The 2011 NFL season is 75 per cent complete with 12 games played and four more to go. Surprisingly, both of the Lone Star State franchises are leading their respective divisions and should be heading to the playoffs in another month.

The Houston Texans appear to be traveling around the numerous roadblocks that fate has created for them and continue to win without the guidance of their No. 1 or No. 2 quarterbacks, without their best pass-catching receiver and without their best defensive lineman.

Starting quarterback Matt Schaub and his backup Matt Leinart suffered season-ending injuries along with defensive star Mario Williams while wide receiver Andre Johnson injured his other hamstring Sunday and may miss some more time this season.

The Dallas Cowboys, on the other hand, are relatively healthy, but have been just winning by the skin of their teeth and not playing sound football on either side of the ball. They seem to jump out to a comfortable lead, let it slip away and then rally at the end of the game to eke out a victory.

Sunday the Texans were as much as a three-point underdog to the Atlanta Falcons, despite the fact the game was played at Reliant Stadium in Houston before a partisan crowd of 70,000-plus. This was to be the first start for rookie T.J Yates, the No. 3 quarterback on the Texans’ depth chart.

Yates’ assignment was to manage the game without making any serious blunders, protecting the Texans’ two-game lead over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South Division with four games to go.

Both defenses played well for three quarters with the score tied at 10-10 late in the third period. The Texans took over at their own 15 yard line as Yates directed what turned out to be the winning scoring drive that covered 85 yards in 19 plays and consumed a club-record 10 minutes, 41 seconds.

Not only was this a great drive for the offense, but it also gave the defensive unit a great chance to catch their breath and be rested when Atlanta would try to tie the game after Houston took a 17-10 lead with 6:05 left in the game.

Orange native Wade Phillips’ defense continued to show why it is No. 1 in the NFL as it stymied the on-charging Falcons on their final attempt to score the tying touchdown, securing the Texans’ franchise-record sixth straight victory in a single season and their two-game hold on first place in the AFC South.

If the Texas win at Cincinnati Sunday and New Orleans win at Tennessee, The Texans will clench the NFC south title over the Titans with three games left in the regular season.
I the Texans win and the Titans lose, no matter what happened over the last three weekends, the Texans will secure the division because they are guaranteed of an advantage in the third tie breaker//common game.

Yates didn’t break any NFL records with his performance, Sunday, he merely managed the game to the satisfaction of everyone concerned, showed remarkable poise under tremendous pressure, completed 12-of-25 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown and most importantly DIDN’T THROW AN INTERCEPTION!!!

The Cowboys went into their game in the desert against the Arizona Cardinals with a one-game lead over the New York Giants, who lost the Green Bay 38-35 before the Cowboy game kicked off. So the Pokes had a chance to increase their lead in the NFC East Division to two games with a victory.

Dallas followed its script to the letter, jumping out to a 13-6 lead going into the fourth quarter. And true to form the Cowboys’ defense allowed the tying touchdown to the Cardinals early in the fourth period and the score remained tied at 13-all throughout most of the final period.
And like the Houston Texans, the Cowboys were en route to the game-winning drive in the final few minutes of the game. Quarterback Tony Romo was superb with his clutch third-down passes to keep the drive alive, hitting Dez Bryant with a 15-yard pass at the Cards’ 31-yard line with 26 seconds and two time outs remaining.

First-year head coach Jason Garrett instructed Romo to spike the ball instead of using one of the time outs and then had rookie kicker Dan Bailey attempt a 49-yard game-winning field goal.

The ball was snapped, the kick was up and good, but lo and behold, a time out was called just before the snap to ice the kicker. But it wasn’t Arizona who called time, but Garrett, who explained that he wanted to make sure the Cowboys’ field goal unit was settled before Bailey’s kick. He also was concerned that the play clock was running down.

As fate would have it, when the REAL field goal was attempted, it fell short and sent the game into overtime. The Cowboys lost the coin flip and eventually the football game as Arizona scored on a 52-yard touchdown pass on which half-a-dozen tackles were missed, giving the Cards a 19-13 victory.

After the game Garrett explained to the baffled reporters, “We very well could have taken a timeout there,” Garrett said. “We felt like we were in range at that point. Tony (Romo) had them on the line of scrimmage quickly, so we went ahead and clocked it and used that as a timeout.”

Team owner Jerry Jones, who criticized Garrett for conservative play-calling after a close loss to the New England Patriots in October, refrained from offering his opinion on the clock management at the end of this game.

But if the Cowboys don’t make the playoffs because of Garrett’s gaffe, many football writers believe Jones will fire him on the spot.

KWICKIES…A tip of the Korner Kap to the West Orange-Stark Mustangs, who after getting off to a 1-3 start, reeled off nine straight victories including three impressive wins in the state playoffs before falling to last year’s state runner-up Coldspring Friday night in Humble. The Mustangs enjoyed a good season and should have a nice nucleus of players returning for the 2012 season.

Tiger Woods returned to the winner circle he used to frequent so often, after going more than two years and 26 tournaments without a tour victory. Tiger birdied the 71st hole at the Chevron World Challenge to tie Zach Johnson for the lead and then nailed a six-foot birdie on the final hole to win the $1.2 million winner’s share at Thousand Oaks, CA.

The Seattle Seahawks will entertain the St. Louis Rams on Monday Night Football this weekend. Area fans will be able to watch Orange’s Earl Thomas (No. 29) in action at his free safety position for the Seahawks.

The Coaches’ All-District 21-3A football team has been announced and Bridge City quarterback Matt Menard was the district’s Most Valuable Player, West Orange-Stark running back Britton Lindsey was the MVP on offense and teammate Daniel Woodson was the MVP on defense. The Mustangs’ Cornel Thompson was named Coach of the Year in his first season at the helm of West Orange-Stark.

New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees completed 26-of 36 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns to lead his team to a 31-17 victory over Detroit Sunday night in the Louisiana Superdome. Brees’ performance gave him 4,031 yards for the season making him the first quarterback in NFL history to eclipse the 4,000-yard mark in the first 12 games of a season. Brees also owns the NFL record of completing at least 20 passes in 32 consecutive games.

JUST BETWEEN US…Besides Houston and Dallas leading their respective divisions with four games to go, two of the remaining six divisions already have a winner including the undefeated Green Bay Packers, who have clinched the NFC North and the San Francisco 49ers who have wrapped up the NFC West title. The New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints both enjoy two-game leads in the AFC East and NFC South, respectively, while Denver and Oakland are tied for first place in the AFC West. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are deadlocked for first place in the AFC North.