Texans shine, Cowboys implode In NFL’s opening games
About the only similarity the season openers for the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys had in common Sunday was that both teams played extremely well in the early going.
The biggest difference between the two games was that the Texans jumped off to a 34-0 lead at halftime and continued to play like the champions they hope to be and won 34-7 while the Cowboys fell apart when it came to crunch time.
In fact, Sunday night was the first time in the Dallas Cowboys’ franchise history that the team failed to post a victory after leading by 14 or more points in the fourth period.
But a blocked punt, a fumble by Tony Romo on the New York Jets’ three yard-line and Romo’s wayward pass that was picked off spelled the difference in the Jets’ 27-24 comeback victory.
Romo looked like his comeback after missing the final 10 games of last season with a broken collarbone would be a brilliant one. He got off to a great start by going 4-for-5 for 61 yards, including a slant to Dez Bryant that picked up 42 yards.
Romo then found Bryant in the left corner of the end zone and the second-year receiver out-jumped All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie for the touchdown grab. Actually both players had their hands firmly on the ball, but the tied reception goes to the offensive player, according to NFL rules.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan really wanted to win this game badly for the New York area that was commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as an emotional backdrop. He also wanted to out-fox his brother Rob, who is the new defensive coordinator for the Cowboys.
However, the Cowboys appeared in command of the situation and led 24-10 with 14:05 left in the fourth quarter when Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez went to a no-huddle offense and found Plaxico Burress, who made a leaping grab of the pass for a touchdown and put the Jets back in the game.
The Cowboys went on the move and Romo connected with Jason Whitten, who got bounced out of bounds at the Jets 3. On third down Romo found nobody open and decided to run and fumbled with the Jets recovering.
Sanchez reciprocated when he was hit a coughed up the ball and the Cowboys recovered with six minutes left and Dallas leading 24-17. Romo failed to complete a pass and a run lost two yards. The Cowboys are called for a delay of game and then an illegal procedure making it third-and 22.
Romo’s pass is almost picked off forcing a punt, which was blocked by Joe McKnight and run back for a touchdown by Isaiah Trufant, who was promoted from the practice squad Saturday. The PAT tied the score at 24-24 with five minutes left.
Again Romo can’t move the team and the Cowboys must punt. This one gets off that rolls into the end zone with 2:16 left. Sanchez kept the drive alive by hitting La Danian Tomlinson for a first down, but the Jets punt it back to Dallas with 55 seconds remaining.
On the first play Romo slung a pass right to Jets All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, who returned it to the Cowboys 32. The Cowboys’ defense did a good job, forcing a fourth down.
Nick Folk, who was cut as the Cowboys’ kicker last season, calmly booted a 50-yard field goal, putting the Jets in front 27-24 with 27 seconds left. An offensive interference call on Witten nullified a completion and Romo misfired on his final try to seal the Cowboys’ fate.
According to ology.com “in the almost 10 years Romo has been in the NFL, he’s developed into the Karl Malone of the league—he possesses loads of talent but can never seem to put it together to win in the clutch.”
That’s certainly not the case of Houston quarterback Matt Schaub who had a 101.6 rating in the first half when he led the Texans to a 34-0 halftime lead.
Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 defense was very effective, aided by the absence of super quarterback Peyton Manning, who is recovering from his third neck surgery since last season.
Phillips’ hunch to switch Mario Williams from defensive end to outside linebacker reaped huge dividends. On the Colts’ fourth offensive play, Williams roared past tight end Dallas Clark and nailed quarterback Kerry Collins for his 49th career sack.
An average-sized tight end or H-back is over-matched by the 6-9, 290-pound Williams, who is quick as a cat. Future teams will have a problem figuring out who will be able to block Williams.
Second-year running back Ben Tate, who missed the entire 2010 season with a broken leg, subbed very adequately for Arian Foster, who sat out Sunday’s game with a sore hamstring. Tate rushed for 116 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown.
“That’s probably the best half of football we’ve played,” head coach Gary Kubiak told The Houston Chronicle. “It was explosive in every area—offense, defense and special teams.” Jacoby Jones returned a punt 79 yards for the Texans’ final touchdown.
The Texans also started off the 2010 season with a big win over Indianapolis and won four of their first six games before collapsing and finishing with a dismal 6-10. So they will have to live by the old coaches’ cliché of “playing them one at a time,”
KWICKIES…Orange County’s two NFL players were both on teams that lost Sunday, but they performed well. Bridge City’s Matt Bryant was 2-2 in field goals, connecting on a 48-yarder and one from 25 yards as his Atlanta Falcons fell to the Chicago Bears 30-12. West Orange-Stark’s Earl Thomas was second on his team with seven tackles and two assists, but his Seattle Seahawks lost to the San Francisco 49ers 33-17.
It appears the University of Houston held true to their word when they recruited West Orange-Stark wide receiver Mark Roberts last year and told him he would see action as a true freshman. Roberts has blocked a kick in each of the Cougar’s two wins so far this season—against UCLA last week in Houston’s 38-34 victory and Saturday when they routed North Texas 48-23. Roberts also caught two passes Saturday for 21 yards.
Today could very well be the day the Houston Astros post their 100th loss with the major league’s winningest team, the Philadelphia Phillies at Minute Maid Park for a three-game series that began Monday when the Astros were already sitting at 97 losses to tie the franchise record for setbacks. The Phillies had planned to start former Astro Roy Oswalt on Monday, Cole Hamels (14-7) Tuesday and Roy Halladay (17-5) on Wednesday.
It’s strange how things have changed with time in the tennis world. In her match Sunday in the U.S. Open Serena Williams shouted “Come on” when hoping for a shot to stay in bounds and the umpire Eva Asderaki ruled Williams hindered opponent Sam Stosur’s ability to complete the point and awarded it to Stosur, who on the match easily 6-2, 6-3. I remember the days of John McEnroe who complained about the officiating in nearly every match.
The Oklahoma Sooners were named the No. 1 team this week by the Associated Press Top 25 Poll for the 100th time since the football poll began in 1936. The Sooners remained in the top spot from last week’s poll while Alabama switched places with LSU and was second while the Tigers were No. 3. Boise State remained fourth, Florida State stayed No. 5 and Stanford was again sixth, while Wisconsin and Oklahoma State each moved up a notch to No. 7 and 8, idle Texas A&M dropped down two slots to No. 9 and Nebraska remained at No. 10. Other Texas teams in the Top 25 include Baylor which moved up one spot to No. 19, TCU which jumped two slots to No. 23 and Texas which remained at No. 24.
JUST BETWEEN US…Last Friday was a great day for Orange area high school football teams, who not only won, but did it convincingly. LCM battered Caney Creek 54-14 to go 3-0 while Vidor overpowered Kirbyville 35-7 for a 3-0 mark, Deweyville remained perfect in three contests by racing past Woodville 34-14. Bridge City took down Kelly 20-7 for a 2-1 mark while Orangefield used three interceptions by Eric Truncale, who ran one back 40 yards for a touchdown to bash Woodville 28-6. The Bobcats now stand at 2-1.