By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Folks, what are we going to do about the Houston Texans? Every year, no matter who’s at quarterback, no matter the opponent, no matter the locale, the Houston Texans just seem to have a knack for delivering a postseason clunker. Every year.
The 2018 season has proven to be no exception.
The Texans were not long ago on track to earn themselves a first-round playoff bye for the first time in franchise history. Not only did these Texans — behind Deshaun Watson, a real, live, non-joke of an NFL quarterback — have a chance to make it to the divisional round for just the fourth time ever, but they appeared to be a legitimate threat to actually make a conference championship for the first time ever.
Then, of course, the game started.
The Texans allowed the Colts to march 75 yards down the field on nine plays in the opening drive of the game. That was a drive aided by J.J. Watt jumping offside on a third-and-7; the Colts didn’t convert on that snap but did move the chains on the ensuing third-and-2.
The Texans got then got the ball for the first time. They gained four yards on third-and-5. They punted.
On the ensuing Colts drive, it was Whitney Mercilus this time jumping early, drawing a five-yard neutral zone infraction penalty on a third-and-5 near midfield. The Colts converted the third-and-inches, and then continued to drive down the field: nine plays, 74 yards, 5:25. Game over.
The Texans never really showed any kind of fight thereafter. Their next five drives ended with four punts and a turnover on downs. They did get on the scoreboard, only thanks to some generosity from Alberto Riveron and the NFL’s replay review office. The game was a dud, with a capital D-U-D.
The Texans are now 3-5 all time in the playoffs. Two of those wins came against the Marvin Lewis/Andy Dalton-led Cincinnati Bengals, so they barely count. The other came against Connor Cook and the Raiders, so that one definitely doesn’t count.
In five years at the helm, Bill O’Brien is now barely better than .500 in the regular season at 42-38, and he’s 1-3 in playoff games. (The lone win came when they held Cook to 18-of-45 passing in Cook’s only career NFL start. They were doubled up and then some in New England the following weekend, 34-16.)
Folks, sooner or later we’re going to have to address the problem that is the Houston Texans. Every year, to varying degrees, we’re forced to take them seriously at various points throughout a season. Inevitably, though, the playoffs rolls around, and it becomes evident that any and all time spent devoted to such thinking is entirely a waste of time.
Maybe next year will be different.
With that being settled, let’s jump around to a few leftover thoughts from wild card weekend in the NFL.
–The biggest shock of the weekend? I, for one, cannot believe that this fellow suffered a soft tissue injury:
There’s simply no way that Pete Carroll and Co. could have foreseen the 40-year-old Sebastian Janikowski — all 260 pounds of him — tweaking a muscle at some point this season. He’s a football coach, not a soothsayer, you know.
Kidding aside, NFL kickers are ridiculous athletes. They can basically break their own noses by kicking themselves in the face with their own thighs. It’s wild. They’re incredibly flexible and wildly dexterous. They’re like human cats, maybe. OK, that one didn’t work, but you get the idea: the dudes are kind of made of elastic.
So the fact that Janikowski — who’s 40 years old, was drafted in 2000, and looks as though he can’t tie his own shoes without the assistance of a stepstool — managed to successfully kick 19 of his 22 field goals under 50 yards this year is nothing short of incredible. That right there is a FEAT.
But, honestly, shame on the Seahawks for not having a backup plan. Kicking is hard, but it’s not impossible. Every team needs to have a Wes Welker at the ready in case the kicker goes down. That’s just Football 101.
–Likewise, shame on Michael Dickson for whatever that onside kick attempt was. I understand he’s a punter, not a kicker. But based on that 33-yard dropkick, you’d never know that Dickson is a man who makes his money by kicking footballs.
Literally any intoxicated fan in the stands could have given Seattle a better chance of recovery. All that was required was booting a ball 10 yards and hoping for the best. A one-legged Janikowski could have done better than that from a standstill, using his non-kicking leg. What an abomination.
–While we’re discussing kickers, here’s a photo of Adam Vinatieri.
He’s your dad now, by the way. That’s just how things work. Sorry to your old dad but rules are rules.
–This is good:
If Steve Smith were mad at me, I’d be so scared. That’s what separates me from people like Jermaine Wiggins. Among other things.
–Maybe it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but WHAT IN THE WORLD was this spot given to Darren Sproles on Sunday? Sproles MAYBE got the line to gain at the 17-yard line:
But he was given this spot — by not one but TWO officials:
They gave him a full extra yard. What in the wide world of sports?
Nick Foles ended up throwing an interception, giving possession to the Bears at their own 35. So maybe it was no harm, no foul. But that was a wild spot.
–I don’t understand why you people wanted this to be a catch:
Like, so, OK. Why did “completing the catch” become a curse word among NFL fans? In what world would you want that to be a catch? Where I come from (AMERICA!), you have to actually CATCH the ball in order for it to be ruled a CATCH. If this man had CAUGHT the football then he wouldn’t have lost the football. And if he had CAUGHT the football and then legitimately FUMBLED the football, then the gaggle of white jerseys would have eagerly pounced on the loose football for an easy recovery. But those professional football players and the professional football official didn’t act as if a ball had been fumbled because in their professional view, the man never caught the football.
