If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?
It was a game that Tyler Durden could definitely appreciate. The Texans defense --- prior to Sunday, a unit on pace to set records for futility --- leaves New York City and returns home to Houston. Only they seem to return as someone else. They played like we want them to play. They dominated like we want them to dominate. They were strong in all the areas that we've wished they would be.
Two weeks ago, we'd lost on a Hail Mary pass, and I found myself numb --- not angry, not sad, just numb. One week ago, we knew that :52 seconds was more than enough time for the Jets to score on our atrocious secondary, and we were right.
And then, something happened: I let go. Lost in oblivion, dark and silent and complete, I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom.
Maybe that's it. Maybe, following the Jets game, the defense let go. Maybe they'd finally lost all hope, and, in so doing, found the freedom to just go out there and play. Maybe Frank Bush, the liberator who destroyed my team's defense, had realigned my perceptions. Or could it be that this defense was only as real as Tyler Durden --- a split personality of our real defense that will disappear as soon as the real defense realizes what is going on?
Or maybe the answer isn't near so convoluted. Maybe the Texans got lucky in running up against a rookie quarterback who was wholly unprepared for the moment, improved themselves slightly by benching or limiting the snaps of the worst parts of the defense, saw strong performances from some of the important pieces of the D, and just generally played above their heads for a day.
I am Jack's continued lack of faith in Frank Bush and Gary Kubiak.
7.3 catches, 105.8 yards, 1 TD
That's Andre Johnson's average line against the Titans since Cortland Finnegan --- allegedly a top-flight corner --- became a starter for the Methopotamian defense. If we include 2006, when Finnegan only started two games, Andre's average is 7.4 catches, 103.6 yards, and .86 TDs. That's right, Andre has IMPROVED his yards per game and TDs per game against the BESFs since Finnegan became a regular starter.
What Does "BESF" Stand For?
For those who did not read DGDB&D, "BESF" is an initialism (NOT an acronym) for "Baby-Eating Sister-F[ornicators]," a name which we derived from this video.
A Photo Essay On What Happens When Andre Johnson Dislikes Your Actions
After the game, Jeff Fisher said that Cortland Finnegan had not thrown a punch before Johnson started beating him like a rented mule. In a very literal sense, Fisher is correct; Finnegan threw a girly slap.
Now that word is that Johnson will not be suspended...
Finnegan likewise seems to have avoided suspension. I can only assume that the league felt sympathy for the widdle guy catching a beating on television and decided Finnegan's being known as a cheap-shotting, dirty wuss was punishment enough.
Yards per game that Arian Foster needs to average over the last five games to break Steve Slaton's single-season rushing record (1,282 in 2008).
Catches per game and receiving yards per game, respectively, that Foster needs to break the team record for catches by a running back (68 by Domanick Williams in 2004) and receiving yards in a season by a running back (588 by same).
Total yards from scrimmage Foster needs over his last five games to break the team single-season record for total yards. He currently sits third on the list.
- 1,776--Domanick Williams, 2004
- 1,659--Steve Slaton, 2008
- 1,600--Arian Foster, 2010
- 1,579--Andre Johnson, 2009
- 1,575--Andre Johnson, 2008
- 1,382--Domanick Williams, 2003
- 1,313--Domanick Williams, 2005
- 1,156--Andre Johnson, 2004
- 1,147--Andre Johnson, 2006
- 966--Andre Johnson, 2003
- 922--Kevin Walter, 2008
Side note: How sad is it that Kevin Walter's 922 yard season is the
10th-11th-best single-season total the Texans have? (Answer: Very sad. Thankfully, Andre Johnson (currently 869 yards) will soon pass Walter, possibly this week. You know, since he's not suspended and all.)
Rushing yards Arian Foster needs to pass the season team rushing totals for any previous Texans' season.
Yards from scrimmage Arian Foster is ahead of #2 Jamaal Charles by. 220 is approximately the gap between Charles and #9 Ahmad Bradshaw.
Total touches by Foster on Sunday. No running back in the league has any many touches in a game this year. Foster's 9 catches on the day were also the most by any back with at least 20 rushing attempts in the same game.
A Kiss On The Hand May Be Quite Continental
Trying to figure out what to get your special ladyfriend for Christmas? Well, let's think about this. Women like jewelry. Women like animals. Most women like penises. So, I say go the obvious route and get her jewelry made from plastinated bull penises.
Or, if your gal has a bit of a limp, perhaps she would appreciate the walking stick made from a bull penis. No matter which gift you choose, this is sure to be a Christmas that she won't soon forget!
