AFC South: 2012 Week 6 coverage

Rapid Reaction: Packers 42, Texans 24

October, 14, 2012

HOUSTON -- Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 42-24 blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers at Reliant Stadium on Sunday night:

What it means: The Texans can be susceptible to a talented and desperate team with a top-flight quarterback. Houston didn’t adjust well in its first game without inside linebacker Brian Cushing, lost for the season to a torn ACL suffered Monday night against the Jets. Star cornerback Johnathan Joseph didn’t look like himself for the second week in a row. The Texans are still three wins up on Indianapolis and Tennessee in the AFC South.

What I didn’t like: The defensive effort was atrocious. Yes, Rodgers was back to the form that won him MVP last season. But he threw for 338 yards and six touchdowns, three to Jordy Nelson, two to James Jones and one to Tom Crabtree. (Graham Harrell replaced Rodgers late in the fourth quarter.) Houston rushed OK in spurts, but generally did little to throw Rodgers off his game. Texans fans got out of Reliant Stadium in a hurry, leaving Packers fans to send a “Go Pack, Go” chant around the venue.

What I liked: The Texans managed to get Andre Johnson back in the flow with eight catches for 75 yards. He has been under-utilized lately, so it was nice to see him back. In the fourth quarter, Johnson topped 10,000 career receiving yards. He did it in his 128th game, the sixth-fastest player to the mark in NFL history.

Injury concerns: Right guard Antoine Caldwell, who yields time some to rookie Ben Jones as part of a rotation, was knocked out of the game with a concussion.

Special teams: Penalties were an issue for the Texans on special teams. They did get a late blocked punt by Bryan Braman, which DeVier Posey recovered for a touchdown.

What’s next: The Texans host another giant game as the Baltimore Ravens come to town. The Texans were knocked out of last season’s playoffs a game short of the AFC title game by the Ravens in Baltimore and the two figure to be prime candidates for home field advantage through the playoffs.

Wrap-up: Jets 35, Colts 9

October, 14, 2012

Thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 35-9 loss to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: The Colts have hardly arrived yet, and while they are capable of a wondrous upset of Green Bay one week, they can get stomped by the mediocre Jets the next. Indianapolis is now 2-3.

What I didn’t like: Indianapolis couldn’t stop the run, allowing the Jets 252 rushing yards on 44 carries for a 5.7-yard average. Shonn Greene, rated by some as the worst starting running back in the NFL, rushed for 161 yards on 32 carries and scored three touchdowns. The Colts were down several players on the defensive front -- Cory Redding (right knee) left early and didn’t return, and they started off without tackles Fili Moala and Martin Tevaseu as well as outside linebacker Robert Mathis. Meanwhile, the Colts couldn’t move the ball on the ground at all. Rookie Vick Ballard got his first start with Donald Brown recovering from knee surgery, and Ballard didn’t take anything longer than 5 yards all day long. Nor did anyone else for the Colts, who managed 17 carries for 41 yards and didn’t run for a single first down.

What I didn’t like, part II: The offensive line didn’t only fail to run-block, but too often it allowed rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to face pressure. He was sacked four times and was not as accurate as he is typically, missing people both from the pocket and on the move.

What I didn’t like, part III: You can’t be ready for everything, but the Jets were due to have Tim Tebow throw a pass as the personal punt protector. And he did, hitting fullback Nick Bellore with a 23-yarder. It converted a fourth-and-11 and spurred a touchdown drive that put New York ahead 21-3.

What I liked: Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman made 14 tackles, and outside linebacker Jerry Hughes, playing for the injured Robert Mathis, showed additional signs of life with eight tackles, a sack and three quarterback hits. Rookie tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener look to be growing more comfortable.

What’s next: The Colts host the Cleveland Browns, who just won their first game of the season over the Cincinnati Bengals. Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson is likely to provide as much as or more of a challenge as the Jets' running back did today.

Rapid Reaction: Titans 26, Steelers 23

October, 11, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts on the Titans' last-second 26-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at LP Field:

What it means: The Titans showed they can compete with a quality team, surrendering a lead and not giving up but fighting back to tie and win. Jared Cook keyed the final drive with a 25-yard catch-and-run from Matt Hasselbeck that positioned Rob Bironas' 40-yard field goal as time expired. The upset got the Titans to 2-4.

What I liked: The Titans were competitive, showing some resolve and fight from start to finish. Chris Johnson ran assertively behind good blocking with 19 carries for 91 yards. Special teams produced with Tim Shaw knifing through the line to block a Drew Butler punt at the end of the first quarter, setting the Titans up on the Steelers’ 1-yard line. Jamie Harper took it in for Tennessee’s first rushing touchdown of the season. After watching a lead disappear, the Titans fought back to get even with 4:19 left in the fourth. Pittsburgh's last chance came up short when Shaun Suisham didn't have the leg for a 54-yarder with 49 seconds left. That was enough time for the Titans.

What I didn’t like: The Steelers' first three possessions of the second half lasted 31 plays and 14:17 and produced 13 points, vaulting Pittsburgh to a 23-16 lead. Even the Steelers' third running back, Baron Batch, was productive during that stretch.

Nice recovery: Kenny Britt had the tying touchdown pass in his arms late in the fourth, only to lose it as he was tackled high by Ike Taylor, and lost his helmet. Taylor lost Britt on the next play for the same pass, and Britt made a big bobble but finally snatched it for the score that made it 23-23.

One change of note: While Mike Munchak talked of staying the course, the Titans did decide on one change for this game. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer moved from the sideline to the coaching box.

What’s next: The Titans get the mini-bye and return to action Oct. 21 in Buffalo against the Bills. Jake Locker could return at quarterback after a two-game layoff with an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder.