A great come-from-behind victory, or a massive fourth-quarter capitulation?
Whichever way you look at it, the Texans still have problems and the Chiefs have plenty of reasons to be cheerful. That won’t undo a ridiculous pass interference call against Brandon Flowers or take a win away from Houston, but it gives both teams things to build on and repair for the upcoming weeks.
So let’s see what some of these things are …
Chiefs: Three performances of note
The campaign is really starting to take off. Flowers (+2.5) has made himself a candidate for defensive player of the year through the first six weeks of the season. This was his trickiest task to date, facing up against the physically imposing (and generally excellent) Andre Johnson (+3.8). Neither man disappointed. Five times the ball was thrown to Johnson with Flowers the primary man in coverage, with the result 46 yards for Johnson and two pass deflections for Flowers. Sometimes both men play so well that the contest doesn’t have a loser, and this was one of those times.
Last week we wrote about the terrible play of Dwayne Bowe (+4.0). This week it’s hard to see him not making the Week 6 All-PFF Team. Catching 75 percent of the balls thrown his way, forcing a missed tackle and picking up two touchdowns, Bowe delivered on the talent we know is there but all too rarely see. His first touchdown in particular was an excellent job of getting open and taking a huge hit without consequence. We often say it about players, but after a game like this, Bowe needs to build on it.
Talk about a mixed performance. Brandon Albert (+1.1) was superb with his run blocking (+4.3), grading out as the Chiefs’ top lineman, but his pass blocking was well below par. Matt Cassel (+1.1) had some real trouble when pressure got to him (just 3.9 yards per attempt) and 45.45 percent of that pressure was down to Albert. If you’re going to be a franchise left tackle, you need to pass block better than this.
Texans: Three performances of note
Come back, Duane Brown. While Albert gave up five pressures, Rashad Butler (-5.6) upstaged the Chiefs’ left tackle with his own poor pass protection. Struggling to cope primarily with Tamba Hali (+3.8), Butler gave up five quarterback pressures and a further two hits of his quarterbacks as he proved he’s not quite ready to be protecting anyone’s blindside.
Though he got a hit and two quarterback pressures, we’re not seeing the Brian Cushing (-3.4) that we saw in 2009 just yet. Struggling to get to the ball carrier, Cushing missed two tackles and was overmatched when a Chiefs blocker got on to him. He didn’t do much in coverage either (four of five allowed) and suddenly the Texans’ linebacker group has gone from a preseason strength to a potential weakness.
But it certainly wasn’t all bad, and perhaps the best thing to come out of this game was the excellent display of Matt Schaub (+6.1). Despite facing an immense amount of pressure (on 41.7 percent of plays), he was rarely rattled and made a number of key throws. On the 15 plays pressure got to him, he turned it into two touchdowns and 8.6 yards per attempt with some key plays that got Houston the victory. It would still be nice to see some consistency from Schaub this year.
Pass-catchers Tony Moeaki (+2.0) and Dexter McCluster (-0.7) were involved plenty (116 snaps combined). Moeaki was the more impressive, with his run blocking being a particular highlight. … Quiet day for Javier Arenas (+0.3), who allowed three completions at 11 yards per attempt (though he does always seem to get extra yardage on his returns). … Identical stats for Eric Berry (-0.8) in coverage, but he just looks a little lost at times when he plays deep. Much better when it comes to attacking the ball carrier.
While Kareem Jackson (-4.9) wasn’t as bad in coverage as he has been, he was next to useless in run defense. One play summing up his performance was when he was driven back 15 yards by a Chiefs skill player. … Earl Michell (-1.6) is a bit out of his depth at times, and found the Chiefs’ line a bit too savvy for him.
Do the Texans have an official No. 2 receiver? Kevin Walter saw just two more snaps than Jacoby Jones as the Texans balance out the work of Johnson’s assistant. … If you haven’t seen it, watch Derrick Johnson attempt to get at Schaub on one particular play in the fourth quarter. He ends up trying to jump a blocker and does a complete 360 in the air to land on his feet.