Texans vs. Broncos: Takeaway's from Houston's 37-13 Loss Against Denver
It doesn't mean much anymore to say that the Texans lost.
Everything sucked again on Sunday, and against the AFC's elite Denver Broncos, who really expected much more?
Matt Schaub was given the start this week, and he gave even more reason to draft a quarterback. Peyton Manning set some new records by breaking Tom Brady's single-season touchdown record, and by the time the game finished, the Texans were the victim of another blowout and a laughable scoreline.
Same ol' same ol', really. Here are the takeaways:
Finally, a Team with More Penalties Than the Texans
The Texans have been ridiculed for their lack of discipline and high penalty counts all year long.
On Sunday, for as great as the Broncos looked, they gave away a cheap 67 yards on the back of eight penalties and struggled to fix the problem.
The Texans, on the other hand, looked a little bit more composed, committing only four fouls.
Houston was tied with Denver coming into Sunday with 103 total penalties on the year. Now, the Broncos can claim themselves as the fourth-highest penalized team in the league.
Nothing Is Going to Change with Matt Schaub
The Texans don't have any options, what with T.J. Yates injured and Case Keenum playing just as poorly. But the Matt Schaub ship has truly sailed, and it showed on Sunday.
To start the game, Schaub looked steady. He was finding Andre Johnson when he could and sharing the ball around—particularly on third down, where the Texans converted six of their 16 chances.
When the game got ugly though, so did Schaub. Trying to find DeAndre Hopkins in coverage down the sidelines resulted in nothing but an easy pick for Mike Adams, and for most of the second half, Schaub struggled with his reads.
With only one week left, it's likely Schaub gets the nod again next week on the road in Tennessee. He still doesn't have any footwork or scrambling ability though, so it's hard to see him ever starting next year.
Not Forcing Turnovers
It was another game of zero turnovers for the Texans and not much pressure at all on Peyton Manning or Knowshon Moreno.
Moreno finished with 76 rushing yards on Sunday and was hardly touched on several runs up the middle. It looks like it could be a quiet end to the year for J.J. Watt, who had another game without a sack, even though he kept the pass rush physical.
So far, the Texans have forced only six interceptions this season, a pretty fair number for a secondary that has been burnt all year long.
It was another week of guys like Brandon Harris turning in poor performances, and when Manning throws for 400 yards and four touchdowns, it's hard to win.
Secondary Stepping Up
As much as Brandon Harris struggled, the secondary played a pretty good game up until the fourth quarter when Peyton Manning let loose with his best stuff.
Johnathan Joseph was absent, but guys like Shiloh Keo made some big tackles, and Kareem Jackson turned in a big performance with six tackles of his own. Of course, the Broncos were without Wes Welker, but for at least half of the game, the Texans kept Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in check.
It's just a shame that the stat sheet reads differently.
Randy Bullock Might Not Be so Bad After All
Again, the majority of the Texans' early scoring came from field goals, and they were pretty good ones too.
Randy Bullock hit from 45 and 35 yards on Sunday to keep the game somewhat close in the first half, and after so much has been said about him, Bullock hasn't missed a field-goal attempt since that dreaded three-point loss against Arizona.
It's tough that the biggest takeaway late in the season is how good the special teams has been. But at least it's something.
Next Week Does Hold Some Meaning
Heading into Tennessee next week, the game against the Titans may seem pretty meaningless—except, it's not.
Take a look at the standings, and you'll see that if the Texans do beat the Titans, and the Washington Redskins lose against the New York Giants, both teams will be tied for the worst record in the NFL at 3-13.
With the draft still an eternity away, it may not mean much to some, but the first overall pick could be on the line next week. Even if the Texans still miss out, they'd still be in prime position to select someone decent with the second overall pick.
But after such a season of failure, why not aim the bar just that little bit lower?
Matt Schaub felt the heat all game long, and it's a miracle he didn't finish with more than three sacks against him.
The offensive line is now a beaten drum, and with two young running backs like Dennis Johnson and Deji Karim trying their best to find holes, the blocking wasn't up to par.
Keeping Schaub off the turf wasn't easy either, as the Texans more often than not failed to pick up the blitz and instead let Schaub do all the work. Unfortunately, Schaub doesn't have a good set of wheels, so it's no wonder he threw two interceptions with guys like Robert Ayers coming straight for him.
Another Big Year for Andre Johnson
Ending on a positive note for once, Andre Johnson finally gave Texans fans something to applaud this week for all the right reasons.
With Manning breaking Brady's touchdown record, Johnson also achieved a milestone of his own, moving past Torry Holt on the all-time catches list thanks to a short pass from Schaub on 3rd-and-2.
Johnson dropped an easy touchdown catch in the third quarter but still finished with 63 yards, taking his total to 1,358 and five touchdowns on the season.
There aren't many players likely to represent the Texans in the Pro Bowl, but Johnson is at least the one definite.