Texans, Cowboys Sitting Well at NFL’S Halfway Point

The National Football League last weekend reached the half-way mark in its 16-game 2014 schedule with several surprises and quite a few disappointments.

The two franchises in our fair state—the Dallas Cowboys (6-2) and the Houston Texans (4-4)— are both ahead of the won-loss records they had posted at this time last year. But neither team is satisfied with their achievements at the season’s mid-way point.

The Dallas Cowboys are riding the dramatic improvement of their offense, starting with the high draft picks on the offensive line that are doing a tremendous job protecting veteran quarterback Tony Romo and opening gaping holes for running back DeMarco Murray.

The Cowboys’ defense continues to get better with every game, dramatically reducing the number of boneheaded mistakes and penalties that kept them on the field so much longer last season and working more like a unit as the season progresses.

So now when Idiot Owner Jerry Jones starts popping his gums about his team being a Super Bowl contender, instead of the listeners winding their finger around their ear implying that Jethroe is off his rocker, they merely smile and remind him that it’s still October and the season is only half over.

However, the Houston Chronicle runs a weekly power ranking of all 32 NFL teams each week and last week had the Dallas Cowboys ranked No. 1, pointing out that “DeMarco Murray leads the NFL in rushing with 913 yards, third in NFL history after seven games behind Terrell Davis (1001) and Jamal Lewis (977).”

The Texans are sure to move up from their No. 21 position last week based on three consecutive losses and not counting their easy 30-16 win over the Titans in Tennessee Sunday afternoon, which was their only victory during the entire month of October.

The Chronicle pretty much hit the nail on the head evaluating Sunday’s win. “The victory means they are 4-4. Nothing more. Nothing less. They have beaten four teams they were better than (Redskins, Oakland, Buffalo and Tennessee) and lost to four teams that were better than them (NY Giants, Dallas, Indianapolis and the Steelers).

“A 4-4 record is mediocre. A 5-4 record with a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday isn’t. That would show the NFL the Texans mean business,” the article concluded. Houston is only one game out of first place in the AFC South after Indianapolis lost to Pittsburgh Sunday.

However, three of the Texans’ losses have been by seven or fewer points, with the only decisive setback being 30-17 to the New York Giants, who didn’t have to worry about running back Arian Foster, who missed the game with an injury.

Foster appeared healthy Sunday by blasting through the Titans’ defense for 151 yards on 20 carries and scoring three touchdowns. He has gained 766 yards on 146 carries for a nifty 5.2 average and seven rushing touchdowns

And the defense was once again led by defensive end J.J. Watt who was double-teamed the entire game. Watt came through getting the Texans only two sacks, forcing a fumble, having two tackles for losses and a pass deflection. He helped the defense limit Tennessee to 36 yards rushing and only 2.8 yards per carry.

As far as the rest of the league is concerned at the halfway point, the Arizona Cardinals (6-1) and the Detroit Lions (6-2) join the Dallas Cowboys as teams off to a surprising start halfway through the schedule. Most of the other division leaders are playing up to expectation.

Winless Oakland and 1-7 Jacksonville are doing what was expected of them, but the New York Jets, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans and even the world champion Seattle Seahawks are not doing as well as they were predicted to do.

Seattle is 4-3 after pulling out a hard-fought 13-9 defensive battle against the Carolina Panthers Sunday. Rumors of dissention involving Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson are either untrue or cannot be pin-pointed. Percy Harvin said Wilson was hard to work with, but the truth is that Harvin was the problem and he’s gone now.

All-Pro safety Earl Thomas of Orange was quoted after Sunday’s big win as saying that Wilson is a very talented quarterback and a great team leader and that everything is all right with the Seahawks.

“There’s not that big of a concern that we’re just 4-3,” Thomas said in the Seattle locker room. “We don’t worry about things like that. We are just focusing on our next game Sunday at Oakland.”

KWICKIES…Congrats to the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battling Bear Marching Band for being one of the top four finishers in the Class 4A regional contest held at Longview Saturday and making it to the state finals.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger set franchise records with 522 passing yards and six touchdowns in Sunday’s 51-34 upset victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Big Ben’s yardage total was the fourth highest in NFL history and he became the first player to ever go over 500 yards passing twice. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck passed for 400 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw three interceptions. Perhaps those gaudy striped Steelers’ 1934 replica uniforms affected the Colts pass defenders.

Not to be outdone locally, West Orange-Stark sophomore quarterback Jack Dallas riddled the Hamshire-Fannett defense for six touchdown passes, connecting on 12-of-13 aerials for 329 yards as the Mustangs spanked the Longhorns 54-21 in a District 9-4A-II contest played at Dan R. Hooks Stadium in West Orange Friday night. His favorite target was senior receiver Deionte Thompson who hauled in scoring passes of 43, 68, 21 and 75 yards.

By the time this Korner hits the streets on Wednesday the San Francisco Giants could already be the 2014 World Champions. But the Royals play tough in Kansas City and could very well extend the World Series to Game 7.

Former University of Houston soccer player Samantha Sackos is suing the NCAA, alleging the organization and its schools are violating the wage-and-hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. She played for the Lady Cougars from 2010-2013-14. The NCAA and every Division I school are listed as defendants. The plaintiff seeks “unpaid wages” and an injunction against the NCAA and its member schools. 

The Southland Conference got thrown into turmoil at the top after the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks upset previously undefeated Southeastern Louisiana 27-17 Saturday. Today, Southeastern, Central Arkansas, Sam Houston State, SFA and my McNeese Cowboys all have one loss in SLC play. Lamar and Northwestern State both stand at 2-2 and are still in the hunt for the conference title.

JUST BETWEEN US…In all the years that I’ve been covering the West Orange-Stark Mustangs, I cannot remember them playing for a district championship against a team that was undefeated for the entire season. I remember the Mustangs being undefeated, but never the opponent. In year’s gone by whenever the ‘Stangs were playing the hyphenated teams (Hardin-Jefferson or Hamshire-Fannett), there was never much fear of losing. But Friday night’s game against 8-0 Hardin-Jefferson at Sour Lake is drawing state-wide attention. It should be a game Mustang fans don’t want to miss.