Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Dunta's Inferno

Who would of thought rookie corner back Dunta Robinson was going to be this good. He definitely contributed to Houston's defense, which hasn't allowed a touchdown for seven straight quarters.

The Texans play their best football when the defense takes it chances. So why doesn't Defensive coordinator Fangio blitz more?

Robinson has been a big part of the blitz package. It helps that he is the fastest player on defense. His angles are not that shabby either. Robinson was also the only player to sack Colts QB Peyton Manning twice in the same game this season. Of course until Steve Foley sacked Manning three time the following week.

As a rookie Dunta is second on the Texans in tackles with 81 tackles. Dunta also has 3 sacks, yet always a constant pressure. Along side his sacks Dunta all so has 6 interception and 3 forced fumbles.

This kid is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Texans march at Soldier Field

By Katie Lewis,
The Texans received a not-so-warm welcome today at Soldier Field with temperatures swirling around 12 degrees and an even lower wind chill factor of minus-11. It marked the coldest game the Texans have ever played. The temperature even set a mark in the Bears history books as the third-lowest temperature ever when Chicago has played host.

In front of 62,122 bundled up Bears fans, the Texans defensive unit had a banner day, preventing the Bears from scoring an offensive touchdown. It marked the third time in Texans history the defense held the opposing team out of the end zone. Houston's defense allowed the lowest point total scored in club annals in the 24-5 win.

"Any time you come to Chicago and play in the month of December you know it's going to be a tough, physical game," head coach Dom Capers said. "I really like the attitude, effort, determination of our football team. We thought it may be a hard-fought, close, low-scoring game.

"I thought our defense did a tremendous job of hanging in there and continuing to go out and make plays at times that we struggled on the offensive side of things."

The defense also set records for fewest total yards allowed (203), fewest rushing yards (54) and tied with fewest first downs give up (11).

The cold and windy conditions made for a slow and disjointed start. But the Texans got warmed up when Corey Bradford and Domanick Davis delivered with touchdowns to give the team an edge. Charlie Anderson's 60-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter put things out of reach for Chicago and sealed Houston's 24-5 victory.

Carr finished the day completing 13 of 28 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown. Gaffney recorded his first NFL 100-yard receiveing day after catching four balls for 109 yards.

Cornerback Dunta Robinson paced the defense with seven tackles, one sack, one interception and one forced fumble.

"We just gave it a total team effort," Robinson said. "When the offense wasn't moving the ball to well we went in there and made plays on defense and put them in position to score points and that's what they did."

Frigid temperatures didn't seem to slow Chicago running back Thomas Jones who carried eight times for 32 yards on Chicago's opening drive. But on 3rd and 3 from the Houston 20, quarterback Chad Hutchinson's exchange with Jones was bobbled and the ball fell loose. Texans linebacker Jason Babin scooped up the ball and added another 15 yards to give Houston's offense a shot at scoring. It was Babin's first career fumble recovery.

Davis led the Texans first drive, picking up nine yards on two carries. He hurdled a group of Bears defenders and rambled for another 23 yards. But three plays later, Davis' four-yard run came up a yard short of moving the chains and Kris Brown was called in to kick a 42-yard field goal.

Brown's kick sailed wide right and the score remained at zero as the Bears took over at their own 33. But Chicago's offensive unit was only able to generate seven yards on the drive sending in the punt unit.

The Texans offense didn't look much different. After three tries at a first down, Chad Stanley was called in to punt. The cold conditions didn't work in Stanley's favor though. The stiff ball only sailed 23 yards putting the Bears in good position at their own 48.

Chicago wasn't able to captitalize on the good drive start. Paul Edinger came in to kick a 53-yard field goal but he faked the kick and looked for defensive end Israel Idonije to pick up a first down. Edinger's pass was tipped by Texans linebacker Kailee Wong and cornerback Aaron Glenn nabbed the ball, picking off his 35th career interception.

But Houston was forced to punt on 3rd and 14 and Chicago took another crack at crossing the goal line.

Hutchinson found Desmond Clark for a 14-yard gain to get the ball rolling. On the next play, Babin and safety Glenn Earl blew up Bears running back Bernard Berrian for a 10-yard loss after he took the ball from Thomas on a reverse. A false start penalty on 4th and 1 pushed the Bears back and Edinger was called in to attempt another field goal. But his 39-yard attempt dropped in front of the crossbar to keep the score at zero.

The Texans offense was able to get anything started on the ensuing drive. Running back Jonathan Wells and Carr ran for three yards each. On 3rd and 4 Jabar Gaffney stretched up and reeled in an 11-yarder from Carr to move the chains. But three plays later, Houston wasn't able to convert on 3rd and 13 and Stanley punted for the third time.

