Matt Schaub: Was Tommy Kelly Right About Houston QB Choking?

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2011

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 09: Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans stands dejected after he threw a game ending interception to safety Michael Huff #24 of the Oakland Raiders on October 9, 2011 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Raiders won 25 to 20. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

The Houston Texans are statistically one of the best teams in the league. They throw the football well, run the football well and are much improved defensively.

They are, however, 3-2 on the year in large part to letting games slip away.

This has been a problem for a few years now, and one of things that has plagued quarterback Matt Schaub and this team's chances for postseason play.

Yesterday was another prime example of how they couldn't close a game they should have won.

The Raiders, playing only one day after the passing of long time owner and NFL legend Al Davis, were an emotionally charged group that brought another intensity to the field.

The Texans matched it for the most part and had a chance to win the game with under 10 seconds on the clock.

A 2nd-and-goal snap after a wild 3rd-and-23 conversion resulted in a game-ending interception that many have chosen as a microcosm of Schaub's play:

The quarterback threw for 416 yards on the day, but completed less than 50 percent of his passes and also threw two interceptions.

Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly went as far as to say that the Texans' quarterback choked on the play. Kelly was quoted in the Houston Chronicle saying, "Old boy choked. All he had to do was run it in. He choked, simple as that."

What Tommy Kelly was looking at, and the play we just saw, must be something entirely different.

The veteran defensive tackle, who had a sack in the game, must be overestimating the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Schaub's speed.

Raiders safety Tyvon Branch had a clear bead as a free man in coverage approximately three yards deep in the end-zone.

He started upfield at Schaub when the quarterback was still at the 7-yard line and Richard Seymour was trailing from the backside had Schaub even considered cutting back.

Scoring on the ground was not an option.

Schaub may have been able to make a better throw, but Branch closed on him in a hurry and the off-balance throw across his body didn't have nearly enough on it to get past Michael Huff in coverage.

This isn't new for Schaub either. The Texans, according to Pro Football Talk, have scored only five touchdowns on 18 red-zone possessions this season.

Defining this as a choke job is extreme though. It wasn't like Schaub missed a wide open receiver, bobbled a "gimme kick" snap or landed on the 1-yard line trying to score with his feet (or any other ways Tony Romo blows games you can think of); he put the ball up in the only way he could.

This wasn't a choke job by Schaub on the final play, it was just a better job by the Oakland Raiders defense.

If Tommy Kelly wants to say anything it should be that his teammates made a pair of great plays to seal the win.


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