You read that right. The only way to view this latest Texans loss is if it were a preseason game. When the team starts taking out starting offensive linemen, you know they don't care.
Of course, considering all the injuries they've suffered this season, it's not surprising, is it? I was shocked that Johnathan Joseph was inactive at the beginning of the game, or that I had to watch almost four quarters of the Jake Delhomme Show. But, I understood what they were doing, if I didn't totally agree with it.
By not showing any of the playbook, holding out multiple starters (including Arian Foster and Owen Daniels) and then putting in backups in the second half, the Texans ensured they'd not be more banged up going into the first round home game next week.
Oh, and they still almost won the game, which is slightly miraculous. Even on that final drive, when Houston only needed 35 yards to go for the tying touchdown, I still didn't trust Jake and the rest of the JV to make it down there. They hadn't driven 20 yards in the entire second half, it seemed.
So, it was good to see the Titans sweat it out on that two-point conversion and I won't blame second-year center Thomas Austin for getting the yips on the snap. But, that play was so indicative of the whole game. The Titans were playing defensive starters while the Texans had in their entire backups with the game on the line.
More than that horrible game plan against the Colts, there was no bigger sign that the Texan coaching staff mailed in the past two games than that play, were there? They just didn't care about winning for winning's sake, which would worry me a little if T.J. Yates weren't the starting QB.
Some other random thoughts on the game:
- Bryan Braman is a beast. He didn't even looked phased by that helmetless tackle, like he does it all the time in practice. Of course, given that he's teammates with Brian Cushing, there's no telling what those dudes do in practice. They might headbutt each other for fun between plays.
- Other guys I liked in limited time: Brandon Harris, Andrew Gardner, Tim Dobbins. Harris showed some toughness and good recovery speed (though it took him being beaten by Nate Washington to flash it). Dobbins and the entire defense really was flying around all game. There were some very hard hits late in this one, as the backups got a chance to shine. It was also nice that Chris Johnson was the one getting popped.
- James Casey also looked good in his first extended action in the passing game since early in the season. Not sure where he'll fall with Daniels and Joel Dreesen moving ahead of him when the first team is in there, but it was good to see him involved.
- Don't get too fired up with Delhomme's showing. He looked better with his pocket presence than Yates has, but his ball looked shaky. He didn't throw the checkdown routes especially well. He also had a few too many passes almost intercepted for my tastes. I hate to say it, but I'd rather have Yates in the playoff game than Delhomme, even after this game...
- Sadly, Ben Tate fell about 50 yards short of topping 1,000 in the season. It was a great season for Tate and topping 1,000 yards isn't some magical number that would have validated his play. No Houston team has ever had two 1,000 yard rushers in the same season, but if Tate can improve in his second full season on the field next year, he and Foster should make another run at that mark.