Though it was mentioned in passing on the NBC scroll during Sunday Night Football that Sunday's result against the Titans was the Texans' first shut-out since 2004 (vs. Jacksonville, Dec. 26), that kind of fails to give this fact its proper context. Consider that all of the following things have happened since the Texans last pitched a shutout, including:
North Korea announced it had nuclear weapons; Pope Benedict was pope-ificated; the first 13th root calculation of a 200-digit number was computed by Alexis Lemaire; Wedding Crashers; Hurricane Katrina; Brownie did a heckuva job; NASA retrieved dust from a comet; bird flu; Clerks II; Snakes On A Plane; Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan; Lance Armstrong won his seventh and final Tour de France; I was divorced, married, adopted a son, and had a daughter; two World Cups were held, with Italy and Spin winning; No Country For Old Men; Superbad; Pluto ceased to be considered a planet; Marion Jones surrendered her gold medals and served time in prison; petroleum hit $100/barrel; a single total lunar eclipse was visible from five continents; Hurricane Gustav; Hurricane Ike; WALL-E; Tropic Thunder; Religulous; the CERN Large Hadron Collider was turned on; the global financial crisis; a privately manufactured and funded space vehicle was launched; the RMS QE2 sailed her final voyage and became a floating hotel; the U.S. elected a black President; Paul Blart: Mall Cop; the Detroit Lions lost 19 straight regular season games; Yankee Stadium closed; three major league pitchers --- Roy Halladay, Dallas Braden, and Mark Buehrle --- threw perfect games; the moon hit perigee (closest point of its orbit to Earth) at the same time as the fullest part of its lunar cycle, making it appear 14% larger and 30% brighter in the night sky; six different teams won Stanley Cups, five different teams won Super Bowls, six different teams won World Series, four different teams won NBA titles, and either Chelsea or Manchester United won every Premier League title; Reggie Bush won a Heisman ... and then did not; and Hunter S. Thompson, Pope John Paul II, Johnnie Cochran, Peter Jennings, Rosa Parks, Richard Pryor, Lou Rawls, Wilson Pickett, Chris Penn, Don Knotts, Darren McGavin, Kirby Puckett, Mickey Spillane, Buck O'Neill, Ed Bradley, Gerald Ford, Bam Bam Bigelow, Anna Nicole Smith, Darryl Stingley, Kurt Vonnegut, David Halberstam, Boris Yeltsin, Bill Walsh, Merv Griffin, Phil Rizzuto, Luciano Pavarotti, Robert Goulet, Sean Taylor, Pimp C., Sir Edmund Hillary, Bo Diddley, Estelle Getty, Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes, Don LaFontaine, Bettie Page, Eartha Kitt, Dom DeLuise, Chuck Daly, Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Walter Cronkite, Les Paul, Ted Kennedy, Kim Peek, Brittany Murphy, Teddy Pedergrass, J.D. Salinger, Alexander Haig, Corey Haim, Lena Horne, Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper, and Manute Bol died.
Also, the shutout against the Jags occurred the same day as the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami hit and that Reggie White died. Coincidence? I think not; these things come in threes, you know.
(NBC's scroll and the CBS broadcast during the game also did not mention that it was only the team's second shut-out EVER. That's right: 8.5 years of football, two shutouts, though both were against division opponents. So we have that going for us, which is nice.)
Addition by Subtraction
Speaking of the defense, I have to confess to being extremely pleased by three changes.
First, Darryl Sharpton started over Zac Diles. Even if Sharpton never becomes a Pro Bowl WLB, he will also never transmogrify into Zac Diles. I know this for a fact, and I consider that a net positive. I wasn't even angry at Sharpton's illegal contact penalty during the game; at least he was close enough to a receiver to make contact.
Secondly, after Eugene Wilson gift-wrapped Braylon Edwards's long fourth-quarter catch last week, it was a welcome sight to have much more Troy Nolan in my life.
Finally, I was happy to see Brice McCain officially inactive, thereby establishing himself as being so bad at his job that NOT showing up for work makes everyone a little better at their own jobs.
If you want to point to one thing the Texans did that made a difference in their performance, "benching/limiting the players with the highest suck-factor" has to top your list. I still don't know that these moves had more of an impact that the Titans' own internal problems did, but they had to help.
R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen
According to Jason Babin, "tough" is getting your ass kicked without getting knocked unconscious.
