The Houston Texans continue to prove that they belong in the elite tier of the NFL, and they put that on display in a 23-17 win over the New York Jets, Monday night.
Houston’s defense, led by J.J. Watt, kept the Jets at bay throughout the contest, and ultimately decided the outcome on a late fourth quarter drive with the game on the line.
Watt’s impact was immense as he impacted three plays that kept New York points off the board.
The first of these, and maybe the most crucial play in the game, came at the end of the first half.
Up 14-7, the Texans found themselves with their backs against the wall with 30 seconds left before halftime. Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez dropped back to pass, looked left and fired. But Watt threw up an arm, as he’s done numerous times already in this year, and just grazed the ball. It was a bang-bang play, and yes, there was some luck and reflex involved, but Watt’s arm altered the course and rotation of the ball just enough that it knocked off target and into the arms of cornerback Brice McCain. The Houston defender then returned the ball 86 yards and set the Texans up to add some points before the break.
After the game, Jets’ coach Rex Ryan, had nothing but positive things to say about Watt and the Texasns’ defense. You know you’ve had a successful night when Ryan, stepping out of his usual prickly demeanor, gives you a nod and simply describes you as “very good.”
Arian Foster headlined things for the Houston offense, as he surpassed the 5,000 career rushing mark in this, just his fortieth professional game. He scored a touchdown and had 29 carries for 152 yards.
Matt Schaub also put together another nice game, despite throwing his second interception of the year. He was 14-of-28 passing for 209 yards and a touchdown. Schaub hasn’t been extremely flashy in any game this year, but he continues to be consistently good, and that is valuable trait in a quarterback in today’s game.
Now obviously, the Jets always bring headlines and big stories with them, wherever they go, and that was true once again in this game. There was the Tim Tebow-Sanchez conflict, the offensive confusion, the desperation attempts to create plays, basically anything that Ryan says before a game, and then the one very bright spot: special teams.
Nearly anyone who thought about what was likely going to happen in this game probably predicted the Texans rolling over New York in much the same way they have against everyone else this year, but that was not at all what happened when the game was actually played. The Jets have not played good football over the past few weeks, and they really did not play well Monday night, but they hung in the game.
If you’re a Texans fan you might be wondering if this should concern you.
I say no.
The reason being that Houston never looked to be in jeopardy of losing this game. Despite the Jets throwing every wrinkle of their playbook, including Antonio Chromartie checking in as a wide receiver on a few plays, Tebow sneaking the ball on a fake punt and running the wild cat, and a surprise onside kick, the Texans’ kept the momentum for the majority of the game.
Houston came away with points from five different drives during the game which to me, is a telling statistic. Even though they couldn’t get into the end zone on a few trips into the red zone, they never panicked and took the points that they could get. They slowly built their lead, and maintained it with their solid defensive play.
It wasn’t a flashy win by any means, but it was a win and the Texans are 5-0 and one of two undefeated teams in the league.
Houston is now challenged with the task of facing Baltimore and Green Bay in consecutive weeks going forward. These two games will tell us a lot about how good the Texans really are. Things look pretty good as of now.