2-0 lead and end Ohtani's day early yet again.

Meanwhile, on the mound for Houston was Josh James. He, too, allowed some walks but was able to work around them in the first two innings, erasing two in the bottom of the first and one in the second for two scoreless innings.

That changed in the third when he would walk the bases loaded with two outs before Albert Pujols continued his nearly twenty-year reign of being a thorn in Houston's side, hitting a grand slam, Los Angeles' first hit of the day, to put the Angels up 4-2. James would get the final out of the third, but that would conclude his day, making it two straight starts he would be unable to reach the fourth inning. His final line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4K, 1 HR.

Valdez impresses as Bregman makes it a one-run game in the seventh

Framber Valdez was first out of Houston' bullpen, likely to try and eat up several innings. He would accomplish that mission, getting through the next three innings scoreless, holding the 4-2 score. It remained locked on that score despite Houston getting runners on base in each of those innings, as they would struggle to turn players on base into runs yet again in this series.

Alex Bregman gave the Astros a spark in the top of the seventh, leading off the inning with a solo home run to straightaway center to make it a one-run game. Valdez returned for yet another inning, another scoreless frame to keep it 4-3 going to the eighth.

Reddick ties it in the ninth, Astros win in extras

Houston would threaten to tie in the top of the eighth, getting a pinch-hitting Carlos Correa to third base after a single to leadoff the inning, but would be unable to score him, leaving it at 4-3. Valdez would record another scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Astros one more chance to tie or go ahead in the top of the ninth.

Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double and was pinch-run by Myles Straw, who would score the tying run on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick, but the Angels would hold the Astros there. Valdez remained in the game trying to push extra innings and would do so, erasing a leadoff walk.

Kyle Tucker started the top of the tenth on second base and moved to third on a sac fly by Carlos Correa to start the inning before scoring on another sac fly, this time from pinch-hitting Garrett Stubbs to give Houston a 5-4 lead. Valdez, well above his comfortable pitch count, was still on the mound in the bottom of the tenth, and allowed his first run, though unearned, on a leadoff RBI-single to tie the game again at 5-5. He would get one more out before Houston moved to another reliever, bringing in Andre Scrubb.

After an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Scrubb would walk the bases loaded before getting a popout, then Houston would turn to Blake Taylor. Taylor would come through, getting a big strikeout to send the game to the eleventh. Springer started on second in the top of the inning and would score and put the Astros back in front on a one-out RBI-single by Alex Bregman. In the bottom half, Taylor would get through the inning, giving Houston the win and series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow before picking up a three-game set with the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Tuesday. The opening game of that series will be at 8:10 PM Central. While Arizona is expected to start Madison Bumgarner, the Astros will have to pivot as they had Framber Valdez slated for that start, who made a lengthy appearance out of the bullpen on Sunday.

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