"I was surprised. He’s a soft spoken guy who works hard, does the right things," Babin said. "To see him land punches on someone without a helmet on, that was surprising. Emotions get high. That’s the way it goes.
"You’d think for a guy who’s 220 pounds to connect like that three times he would knock him out. I don’t know, I already thought he was tough, but I guess Cortland is tougher than I thought."
Would someone like to clue the esteemed scholar from Directional Michigan in to the fact that knocking someone out when they know they are in a fight is pretty difficult? I realize Hollywood makes it look like one-punch knockouts are the norm, but that's simply not accurate.
Whether from a punch or an auto accident or a fat girl falling on your head, a loss of consciousness from head trauma is generally happens in one of two ways: blunt-force trauma (think straight right hand) or rotational velocity that causes the brain to rotate within the skull (think left hook to the jaw). In either situation, the force of the punch (not to be confused with the weightspeed of the punch) must cause the target's brain to bounce against the inside of his skull or rotate within the skull slightly, thereby causing the neurons to momentarily go batty and misfire, triggering a loss of consciousness. (Think of the bright lights / "stars" you see when you get hit in the head with something ... times 100.)
In a streetfight-style fight such as Finnegan and Johnson had, where people wind up wrestling to the ground or are otherwise not squared off and upright as they would be in boxing, the odds of getting a rotational-force knockout are slim once both parties are aware there is a fight going on (meaning no chance for a preemptive punch to an unsuspecting target). This leaves blunt force.
Babin seems to suggest that, despite Finnegan ducking away, falling to the ground, cowering in the fetal position, and covering his head while on the ground, the 35-40 lbs Johnson has on Finnegan should have been enough --- if Cortland wasn't so "tough," that is --- for Johnson to knock Finnegan out. While I have no doubt that, had the fight been allowed to continue, Johnson would have inflicted serious damage on the mouthy leprechaun, I think it's almost as unrealistic for Babin to expect a knockout as it was for Charlie Casserly to expect Babin to be worth trading up for.
Now, just for grins...
Snatch That Pebble
There are roughly 8,000 species of grasshopper in the world (8,001 if you include this), yet there are only seven species of locusts. This is noteworthy simply because the difference between grasshoppers and locusts has nothing to do with taxonomy and is entirely a function of insect sociology. Specifically, there are seven species of grasshopper that on their own are simply grasshoppers, but, when you get enough of them in a group, exhibit gregarious locust behavior.
The process that causes this change is generally understood to result from overcrowding. Which is to say, if you get enough grasshoppers in a specific area, the increased stimulation of their hindlegs releases an overabundance of serotonin in the grasshoppers, which, in turn, causes them to eat much more (think Dust Bowl-era crop destruction), swarm (ditto), and furiously sexificate one another. They even change colors to let everyone else know what's up.
I mention this not because I think you care, but because of a realization I had while at Sam's Club not too long ago. Whereas grasshoppers morph into an over-eating, road-tripping gangbang if you get a bunch of them together, humans -- at best -- start running into one another, going the wrong way down parking rows, fighting with one another over Cabbage Patch Dolls, and just generally acting like a mass of stupidity.
Score one for the bugs, I guess.
Place At The Table!
Remember in The Program when Lattimer comes back from his three-game suspension for steroids, gets trucked by a running back in the first game, and decides to resume juicing so that he can continue to play at a high level? Well, far be it from me to insinuate anything, BUT I was reminded of that part of the movie after seeing Cushing knock Bo Scaife into the middle of next week with this hit:
I ain't sayin'...I'm just sayin'.
"Starting defense! Place at the table! WOOOO!" /smashes car windows with face
Number of Houston Texans players other than Glover Quin who have intercepted three passes in a game. The old record was two picks, accomplished by Aaron Glenn (2002, v. Steelers), Marcus Coleman (2003, v. Dolphins), Dunta Robinson (2004, v. Raiders), Bernard Pollard (2009, v. Colts), and Troy Nolan (2010, v. Raiders).
The maddening thing about Quin's interceptions, of course, is that he showed that he can in fact catch a football. It would have been nice if he'd shown as much on the Hail Mary at the end of the Jags game. (Yes, I know that players are coached to bat the ball down, as we covered that in a previous Hangover, but Quin demonstrated that he is much better at just catching the ball than he is at batting it downward. That's painful to see.)
Al Davis Rolled Over In His Grave
Speaking of the Raiders, when it comes to turnovers, they've been victimized by Houston more than any other Texans opponent except Jacksonville. Houston has three or more turnovers in a game against Oakland in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010 and against Jacksonville in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008. When you figure how many more chances Houston has had against the Jaguars than against Oakland, the victimization of the Raiders is especially surprising.
