ReFo: Texans @ Broncos, Preseason Week 3
Though a fairly slow game overall, the end of each half provided some fireworks — the Broncos putting 14 on the board with a pair of quick strikes to end the first half, and the Texans coming up with the game-winning score with under a minute left in the game.
Unsurprisingly, Peyton Manning was behind the excitement on the Denver side; his two perfectly thrown deep balls for TDs redeemed an earlier, ugly interception (Q2, 13:05). His counterpart, Ryan Fitzpatrick, did not have such a redeeming moment in a first half in which he was often off target.
Let’s take a look at some standout performances from this one, starters and backups alike, with each group seeing the field for a half.
Houston Texans – Performances of Note
Tom Savage, QB, +1.8
Breakdown: Inserted into the game with 4:25 remaining and his team down eight, Savage did what few expect of a fourth-round rookie; he led the team on a nine-play game-winning drive, completing 5-of-6 passes plus a two-point conversion in the process. Admittedly, none of the throws were terribly difficult, such as the touchdown when Ryan Griffin broke free on a go-route, but he made the plays nonetheless.
Signature Stat: On that game-winning drive, Savage was 2-2 for 22 yards when under pressure.
D.J. Swearinger, DB, -0.2
Breakdown: A lot of talk coming into the game seemed to involve D.J. Swearinger, who apparently did quite a bit of talking of his own during the joint practices during the week. As for his play on the field, it was a mixed bag for Swearinger. The second-year safety was twice beaten in coverage against Julius Thomas and twice lost battles against Louis Vasquez, once in the run game and once on a screen pass. However, he came back from those plays with a pass defense and a forced holding call in the run game.
Signature Play: The big hit by Swearinger on Wes Welker on a route over the middle with 12 seconds remaining in the half that even incited a taunting penalty from Peyton Manning. The play personified Swearinger, a ferocious, if reckless, defender. Some will likely see the play as dirty, but it appeared Welker ducked into Swearinger’s shoulder, giving the Texan little leeway in the way of avoiding his head.
J.J. Watt, DE, -1.4
Breakdown: J.J. Watt in the red? Based on track record, he likely would have pulled himself out had he played more than nine snaps, but the Texans had a short leash with their star, as they pulled Watt midway through the opening drive. The Broncos double-teamed him on most of those nine and had success, as he gave up quite a bit of ground in the run game, and on a few occasions was taken to the ground, like seen at 15:00 and 13:54 of the first.
Signature Play: Despite the negative grade, we saw a glimpse of the usual Watt at 11:49 of the first, when he knifed into the backfield for a tackle-for-loss, though he was left unblocked on the play.
Denver Broncos – Performances of Note
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, +2.6
Breakdown: On the receiving end of two first half TDs from Peyton Manning, was none other than free-agent addition Sanders, who added three receptions to go along with the two big plays of 67 and 29 yards. He also showed off some blocking skills on a screen pass. It’s scary to think of what he brings to an already loaded Denver receiving corps.
Signature Play: Check out the play with nine seconds remaining in the first half, as Sanders outran A.J. Bouye and brought in the TD with a diving effort.
Bradley Roby, CB +2.5
Breakdown: The rookie Roby has had his share of rough/rookie moments this preseason, but no such moments in Denver. Targeted six times, Roby allowed just two catches, matching that number with a pair of pass break-ups, though the second of which could’ve been an interception.
Signature Play: At 9:37 of the second quarter, Roby showed off some impressive closing speed (and strength), stopping Andre Johnson short of the sticks on a 3rd-down slant.
Marvin Austin, DT +1.7
Breakdown: Another new addition in Denver, Marvin Austin displayed his ability in all three phases of defense. He first shed a block for a tackle in the run game (Q3, 14:28), then showed off some surprising agility dropping back into coverage and breaking up a pass (Q3, 3:53), and added a QB pressure to round out his performance, beating Tyson Clabo around the edge (Q3, 0:54).
Signature Stat: After playing 23 snaps against the Texans, Austin is up to 80 on the preseason, nearly doubling his total snap count last season with the Giants (43).
PFF Game Ball
This one goes to the rookie Bradley Roby, who made things difficult for Fitzpatrick, Andre Johnson and the Houston offense. If he can get to this level of play on a consistent basis, expect a lot more game balls in his future.
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