Another week, another win for the Houston Texans. In the first game at Reliant Stadium of the season, Houston routed the San Francisco 49ers 20 – 9. With thunderstorms looming over Houston and lightning electrifying the sky, it was difficult for even the most pessimistic fan to not feel the energy emanating from the field and all around the stadium. Despite this overwhelming anxiety, perhaps it was preseason jitters, but the Texans didn’t always look much like intended victors in the first half.
With Andre Johnson back on the field, fans expected a “moment.” Unfortunately, that moment was long to come for those that only stuck around for the first 30 minutes of the game. By the time the 49ers starters left the field, the score was only 3 – 3 and sluggish at best from an offensive standpoint. With a powerhouse 49ers defense, the lack of Texans’ offensive clout may have been expected. Certainly the Texans’ defense did what they do best – stopped the QB and provided excellent coverage downfield. And even with the defense doing its job, the first half for both offensive teams was just on the upside of relatively boring. This was so even with the surprisingly fine play of veteran 49ers WR Randy Moss which added a bit of nostalgia for fans who have followed his career and welcomed him back for 2012.
The first half seemed that it would be a battle of the kickers. In fact, the only offensive touchdown for the Texans came with less than 6 minutes left in the second quarter from Lestar Jean who was playing in only his third career preseason game. Notably, Jean is in a neck and neck race with WR Keshawn Martin for the number THREE WR position. The team of Jean and Martin provided enough fireworks to get the crowd on their feet and add some excitement to an otherwise slow first half. Although by the numbers, the triumvirate of QB Matt Schaub, RB Arian Foster, and WR Andre Johnson had a good enough game (Schaub: 11 of 14 for 128 yds.; Foster: 46 yards rushing; Johnson 2 passes/49 yds.), it was the other guys that really showed out. In fact, Martin and Jean had 36 and 42 yards respectively, almost as much as veteran Johnson.
However, there was one notable name that has secured a spot in the water cooler round-up for the week, and that name is Trindon Holliday. The small-framed and speedy kick/punt returner put on a clinic in the fourth quarter when he ran for an 87 yard punt return touchdown. This feat was notable not only because of his skill at finding the sideline and running straight down it towards the endzone with lightning speed, but also because his touchdown this week was only 3 yards short of the kickoff return TD he secured in last week’s game. So it seems that when Holliday gets the ball, it is everything but Christmas for the opponents…pun intended.
Looking back on the second preseason game, it is obvious that there are things to work on and think about. While the defense looked good in general, there are still tweaks to make on the run defense, as well as a need to tone down the penalties by over-eager defensive personnel. Additionally, head coach Gary Kubiak will have a near impossible task of slating the WR3 position. Based on how great Jean and Martin look, Kubiak might as well flip a coin. Kubiak will also have a tough decision to make about Holliday. Coming off of two strong performances, there is an argument to be made that Holliday has earned his spot. However, his size limits his ability to help the team on offense, a point that Kubiak does not take lightly. It should be an excellent week of camp for the Texans as they get ready to play New Orleans on Saturday in the SuperDome.