AFC South: 2013 Week 16 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Houston Texans

December, 22, 2013

HOUSTON -- Thoughts from the Houston Texans' 37-13 loss to the Denver Broncos at Reliant Stadium:

What it means: Nothing, really. A win Sunday would have given the Texans something to feel happy about for a little bit and provided a source of pride at stalling an explosive offense. They've come to terms with the fact that they aren't accomplishing their bigger goals this season; now it's just a matter of making it through one more game before the recovery can begin.

Stock watch: Texans quarterback Matt Schaub entered Sunday's game with a chance at a bit of redemption. He missed the Week 7 game in Kansas City thanks to a foot and ankle injury. While he was out, his backup's performance gave the Texans a spark, former head coach Gary Kubiak thought, which was enough to earn Case Keenum the new role as the Texans' starter. This week Keenum was sidelined as he recovered from a thumb injury that included ligament damage. In what might have been Schaub's final game at Reliant Stadium, he offered a familiar performance. Some good moments, some shaky ones and two interceptions -- one of which opened the door for Peyton Manning's second of four touchdowns in the game.

Defense flips script: For the first three quarters, the Texans' defense was playing what might be its best game of the season. It gave up a ton of yards -- including 355 in the first half -- but only one touchdown out of all of it. Denver went into halftime with a tenuous 16-6 lead that became a 16-13 lead in the third quarter. The Broncos went three-and-out three times and punted four times in the third quarter.

Show of respect: Several Texans congratulated Manning for breaking the single-season touchdown record with 51, starting with punter Shane Lechler, then defensive end J.J. Watt. Andre Johnson exchanged a few words with Manning, as did Texans owner Bob McNair. Manning threw four touchdowns and had 400 yards.

What's next: A trip to Nashville to play the Tennessee Titans, then the merciful end to what has been a nightmarish season for the Texans.

Rapid Reaction: Indianapolis Colts

December, 22, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few quick thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 23-7 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

What it means: No offense to Houston and Tennessee, but what the Colts did defensively to the Chiefs surpasses anything they did against those vacation-bound teams. The Colts sacked Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith four times to go with two Jerrell Freeman interceptions in their first victory over a team with a winning record since beating Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Oct. 20. The Chiefs looked like they were going to have a field day on the Colts after they took their opening possession and running back Jamaal Charles easily scored on a 31-yard run. Kansas City gained 59 yards on its opening drive but gained only 228 more yards the rest of the game.

Impressive performance by the line: The Colts started their seventh different offensive line, including their fifth in the past five games, on Sunday. The tackles were Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus, the guards were Mike McGlynn and Xavier Nixon and the center was Samson Satele. Problems? Of course not. The line only gave up one sack, and the Colts rushed for 135 yards. Nixon, starting in place of Hugh Thornton, had a nice lead block that opened up the middle for running back Donald Brown on his 51-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Redding leaves early: About the only thing that didn’t go right for the defense after its first series was that defensive lineman Cory Redding left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.

Whalen steps up again: You would have never known that receiver Griff Whalen was on the practice squad just nine days ago based off how he’s played the past two games. He followed up his touchdown catch against Houston on Dec. 15 by getting seven catches for 80 yards on Sunday.

What’s next: The Colts wrap up the regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 29. The Colts beat the Jaguars 37-3 in Week 4.

Rapid Reaction: Jacksonville Jaguars

December, 22, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 20-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans:

What it means: The Jaguars (4-11) were unable to overcome a slew of injuries and pick up their second victory at EverBank Field this season. It's just the second time in franchise history the Jaguars have won just one game at home. They went 1-7 at EverBank last season and 1-6 this season (they played a home game against San Francisco in London).

Stock watch: The Jaguars' group of no-name receivers did a solid job against the Titans. Injuries have left the Jaguars with little experience at the position. Entering the game, the team's four active receivers (Ace Sanders, Kerry Taylor, Mike Brown and Lamaar Thomas) had a combined 75 catches this season. None of them have more than a year of experience in the NFL. The group responded, especially Brown and Taylor. Brown caught five passes for 71 yards and one touchdown while Taylor had four catches for 45 yards.

Honoring Meester: The Jaguars had a quick postgame ceremony to honor center Brad Meester, who is retiring at the end of the season after 14 years with the team. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch tried to send him out in style by calling a screen pass for Meester that was designed to get him a touchdown. Meester made the catch but cut left instead of right and got tackled at the 4-yard line. Hard to criticize him for making that wrong cut, though. As former Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli joked at halftime, it's not like offensive linemen regularly read blocks.

Depleted defense: The Jaguars were already without three starters (linebackers Russell Allen and Geno Hayes and defensive tackle Roy Miller) and they lost two more key players during the game: defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick (elbow) and cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle). That forced the Jaguars to use defensive tackle Jordan Miller, who was active for the first time this season, and start inexperienced linebackers J.T. Thomas and John Lotulelei. You could see the drop off. The Titans ran for 182 yards and had most of their success in the passing game in the middle of the field.

What's next: The Jaguars end the 2013 season at Indianapolis on Sunday.