Houston's defense held the Bears from scoring and the Texans offense began their two-minute drill as the second quarter wound down. Carr hit receiver Andre Johnson on 3rd and 10 with a 26-yard strike and on the next shot sailed a beauty right over Bradford's shoulder for a 37-yard touchdown. Bradford's 20th career score gave Houston a 7-0 lead with 34 seconds remaining in the first half.

Hutchinson looked for Clark on the first snap of the Bears ensuing drive, but his pass was picked off by Robinson at the Houston 25. Robinson returned the theft 40 yards to the Chicago 35 with nine seconds remaining. The Texans had time to take two shots at the end zone but weren't able to get any more points as the half came to a close.

The Bears and Texans punted three times to start off the third quarter. Carr found Gaffney for a 12-yard connection with just under five minutes remaining in the quarter, but the Texans didn't advance any further. Carr threw incomplete to tight end Mark Bruener and was penalized four yards for delay of game on the next snap, placing the ball at the Houston 5.

The Bears defense brought pressure on 2nd and 19 and Carr was forced to throw out of bounds from the end zone. The play was ruled intentional grounding to give the Bears a safety and two points. Chicago now trailed 7-2.

The Texans kicked off, putting the ball back into Chicago's possession but the Bears punted shortly after. Houston took over and was pinned deep in its own territory as the Bears threatened Carr in the end zone again. Chicago's defense held strong and Stanley punted short, placing the Bears offense at the Houston 33.

Four plays later the Bears put Edinger in field goal range where he split the uprights from 43 yards out to put the score at 7-5 still in favor of the Texans.

But Houston answered swiftly. On 3rd and 7 Carr delivered a laser to Gaffney from the Houston 24. Gaffney followed with a 69-yard gain to surpass the 100-yard mark for the day. From the Chicago 7, Davis lost one yard on the next run but gained it back when Carr hit him on a five-yarder to the Bears 3. The Texans weren't able to cross the goal line but Brown hit his 20-yard field goal to seal the 76-yard scoring drive while extending Houston's lead 10-5.

The Bears took over but Hutchinson's efforts weren't accurate. He missed Jones on the first pass of the drive and his second to Berrian also fell incomplete. Texans defensive end Robaire Smith brought heat on the next snap, pushing Hutchinson back 13 yards on the sack. A five-yard face mask penalty on Smith was called on the play, putting Chicago right back at the line of scrimmage. But the Bears weren't able to push forward any further and Brad Maynard punted.

The Texans were then able to burn 5:38 off of the game clock en route to a 13-play, 56-yard scoring drive. Carr got the ball rolling when he found Gaffney for a seven-yard strike. Davis chipped in runs of five and three yards on the drive before rambling 11 yards into the end zone to extend Houston's lead 17-5.

The Bears took over with under five minutes remaining. Chicago's offense advanced 10 yards to the Houston 48 before Robinson caused his second disruption of the day. Robinson beat his guy around the edge and took Hutchinson down for a seven-yard sack and forced fumble. Texans linebacker Charlie Anderson scooped up the ball and sprinted 60 yards into the end zone for his first career fumble recovery and touchdown to extend the scoring gap 24-5 in favor of Houston.

Houston's defense held the Bears from scoring on their final effort and the Texans offense ran the clock down to seal the team's sixth win of the season.

"We came in here at the half with a lead and we just wanted to go out and finish the game," Gaffney said. "Everybody was saying that we couldn't finish a game and put two halves together and we went out there and did that today."

Monday, December 13, 2004

Colts Hang on to Beat Texans

By Carter Toole,
Today's game against the Colts at Reliant Stadium couldn't have started any worse for the Texans.

Houston's first two offensive possessions resulted in an interception and a three-and-out. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning took swift advantage, throwing two touchdowns to stake Indianapolis to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The Colts looked well on their way to another lopsided win and Manning looked poised to break the league's single-season record for touchdown passes.

But the Texans (and their crowd) didn't fold. Houston's defense stiffened and the offense slowly got its sea legs. The Texans ran the ball effectively and kept Indianapolis kicking field goals instead of extra points.

In the end, however, that early deficit was too much to overcome. The Colts defeated Houston 23-14 Sunday before a sun-splashed crowd of 70,762. Indianpolis clinches its second consecutive division title, improving to 10-3 with its sixth consecutive win. The Texans dropped to 5-8 and have lost five of their last six games.

Running back Domanick Davis rushed for 128 yards and one touchdown, helping Houston churn out 148 yards on the ground. But the Texans couldn't force a turnover and committed two of their own. Houston also allowed quarterback David Carr to be sacked five times and committed five false starts.

"We were our own worst enemy," Carr said.

Indeed. After struggling at the outset, the Texans clawed back with a chance to take the lead, only to watch the Colts make the plays that they could not.

"You just can't have plays against a team like Indianapolis," head coach Dom Capers said. "Every game you're only going to get so many opportunities and they converted more today than we did."

