Mistakes kill Cowboys; Texans win Despite Mediocre Play
Last Sunday was a strange day for both of our Lone Star State’s National Football League franchises. The Dallas Cowboys were up against the only undefeated team in the NFL while the Houston Texans were hosting a team with one of the most porous defenses in the league.
The results were what the Vegas Boys predicted, but the manner in which each game unfolded was a bit odd because both the Cowboys and the Texans made a plethora of mistakes with different final results.
Dallas had a couple of crucial penalties that really helped the Atlanta Falcons remain undefeated half-way through the 2012 season while the Texans made most of their errors early and were able to correct those mistakes and play much better in the second half of their game against the Buffalo Bills.
The Cowboys defense, which appears to be getting better with each game, held the Falcons to a single touchdown, but allowed their offense to get close enough for Bridge City’s Matt Bryant to attempt half-a-dozen field goals.
The former Bridge City Cardinal made four of those three pointers which spelled the difference in Atlanta’s 19-13 win over the Pokes. Oddly enough, his two misses equaled the number he failed to convert during the entire 2011 season on 29 attempts.
The Cowboys were able to manage only one touchdown against the Falcons which came with only 5:21 left in the game and reduced their deficit at the time to 16-13.
Dallas’ defense stiffened on Atlanta’s next series, but cornerback Orlando Scandrick missed an easy tackle on a third and long situation that resulted in a first down.
Three plays later the Cowboys appeared to have Atlanta stopped, but Scandrick was called for defensive holding, giving Atlanta new life at the Cowboys’ 38-yard line. Atlanta ran several plays and on a fourth down, Bryant booted a 32-yard field goal with 17 seconds left, putting the final nail in the Cowboys’ coffin.
The loss was the second in a row for the Pokes and fourth in the last five games as they failed to take advantage of the NFC East Division-leading New York Giants 24-20 loss at home to the surging Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cowboys fell to 3-5 at the half-way point in the season and must travel to Philadelphia Sunday for a game against the Eagles.
The Texans started very slowly, stopping themselves with six of their seven penalties in the first half, and for the first time this season lost the battle for time of possession in the first half. The Bills had the football for 15 minutes, 46 seconds while Houston wasn’t far behind with 14 minutes, 14 seconds.
Houston kept stopping itself with penalties in the first half and managed to score only a single touchdown, keeping the defense-inept Bills in the game 7-6 at halftime. Actually Buffalo remained within striking distance after three quarters, 14-9.
A huge problem that faced the Texans was the fact the super running back Arian Foster had been slowed by a touch of the flu that had gone around the team during the last couple of weeks. And his back-up, Ben Tate didn’t play because of an injury, leaving that job for newcomer Justin Forsett.
But an ill Arian Foster is still better than a team having healthy running backs as he ground out 111 yards on 24 carries and scored on a three-yard touchdown run. His 10 rushing touchdowns are the most in the NFL this season.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak tried to set the team straight during his speech in the locker room at halftime. “We hurt ourselves in the first half,” quarterback Matt Schaub told the Houston Chronicle after the game. “When you do that, it’s hard to make up for it no matter who you are or who you’re playing.”
Schaub continued to play smart football completing 19-of-27 passes for 268 yards, two touchdown and zero interceptions with a 126.8 quarterback rating. His favorite target was wide receiver Andre Johnson, who hauled in eight passes for 118 yards, with six of the catches producing first downs. Tight ends Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham caught touchdown passes.
The Texans are now 39-5 under Kubiak when they run the football at least 30 times. The 71,698 fans appeared uneasy that the team didn’t blow out Buffalo the way they expected them to. But the 21-9 win was by 12 points which was more than the 10 ½- points the Texans were favored by the Vegas Boys.
And the Texans remained as the NFL’s leader in time of possession at the end of the game with 34:03 compared to Buffalo’s 25:57.
Houston did not do well when it played before a national Sunday night audience against the Green Bay Packers back on Oct. 14. This Sunday night the Texans head for the Windy City to meet the Chicago Bears, who also boast a 7-1 record like Houston. The early line by our Vegas Boys has the Bears favored by one point.
KWICKIES…Orange native Earl Thomas and his Seattle Seahawks’ teammates have been rather rude hosts to the NFL teams that venture to Seattle. The Dallas Cowboys were humbled 27-7 on Sept. 16, Green Bay lost 14-12 Sept. 24 thanks to the replacement referees, New England was nipped 24-23 on Oct. 14 and the Minnesota Vikings felt their wrath Sunday 30-20. The Seahawks stand at 5-4 and will host the New York Jets Sunday in a 3:05 p.m. game.
Mack Brown got somewhat of a vote of confidence when his Texas Longhorns went up to Lubbock Saturday and upset Texas Tech 31-22 after being a 5 ½-point underdog. There was some unrest among the Longhorn Faithful after losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma earlier this season. The road doesn’t get any smoother for the Longhorns with Iowa State, TCU and undefeated Kansas State remaining on the 2012 schedule.
Undefeated and No. 1 Alabama received quite a scare in Baton Rouge Saturday night when the LSU Tigers stymied the Crimson Tide during most of the second half until quarterback A.J. McCarron drove his team in the final 94 seconds of the game to the game-winning touchdown for a 21-17 victory over the No. 5-ranked Bayou Bengals and threw his hat into the ring as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Things won’t get any easier for 9-0 ‘Bama when the host Texas A&M (7-2) Saturday.
Things remained pretty much the same at the top of this week’s Associated Press Collegiate Football Poll with Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame retaining the top four places in this week’s poll. Georgia moved up two posts to No. 5, tied with Ohio State who was in sixth place last week, No. 7 Florida and No. 8 Florida State each jumped one notch, LSU dropped four places to No. 9 and Clemson retained its No. 10 position. Texas A&M moved up one place to No. 15, Texas moved back into the poll at No. 19 and Texas Tech slipped five spots to No. 25.
JUST BETWEEN US…With this being the final weekend of the regular high school football season, there still are several unanswered questions facing some of our local teams. The undefeated West Orange-Stark Mustangs journey to Silsbee Friday night to decide the District 21-3A champion. Both teams boast 5-0 league worksheets and have both secured a playoff berth. In the meantime Orangefield and Bridge City will battle for the traditional Bayou Bowl Championship, with the winner landing the district’s No. 3 playoff berth. The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears need a win over the Vidor Pirates Friday to nab the fourth and final playoff spot in District 20-4A. The Pirates already have qualified for the playoffs. Deweyville has an important game at home Friday night against Groveton. A Pirate win will put them in the state playoffs. And the Orange Community Christian Lions are in a three-way tie for the district title and are headed for the playoffs. Head Coach Ben Yurcho will have a better idea of the Lions’ playoff position if they defeat Magnolia Legacy Prep Saturday at noon in Orange. So there ought to be plenty of football playoff action for Orange Area schools after the regular season concludes this weekend.