A Random List of Semi-Embarrassing Things That I Like
- Hot Pockets
- Point Break
- Jason Mraz's music
- Little Penguin wines
- Chicken McNuggets
- Letting my wife drive
- ESPN's Great Outdoor Games
- "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes
- Amobi Okoye
Don't You Love It When People Speak In Absolutes When They Really Have No Clue What Is Going On?
BIGBADBRAD deigned to discuss the Finnegan-Johnson fight (or, as it is to become known, the Leprechaun Massacre):
Both Finnegan and Johnson will be suspended for this fight.
Except, you know, they won't be. It seems the league felt that Finnegan telling the Texans' bench to "watch this" before he grabbed Johnson's mask, plus Finnegan's throwing the first "punch," meant that Johnson's actions, while fine-worthy, did not mandate a suspension. Hard to disagree with that unless you are a myopic, meth-addled Titans fan.
If Brad were merely wrong about his prediction, I wouldn't even discuss it, because commenting on every time Brad is wrong about something would be a full-time job. However, Brad's next sentence makes this worth a mention.
If they aren't, then the NFL 'personal conduct policy' is a farce.
While the personal-conduct policy may very well be a "farce," please raise your hand if you think the personal-conduct policy has anything to do with this incident. (Spoiler alert: If your hand is raised, you're wrong.) The personal-conduct policy only governs players' (and other certain persons') off-field activities. An on-field fight and any suspension that follows from it is governed by Section 11 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which covers fines and suspensions for on-field actions.
Brad proselytize on something he knows nothing about? That's unpossible!
NFL 2010: The Wussification
Wanna see the worst personal foul penalty of the season? On punt coverage, with an extremely talented return man in possession of the ball, Troy Nolan leveled a big hit on the sideline as Marc Mariani looked to cut back across the grain. The flag was thrown because Mariani was, apparently, out of bounds.
How out of bounds?
This out of bounds:
(Hey there, Zac Diles! I know you didn't start, but it's good to see that you were almost able to make your cost-effective suckiness felt nonetheless.)
EXTREME CLOSE UP!!!!
I got the 3" figure by measuring the width of the heel of a pair of my own shoes. I wear an 11.5, and I have no idea what size shoe Mariani wears, but this seems like a reasonable approximation.
So the official felt that Nolan --- while running full speed on punt coverage and keeping his eyes up on a return man who has made several big plays already this year --- should have realized that roughly 3" of the back of Mariani's foot was out of bounds. Nevermind that, from the front of the foot, it likely would have looked to Nolan like Mariani was in-bounds. Nevermind that Mariani apparently didn't realize that he was out of bounds, as he attempted to cut back toward the field. Nevermind that Nolan did not lead with his head and instead made a clean hit with his shoulder as the league keeps screaming at people to do.
Nevermind any of that.
I understand the need to protect players, and I understand that there are lots of players who are cheap-shot-throwing little punks who like the chance to hit defenseless players. At the same time, I understand that this is still a man's game based on hitting the guy with the ball unless a whistle blows to tell you not to. No whistle had blown here, Nolan had no reason to know that Mariani was out, and flagging players for this kind of hit is exactly the type of penalty that people complain about when they complain that the NFL is going too far with penalizing hits.
More On The Defense
In addition to being the first shut-out since Pluto was a planet, Sunday's game was the second-best overall defensive performance in team history. It was the second-best rushing D performance ever in terms of yards allowed.
- 18---Redskins, 2010
- 24---Titans, 2010
- 27---Jets, 2006
- 39---Cardinals, 2005
- 44---Cardinals, 2009
- 44---Colts, 2010
- 45---Raiders, 2009
- 46---Bengals, 2009
- 47---Saints, 2007
- 54---Bears, 2004
However, unlike the Washington game (and some of the other games on that list) where the opponent did not run because it was easier to simply throw for 300+ yards, Sunday's performance against Tennessee was good across the board. The line:
24 rushing, 138 passing, 162 total, 3 turnovers
The only game that was better? Not shocking, it was the shut-out against the Jags:
95 rushing, 35 passing, 130 total, 3 turnovers
Given the offense-happy rule changes since 2004, one could even make the case that shutting down a running team with CJ2K held to 5 yards ---the worst rushing game of his career, incidentally--- is actually more impressive than the shut-out of the Jags. However one thing is certain: when you consider that Sunday's performance was the first time all season that the Texans held an opponent under 200, under 300, or even under 350 total yards, the shut-out of the Titans is definitely the most surprising positive defensive performance in team history.
