AFC South All-22 Review: Big Plays in Bunches for Matt Schaub and the Texans

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistSeptember 26, 2012

Walter and Johnson soared against Denver.
Walter and Johnson soared against Denver.Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

By far the biggest game of the week in the AFC South was the Houston Texans' blowout-turned nail-biter against the Denver Broncos.

The outstanding play of Matt Schaub in the face of a heavy rush by the Broncos led to some long passes that set the Texans up for 31-25 win.

There were four big passes by Schaub that led to touchdowns for Houston. Here's what the All-22 film has to show about each.


1st-and-19 from the Houston 40, Schaub hits Andre Johnson for 60 yards and a touchdown

Schaub boots to the right, and the line pulls with him. Pre-snap, the linebacker drops down to blitz, but the Broncos end stays put to pick up anyone leaking out of the backfield.

The giant question is what is the near-side safety doing?

I honestly can't tell you. After the snap, he jumps down, leaving Johnson in one-on-one coverage. He runs a simple slant and go, and the Texans lead 7-5.

It's a great route by Johnson, and an on-the-numbers throw by Schaub who gets hit on the play, but this is one is just as much on the Denver defense. Whether by design or by mistake, they left Johnson in single coverage, and you can't do that.


1st-and-10 from the Denver 31, Schaub hits Garrett Graham for 27 yards

Once again, the Denver defense absolutely falls asleep.

They line up to blitz Schaub, and Graham releases straight up the middle of the field.

For reasons unknown to anyone, Keith Brooking simply decides not run with Graham.

This is as easy a pickup as it gets for Schaub. He simply tosses to a wide open Graham, and it's 1st-and-goal for the Texans.

Of course, if you call getting smacked in the chest as you throw easy, then you try it some time.

Denver had the right defense on, but Brooking's brain-lock turned a sack into a big gain.


2nd-and-5 from the Houston 48, Schaub hits Kevin Walter for 52 yards and a touchdown

The Texans run a play-action fake to the left, slightly slowing up a Denver blitz.

Denver chooses to double Owen Daniels, leaving Walter in single coverage against Tracy Porter. He fakes an out-route and weaves back up the seam, giving him the step he needs.

Schaub delivers an absolute seed to Walter right on time despite getting blasted just after release.

Note how Schaub has already thrown the ball before Walter has even made his break. There's contact with Porter, and Walter absorbs it perfectly, allowing him sling-shot past the corner.

It's a brilliant route design, because if it's incomplete, there's likely going to be a pass-interference flag on Porter. Instead, Walter holds his own, wins the spot and puts the third Texans' score on the board.


2nd-and-10 from the Houston 40, Schaub hits Lestar Jean for 46 yards

This is a classic mistake by Broncos corner Chris Harris.

The Broncos line up to blitz with a single high safety. Harris has Jean in single coverage.

The blitz doesn't land, and Jean beats Harris on the route.

Instead of accepting the completion and making the tackle, Harris tries to break up the pass and fails. He actually interferes with Jean, grabbing his shoulder pad before the ball arrives.

Jean is so big and strong that he leaps to make the catch anyway, shaking off the contact. With the defender falling helplessly out of bounds, there's no one to stop Jean from streaking down the sidelines for a big gain.

While it's obviously a great physical play by Jean, it's an unforgivable mistake by Harris. He has to know he doesn't have help and can't let the receiver get behind him.



The film shows a variety of huge defensive gaffes by the Broncos. The Texans' receivers made some nice plays (especially Walter's route), but on the whole the big plays came down to Schaub standing tall and making spot-perfect throws while getting hit.

Blitzing a good quarterback requires excellent secondary play, but the Broncos had too many mental mistakes to make the strategy work.

Denver came after Schaub, and he made them pay. He paid a price, but the result was four touchdowns for Houston and a win.