- Created on Monday, 16 January 2012 00:57
- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:51
- Written by Travis Pulver
There are two ways that fans can look at the season ending loss the Houston Texans suffered in Baltimore on Sunday: with optimism looking towards another playoff run next season or with pessimism since this one ended because of mistakes. Either way there is one thing that is for certain—the final score: Houston 13, Baltimore 20.
As cliché as it sounds, the team does have a lot to look forward to next season (as long as they don’t lose anyone major to free agency). The defense has become a force to be reckoned with under the tutelage of Wade Phillips. When the news broke that he was not going to interview for the Tampa Bay head coaching job there was some understandable relief among the players.
“Hey, we’re selfish, and we’re excited about him backing out of the interview,” inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. “It would have been tough to lose him after one season, but now we don’t have to worry about that.”
The difference that Phillips has made is abundantly clear. In 2010 there were only three teams that gave up more points per game and only two that gave up more offensive yardage. This season there was only one team that allowed fewer points and only one that allowed fewer yards.
Opposing offensive coordinators that watched the game are not looking forward to facing J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed after they have a full off-season of training and coaching under the Texans’ staff. The two rookies combined for five sacks against the Ravens Sunday.
The defense as a whole did an excellent job against Baltimore holding them to 227 total yards. Ray Rice was pretty much shut down with just 60 yards on 21 carries. Seven times the Texans defense forced the Ravens to go three plays and out, with five of them coming in the second half.
As good as the statistics look for the Houston defense there is one that doesn’t—the final score.
“This hurts because we put everything we had into this game, but we are very proud of our season and we’re excited about our off-season,” rookie defensive end J.J. Watt said.
Turnovers are considered game-changers for a reason, because that is essentially what they do. Baltimore was able to take advantage of three of the four turnovers the Texans had, turning them into 17 points. The fourth, T.J. Yates’s third interception on the day, sealed the win for the Ravens.
“If we didn’t get any of those turnovers it would probably be a different game,” Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said.
As can be expected with any loss, there will be questions that will come up like what would have happened had the team had Matt Schaub playing rather than a rookie fifth round draft pick. Yates played well, especially considering his lack of experience, but would Schaub have tried to make that ill-advised throw that led to the final interception of the day?
What happened to Arian Foster in the end? Running the ball may not have been the most advisable option, but when the game is on the line you put the ball in the hands of the man who got you where you are. Foster was not targeted on either of the last two drives.
Questions about coaching are likely to arise as well. Phillips said he would not interview prior to the team’s playoff game, but now that the season is over what will he do—or more importantly, what is over Bob McNair going to do?
Gary Kubiak’s future will have to be addressed as well. Last season he was given only a one-year extension. Did he do enough to warrant a long-term deal? He did lead the team to its first division championship and first playoff win while overcoming numerous serious injuries to major players.
Only time will tell…