And Now, A Bit of Genius From XCKD
Mario Williams' sack on the first play of the game was a thing of mutant beauty. After all, how many defensive ends in this league can shove Michael Roos to the ground with seemingly minimal effort and then run down a QB from behind?
More importantly, that play seemed to rattle Smith for the rest of the day. Had Mario not started the game like that, who knows if Smith finds a rhythm. As it was, however, flummoxed at the vital moment, Rusty's nerve deserted him, and the Titans' offense never got on track.
Amobi Amobah Life Goes Ooooon On, Tra-La-La-La Life Goes On
It wouldn't be a Hangover without a brief mention that Amobi Okoye continues to play well, despite rumors to the contrary. His one-handed tackle of Chris Johnson for a loss was a beastly move that, prior to Sunday, I would have said on Mario could make. Okoye also blew up another Johnson run and forced Johnson into the waiting embrace of another Texans player (who, shockingly, made the tackle), and Okoye was the second person in on a tackle 9 yards downfield along the sideline in the fourth quarter.
Look, we've seen Chris Johnson decimate our defense, and it's usually because he's getting massive holes at the point of attack. Sunday, he didn't, and a big part of that is because Okoye continues to develop into a solid player. I don't know that he'll ever justify the 10th overall selection pricetag, at least in some fans' eyes, but I'll take Sunday's performance every week and be more than happy with the selection.
Return of the Vonta Leach KTFO Award
Named in honor of the Human Coke Machine, who has made a career of knocking opposing would-be tacklers the F out, we're dusting off the old trophy and giving this week's award to Andre Johnson (of course).
Five Random Player-Related Thoughts
None of which was important enough to warrant its own entry:
- Dear Jacoby Jones, For the love of all that is holy, please stop running backward on punt returns. Please. PLEASE?!? You aren't going to stop, are you?
- Based on what I've seen the past two weeks, I don't think it's too early to say that Damione Lewis is the best nose tackle on this team, and its not even particularly close.
- Eric Winston is having a terrible, terrible season. There, I said it.
- I'm not sure which is more annoying --- Matt Schaub's willingness to throw five-yard passes to the middle of the field when time is of the essence or his refusal to run for first downs when he has 10 yards of real estate in front of him.
- Kevin Bentley continues to play well at MLB. He is a sure tackler and, just as importantly, he is smart enough that he pulled up and did not lay a huge hit on a defenseless Chris Johnson early in the fourth quarter. Gotta love that.
A Tale of Two Backs
(Also, speaking of Chris Johnson, can we go ahead and get him a new nickname? Because the "2K" is so last year.)
Grocery Store Physics
I have many, many pet peeves. I realize this. However, way up on my list is grocery store employees who attempt to double-bag heavy items, but do so by tying off the handles of the inner bag and putting them down in the outer bag rather than allowing me to grab all four handles. It should be common sense that I need to be able to hold both bags for there to be any value in the double-bagging. Otherwise, all you are doing is adding a fraction of an ounce to the weight that would otherwise be in a single bag. C'mon, grocery store employees, you're better than that.
Bonus, football-related pet peeve: The phrase "six-inch line." THERE IS NO LINE THERE. Just say "about six inches from the goal line" and be done with it, Ian Eagle.
The Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer Inexplicable Decision Of The Week.
Much like the decision to name a child "Marijuana Pepsi," Cortland Finnegan's decision to pick a fight with Andre Johnson was baffling. Look, I realize that Finnegan thinks he's an elite corner (he's not), but there's a huge difference between being a good coverage corner and being able to win a fight with someone the size of Andre Johnson. I'm sure there was a moment in that fight --- probably right around the time that Finnegan was face-down on the turf --- that even Finnegan's teammates thought "hey, just what the hell did he think he was doing, anyway?"
TXT MSGS of the Week
Tim, proving that even in a compliment, he can still call Amobi names.
Lest you think I'm incapable of objectivity, Amobust was great today. Probably his best game since '07.
Evan, providing the best summary of the Leprechaun Massacre.
Call Dre "Stepdad," 'cause he whooped that ginger's ass.
grungedave, echoing my sentiments.
A win is a win ... right? I am so underwhelmed.
Replace "car" with "defense" in Jimmy's line, and I think Winston Wolf about sums up my position on the Texans.