I don’t know. I don’t get it. The rule didn’t need to be changed. Complete the catch, you know?
–At the same time, why have Terry McAulay in the booth if he doesn’t know the rules? Claiming the rule of a non-recovered fumble comes from the “bowels” of the rulebook doesn’t absolve a longtime NFL referee from not knowing them. Might have been helpful to the American viewing public to have been given a heads up on what to expect from the replay review. Alas, we were all clueless and led astray.
If the rules experts can’t provide the rules in real time, then ahh … what are we doing?
–The Melvin Gordon non-fumble/fumble was also a bit perplexing. Everyone focused on the ground causing Gordon to fumble. Yeah. But. He also fumbled the ball while falling to the ground, only to sorta/kinda recover the thing before hitting the ground and losing the ball. Are we SURE that Gordon fully regained possession before hitting the ground? We’re sure of that? Because, off the top of my head, I can think of Austin Seferian-Jenkins at the pylon and Dion Lewis getting clobbered by Myles Jack as two people who probably feel as though they, too, regained possession before ultimately losing control.
Here’s what actually did happen: Gordon lost control after getting tripped up by Eric Weddle. While falling, he lost possession of the football. He didn’t secure the football again until it hit the ground; that’s when he wrapped his hands around the ball. That’s also when it bounced out of his grasp.
Probably should have been a fumble, with a 100-plus-yard return for a touchdown. Pretty big moment. Alas. Down by contact. Whatever. Who cares?
I understand that “surviving the ground” has been axed from the rulebook. But did Gordon really regain possession after losing the ball? I think the Chargers really just got bailed out by the ruling on the field being a touchdown. Had that been ruled a fumble in real time, we would’ve been looking at a 12-10 football game instead of a 20-3 Chargers lead.
–All of that being said … the Chargers should have already been in the end zone, thanks to Derek Watt’s rumble roll. So, again, whatever.
–Lamar Jackson may end up being the greatest quarterback in NFL history. I don’t know. But I do know that the young fella throws a football like somebody who’s never had a football coach to teach him how to throw a football.
–After watching the Chargers turn a 23-3 blowout win into a six-point nail-biter makes me think the Patriots might just want to lay in the weeds until the fourth quarter. Clearly, the Chargers are liable to completely fall asleep late in a game they believe they’ve won.
How else could this be explained?
Lamar Jackson, first 48 minutes of the game: 3-for-10, 25 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
Lamar Jackson, final 12 minutes of the game: 11-for-19 (two spikes), 169 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
I feeeeeel like Tom Brady is going to present a greater challenge for the L.A. defense. They should all be careful to not take a late-game nap in Foxboro.
–This was how the Chargers defense hit Lamar Jackson on the very first play from scrimmage:
Didn’t look good! Not the “Welcome to the NFL playoffs” moment the Ravens likely hoped their rookie quarterback to encounter. That’s also why a franchise probably should be hesitant to put all of its eggs in the basket of a running quarterback.
–The stat of the weekend comes from the Seahawks and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
When passing the ball, the Seahawks averaged 8.1 yards per play.
When rushing the ball, the Seahawks averaged 3.0 yards per play.
The Seahawks passed the ball 27 times. The Seahawks rushed the ball 24 times.
This is bad coaching.
The season is now over for the Seattle Seahawks.
By throwing when they should have been running, and now by running when they should have been throwing, Pete Carroll has impressively turned a budding dynasty into a team that is now 2-3 in its last five playoff games. (It would be 1-3, if not for Blair Walsh’s Minneapolis mishap, too.)
–Not sure how to properly address or handle the Nick Foles Magic situation. Just not sure. Even when he throws godawful end zone picks, even when Michael Bennett commits back-breaking personal fouls after third-down stops, even when Eagles defensive backs drop not one but TWO interceptions, and even when the Philly defense falls apart with the game on the line, the Eagles still win.
There’s no use in even trying to understand it. Just accept the fact that Nick Foles, the 47th President of the United States, exists in a separate realm from the rest of us. He cannot lose. There’s no use believing he might do anything but win.
–Hey, here’s something I’d like to say: You can’t possibly watch this video and then pretend like you don’t understand what Josh McDaniels did last year:
–You know, I follow this league pretty closely, and I feel comfortable sharing this conclusion from the 2018 season: Everything, for every team, is week-to-week. Everything. It’s virtually impossible to feel great about any one team for any one reason for more than a week at a time. Four teams won this weekend, and they all feel great about what they did. Yet they’re all underdogs next week, and they are underdogs by an average of 6.5 points per game. Be careful to not let the events of wild card weekend influence your thinking too strongly for the divisional round. Most of it will be rendered meaningless before halftime.
It simply does not get more “SPORTS!” than that, folks. See you next weekend.