Despite not finding the end zone after the first quarter, the Colts still gained 382 total yards and ended three second-half drives with field goals, consuming 16:39 of clock time in the second stanza. The Texans, while controlling the tempo with Davis, still managed just 273 total yards and didn't have an offensive play of more than 20 yards.

The result was a frustrated locker room.

"It’s frustrating," center Steve McKinney said. "You have a team like that on the ropes with a chance to beat them and you don’t quite get it done. It happens to good teams. We hurt ourselves early in the first quarter and put them in a position to score points. We just weren’t able to overcome that."

The Texans opened with the ball and did exactly what you can't do against the Colts' high-powered offense -- turn it over. Colts cornerback Jason David picked off Carr on Houston's third snap, giving Indianapolis the ball at the Texans 37.

From there, the Colts fed running back Edgerrin James, who moved the ball to the three-yard line on three carries and a 12-yard reception. Manning then hit wide receiver Marvin Harrison for a three-yard touchdown, giving him 45 touchdown passes on the season. Indianapolis led 7-0.

Houston's second possession didn't fare much better. A false start on guard Zach Wiegert pushed the ball back five yards. After Davis scampered for eight yards, Carr was sacked by Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, losing 10 yards. The Texans punted.

Manning went back to work, hitting tight end Marcus Pollard for 18 yards to move the ball into Texans territory. Six plays later, Manning fired a 12-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Reggie Wayne. The Colts had a two-touchdown lead.

Davis got untracked a bit on the next possession, rushing for 21 yards on two carries to get the ball past midfield. But another false start and another sack pushed the Texans into a 3rd and 26 that they couldn't convert.

Houston's defense responded at the outset of the second quarter. Cornerback Dunta Robinson sacked Manning for 10 yards to push the ball back to the Colts 10, eventually forcing a three-and-out. The Texans got the ball in terrific field position at the Colts 42.

Carr hit Davis for 16 yards before three Davis runs moved the ball to the Colts 10. On 3rd and goal from the three-yard line, Carr found running back Jonathan Wells out of the backfield for a touchdown that cut the Colts' lead to 14-7.

Manning marched the Colts down to the Texans 27 before Robinson again made his presence felt. He blitzed from the right side and nailed Manning, forcing a fumble...or perhaps an incompletion. Referee Ed Hochuli ruled Manning's throwing arm was going forward. Capers challenged and was ruled correct -- but since the whistle blew there was no actual fumble recovery.

Nevertheless, the play pushed the Colts back six yards and Manning threw incomplete on the next play. Indianapolis was forced to punt and the Texans got the ball at their own 20 with 3:08 left in the half.

"Obviously we didn’t play well enough to win the game, but Peyton didn’t do what they what they thought he was going to do against us," Robinson said. "We just played hard and physical."

The Texans kept feeding Davis and it worked. Two runs netted 25 yards before Carr found Davis on a screen pass for 16 yards to the Colts 44. But on 3rd and 11 from the Colts 32, Carr fumbled the shotgun snap from McKinney. Colts defensive end Raheem Brock recovered at the 39-yard line with 37 seconds left.

Indianapolis got the ball to start the second half. After finding Pollard for a first down to the Colts 47, Manning lofted a 34-yard pass to wide receiver Brandon Stokley. But the Texans held, forcing a 30-yard field goal by Mike Vanderjagt that pushed the Colts' lead to 17-7.

But the Texans went right back to work. Davis gained a first down to push him ove the 100-yard rushing mark before Carr found wide receiver Corey Bradford for 19 yards to the Colts 43. Carr then found Bradford again for eight yards to convert a 3rd and 5.

Carr's 12-yard completion to tight end Billy Miller got the Texans into the red zone and Davis took it from there, gliding 12 yards to the end zone to cut the lead to 17-14. It was Davis' 10th touchdown of the season, his eighth in the past six games.

It was the defense's turn to respond and it did, allowing one first down before stopping the Colts at the Texans 44. Houston took over at its own 11.

On 3rd and 5 from the 16-yard line, Carr hit wide receiver Andre Johnson on a crossing route for 12 yards to give the Texans some breathing room. Then came a 3rd and 10, which Carr promptly converted with a 13-yard pass to Johnson. But Freeney killed another drive with a nine-yard sack of Carr. The Texans punted and Indianapolis took over at its own 11.

Manning then began to peck away. First it was a 15-yarder to Stokley to convert a third down. Then Manning lofted a 26-yarder to Wayne, putting the ball at the Texans 41. On 3rd and 1 from the Texans 24, James was stopped by linebacker Jason Babin. The Colts settled for a 43-yard field goal by Vanderjagt and a six-point lead.

Houston had a legitimate shot to make things interesting with a 3 and 2 from its own 44. But Carr was sacked by Colts defensive end Robert Mathis for a four-yard loss. Indianapolis got the ball back and Manning converted a crucial 3rd and 10 with a 14-yard pass to Wayne. The Colts eventually reached Vanderjagt's range and his 44-yard field goal with 1:56 left sealed the win.