Texans vs. Broncos: Houston's Biggest Winners and Losers

Matt GoldsteinContributor IISeptember 23, 2012

Texans vs. Broncos: Houston's Biggest Winners and Losers

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    Well, that one certainly did not have me act like a nervous wreck in the final quarter of play. I think.

    The Texans improved to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history after stopping a late fourth-quarter Peyton Manning comeback that Texan fans are far too acquainted with.

    Before the heart-stopping Manning comeback was in its works, the Texans dominated nearly every facet of the game. 

    They established the run, passed the ball effectively—including two bombs to Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter—prevented Denver from getting any momentum on the ground and pressured the quarterback all game long.

    Though the final score was not an indicator of just how much the Texans controlled the game, the Texans still have lots of room for improvement. For starters, the pass coverage certainly needs some work. Johnathan Joseph and Co. benefited several times from drops by the Bronco receivers, and the secondary blew several coverages.

    All in all, the Texans believe they are one of the best teams in football, and they clearly proved that in their performance against the Broncos.

    Here are the Texans' biggest winners and losers from Week 3.

Winner: J.J. Watt

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    Is there anything else we can say about this guy?

    J.J. Watt, MegaWatt, the Milkman, J.J. Swatt or whatever else you want to call him by was simply dominant.

    Once again, he managed to single-handedly affect the game in an overwhelmingly positive manner for the Texans defense.

    Aside from his constant pass rush that generated a total of two-and-a-half sacks, Watt was also extremely influential against the run. 

    After being criticized the past two weeks for having a soft run defense, Watt and his fellow defenders stepped it up and forced a very good running team to only collect 59 rushing yards.

    The only thing that Watt did not to today was swat away a single pass. Oh well.

    The Texans' stud second-year defensive end made another convincing performance against the Broncos that should place his name in Defensive Player of the Year talks.

Loser: Kareem Jackson

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    It appears that judging the improving Kareem Jackson is going to be a week-by-week process.

    After a great performance against Jacksonville last week, Jackson looked like the Jackson of past seasons.

    Eric Decker simply dominated him all game long, garnering over 130 yards, and he appeared to get open whenever Jackson was covering him.

    Jackson neither displayed improved coverage skills nor rotated his head on deep pass plays, and his presence in the secondary was certainly a liability for the Texans.

    All this blame must not be heaped upon Jackson, though. He was playing against a very solid wide receiver in Decker, whose quarterback happens to be named Peyton Manning.

    Although Manning is definitely not his old self, he still looked elite in the short- to medium-range passing game. That is where Decker collected the majority of his eight receptions, and Jackson did nothing to prevent that from happening.

    Jackson has improved so far this season. Now it's just a matter of him being able to stay consistent and use his new-found skills on a weekly basis. 

Winner: Kevin Walter

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    Kevin Walter had a coming-out party this game.

    Aside from catching a bomb for a 52-yard-touchdown, Walter proved to be Houston's most consistent wide receiver.

    Walter hauled in two other receptions for a team-high three receptions, and his 18-yard-catch was good for a key first down that led to Matt Schaub's long touchdown pass to Andre Johnson.

    Though his performance was not extravagant, Walter proved against the Broncos that he could be a reliable contributor in the passing game behind Owen Daniels and Johnson.

    The Texans need receivers to step up behind Johnson, and Walter certainly did that today.

Loser: Brice McCain

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    Whenever a Texans' fan hears Brandon Stokely's name being called all throughout the game, then he/she must know that something is going wrong.

    Brice McCain, the Texans' slot cornerback, usually shuts down opposing teams' slot receivers. 

    This was not the case today, as Manning was able to find Stokely consistently for six receptions and 73 yards. McCain did not look like himself in coverage and was often completely beat Stokely on several occasions.

    When the Texans play teams like the Packers and Patriots, who both throw the ball much more than other teams, McCain must step up his game.

    McCain was unusually counter-productive in this game, and one would certainly hope that this is not a trend that will continue.

Winner: Matt Schaub

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    For those who are extremely critical of Matt Schaub and his play at the quarterback position, get out.

    Schaub not only played terrifically against a stout Denver defense, he was also the primary reason for the Texans' victory at Mile High Stadium.

    Schaub completed two huge passes to wide-open Kevin Walter and Andre Johnson, both of which went long touchdowns. Despite the fact that there was blown coverage on both plays, Schaub stood in the face of oncoming rushers, took two big hits and managed to complete the passes.

    Furthermore, later in the game, Schaub almost completed a gem to Johnson on a play where he was absolutely destroyed by two Bronco pass-rushers. 

    Johnson was completely covered by Champ Bailey, but Schaub was able to drop the pass into the one place where Johnson could catch the ball. Johnson almost made an electrifying one-handed grab, but Bailey was able to rip the ball out of Johnson's hands before he could completely secure it.

    Schaub was very consistent this game, passing for four touchdowns and almost 300 yards, and he clearly led the Texans to victory.

Loser: Derek Newton

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    Despite an overall productive day from the Texans' offensive line, Derek Newton was the line's long eyesore.

    He was flagged for three false start penalties, and he was also responsible for Elvis Dumervil's sack in the end zone that resulted in a safety. 

    That safety could caused the game to head in a much different direction, and the Texans are fortunate that the defense played like its usual elite self.

    Newton had some bright spots this game, like he has in all the Texans' victories, but he has also still playing very inconsistently.

    This is to be expected from the second-year-pro and first-year starter, but he needs to find a way to play more consistently in the upcoming weeks.

    The Texans will be heading into the beef of their schedule, and they need their line to play well.

    Newton needs to continue to display the stronger aspects of his game and find a way to abandon his inconsistencies. 

Winner: Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin

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    For the past two weeks, it has been pondered whether Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin, who both had excellent preseasons, would be able to transfer their offseason success to the regular season.

    For the first two weeks, that answer was a clear and resounding "no." Now, however, Jean and Martin are looking like they can both very impactful players for the Texans offense.

    Jean made a spectacular grab that resulted in a 46-yard-reception. He ran a long comeback route, used his big body to block out the cornerback and jumpto grab the ball.

    He initially tipped the ball in midair, but he managed to come down with it and sprint deep into Denver territory.This play eventually resulted in an Owen Daniels touchdown.

    Keshawn Martin also made his presence felt. He made two receptions for over 20 yards, and he also had a 21-yard rush on an explosive play.

    If both young receivers continue to play like this on a weekly basis, then the Texans offense could very well be unstoppable with their bevy of talented playmakers.