Kaz: Texas’ two NFL teams headed in opposite directions
If you look at the National Football League teams that are undefeated after two games, you would discover that nearly all of them have a strong ground game.
Both of the Lone Star state’s franchises have great running backs, but only the Houston Texans (2-0) boast a solid running attack. The Dallas Cowboys (0-2) have three great running backs, but prefer to move the football up and down the field on the strength of quarterback Tony Romo’s right arm.
Every team needs a solid passing attack in case they fall behind early or have the football in the final couple of minutes of the half. The unwritten credo of the NFL is that the running game sets up the play-action passes.
These two Texas teams that appear to be heading in different directions after two games will meet Sunday at noon in Reliant Stadium in Houston.
The Houston Texans needed a few breaks to win Sunday’s game 30-27 over the Washington Redskins in overtime after finding themselves behind 27-10 with 5:31 left in the third period.
Quarterback Matt Schaub drove his team quickly downfield, connecting on a 50-yard pass to running back sensation Arian Foster on a third-and 15 and capped the drive with a six-yard scoring pass to Kevin Walter less than two minutes later, reducing the deficit to 27-17.
Schaub moved the team 40 yards early in the fourth period and settled for a 43-yard field goal from new kicker Neil Rackers, putting the Texans within a touchdown, 27-20.
Washington had a nice drive that the Texans’ defense halted, forcing a 29-yard field goal try by Graham Gano that was blocked by Bernard Pollard and proved to be big at the time, with only 6:36 left in regulation.
Schaub had been finding his favorite target Andre Johnson with regularity throughout the game. But Johnson left the game in the third quarter with a badly sprained ankle and wasn’t supposed to return. But he took a shot to numb the pain and came back for the crucial fourth period.
And Johnson made perhaps the greatest catch of his pro career on a fourth-and-10 with 2:03 remaining when he out-jumped Washington safety Reed Doughty in the end zone and snagged Schaub’s desperation throw for the touchdown. Rackers’ PAT tied the score at 27-all.
That was Johnson’s 12th grab of the game for 158 yards, putting him on course to become the first player in NFL history to lead the league in receiving for three straight years.
Houston won the coin flip and elected to receive in the overtime. The drive stalled, but instead of having Rackers try a 52-yard field goal, Head Coach Gary Kubiak made the first of two gutsy decisions in the overtime by electing to punt, hoping to pin Washington deep on their end of the field.
The kick went into the end zone and Redskins’ quarterback Donovan McNabb once again moved his team into field goal range. Gano had the exact same 52-yard try to win the game and he booted it through the uprights. But just prior to the snap, Kubiak called for a timeout to freeze Gano. On his next try, the ball sailed wide to the right, giving the Texans a new lease on life.
This time Schaub moved the team downfield, connecting on a key 28-yard pass to Joel Dreessen and setting up Rackers’ game-winning 35-yard field goal with 3:48 left in the overtime period.
The Texans overcame the 17-point deficit for their second-biggest comeback victory in team history and took sole possession of first place in the AFC South for the first time in franchise history.
The punchless Dallas Cowboys, who entered the home game as a nine-point favorite over the Chicago Bears, came up with another unbalanced offensive performance by passing the ball 51 times and running only on 19 occasions.
This resulted in only one offensive touchdown, the other points coming on a 62-yard punt return by rookie first-round pick Dez Bryant and two second-half David Buehler field goals as the Cowboys lost 27-20.
The Cowboys, picked by many—including idiot owner Jerry Jones– to play in this year’s Super Bowl, dropped to 0-2 and last place in the NFC East. The last time Dallas started a season 0-2 was in 2001. Only 13 per cent of the NFL teams that started 0-2 reached the playoffs.
And if the Cowboys think an easy win looms in Houston Sunday, they had better get their heads shrunk. In the first two games Romo has thrown 98 passes and has a four-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin against the Redskins and a one-yard scoring toss to rookie fullback Chris Gronkowski in Sunday’s game to show for his effort.
Romo completed 31 passes for 282 yards against Washington and 34 for 374 and two interceptions Sunday against Chicago. The running game produced 103 yards against the Redskins and a meager 38 against the Bears. That certainly doesn’t look like any balanced attack to this Korner.
Neither the Cowboys nor the Texans are defending the pass very well so there could be a shootout in Reliant Stadium Sunday. But before there can be a high-scoring game, Romo and Company will have to learn how to score touchdowns in the red zone. If not, Dallas is a sure bet to be 0-3 at this time next week.
KWICKIES…Although the Seattle Seahawks aren’t exactly tearing up the NFL, it’s no fault of Orange’s Earl Thomas, who is leading the team with 15 tackles, 13 of them solo stops. He led the team with eight solo tackles Sunday in Seattle’s 31-14 loss to the Broncos in Denver. The Seahawks (1-1) will entertain the San Diego Chargers Sunday in a game that kicks off at 3:15 p.m. CST.
The Houston Astros finished their home stand Sunday with a 4-3 victory over the first-place Cincinnati Reds, to win the three-game series with two wins. Houston hit the road for Washington for a four-game series that began Monday, continues Friday for three games at Pittsburgh and ends with three games in Cincinnati after an off-day Monday. The Astros (72-77 through Sunday) still have an outside chance to finish the season at .500 or better. They end the 2010 season with a three-game series against the Chicago Cubbies at Minute Maid Park starting Oct. 1.
And speaking of the Cubs, Chicago rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin was hospitalized Sunday after his chest was punctured by part of a shattered bat against the Florida Marlins. He will miss the remainder of the season. It was another incident involving a maple wood bat shattering. What happened to the good old white ash bats made by Adirondack or Louisville Slugger?
Temple University, the alma mater of comedian Bill Cosby, is undefeated in its first three football games for the first time since 1972. But the Owls’ winning streak will probably come to a screeching halt Saturday when they meet powerhouse Penn State.
JUST BETWEEN US…The West Orange-Cove school district is still in shock over the tragic death of West Orange-Stark quarterback Reggie Garrett, who collapsed on the sidelines Friday night moments after throwing a touchdown pass and died about an hour later at Baptist Hospital Orange. Mustangs head coach Dan Hooks said the football team will not practice this week and canceled the scheduled game with Giddings on Saturday. Hooks plans to use this week to regroup and then return to practice next Monday in preparation for the Kirbyville game Oct. 2.