AFC South: 2013 Week 9 Upon Further Review

Upon Further Review: Colts Week 9

November, 4, 2013
HOUSTON -- An examination of five topics from the Indianapolis Colts' 27-24 victory over the Houston Texans:

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
Thomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesAndrew Luck and the Colts had a much better second half Sunday night.
Adjusting to the rush: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had a difficult time when the Texans rushed four or fewer players in the first half. He was only 2-of-8 and was pressured on 56 percent of his dropbacks (5-of-9) in the half. Luck handled the pressure better in the second half. He was 10-of-16 for two touchdowns and averaged 10.4 yards an attempt. “Tale of two halves,” Luck said. “They were beating our butts fair and square. We made some mistakes, but they’re the No. 1 defense from our perspective.”

Finally slowing Johnson: Texans receiver Andre Johnson looked like he was going to challenge Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson’s 329 yards when he had his way against Indianapolis' secondary during a seven-catch, 190-yard performance in the first half. The Colts held Johnson to only two catches for 39 yards in the second half. “We switched it up some in the second half,” Colts cornerback Vontae Davis said. “It’s a 60-minute game. We’re a bunch of guys who have been in the league for a number of years. We know it’s not over until it’s over. It’s about making adjustments.”

No rushing: To no surprise, the Colts finished with a season-low 69 yards rushing. Donald Brown picked up 24 of those yards on a run in the first half. The Colts went away from their ground game in the second half. They rushed the ball only one time prior to their final offensive series, when they ran it on three consecutive plays to try to eat up some clock. "We didn’t want to totally abandon the run game but we felt like the offensive guys did a great job, [offensive coordinator] Pep [Hamilton] did a great job changing the tempo a little bit,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Did a little bit more up-tempo and give our guys a chance to make some plays.”

More Luck and Hilton: Second-year receiver T.Y. Hilton found a rhythm with Luck in the second half after letting his quarterback down in the first half. Hilton had 115 of his 121 yards in the second. Luck was 3-of-3 for 78 yards and two touchdowns when targeting Hilton under standard pressure in the second half. There’s only one Reggie Wayne, but Hilton proved Sunday night that he plans to do his best to try to fill the void left behind by the veteran receiver because of his season-ending knee injury.

Barely got it off: Not even Colts punter Pat McAfee could explain how he got a punt off with Bryan Braman of the Texans flying at him. The officials did not call a penalty on Braman despite the fact he ran into McAfee and didn't touch the ball on his block attempt. “I seriously don’t know,” McAfee said. “I couldn’t see the ball, I do know that. I think I was just swinging for whatever was there and I just happened to hit the ball. Obviously it’s much better than getting it blocked to the house. But we have to clean up some stuff.” McAfee dropped the ball on a punt attempt on the play prior to his collision with Braman. The Colts punter picked the ball up and eluded a defender to get off a 55-yard punt. That play was called back because of an illegal player downfield. “I was going to run for it but I saw too many humans that are way more athletic than me,” McAfee said.

Upon Further Review: Titans Week 9

November, 4, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Tennessee Titans' 28-21 win over the St. Louis Rams:

His role now: Kenny Britt is a run blocker and a decoy. He can be effective in the first role; defenses surely welcome him on to the field in the second. He was targeted only once by Jake Locker on Sunday, and while Cortland Finnegan's interception was the result of a bad throw more than anything Britt did, you can’t help but think the percentages of something good happening when Britt is the target are low. Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter and Damian Williams are all more threatening. Nate Washington was a go-to guy for Locker before his injury and has caught only three passes in two games since Locker’s return. The Titans should be focused on getting Washington going again well ahead of being concerned about Britt.

[+] EnlargeTennessee's Kenny Britt
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty ImagesCortland Finnegan will likely have to restructure his contract in order to return to the Rams in 2014.
Ayers as a factor: They’ve tried a bunch of different things with Akeem Ayers since drafting him in the second round out of UCLA in 2011. He’s still not an impact guy. In St. Louis, he didn’t come off the field, playing his usual strongside linebacker spot in base and as the Mike in the nickel. In such situations, his forte should be as a run stopper, but the Rams ran for 160 yards and 5.0 yards per attempt. On Sunday, they abandoned the idea of him as a situational end. It’s impressive that the defense has been what it has been through eight games with no consistent presence from Ayers.

Um, about that missed call: I’ve been critical of the Titans bemoaning the officials a bit too frequently, as if the NFL has some rationale for picking on them. But I liked Washington’s approach when talking about Jake Locker’s second interception in St. Louis. Washington didn’t get to where Locker was throwing because he was held up by former teammate Cortland Finnegan. The play drew no flag and was an easy interception for safety Rodney McLeod. “Cortland did a great job of holding me, flat out,” Washington said. “Rookie back judge [Dale Shaw], it’s his first year. So I’m not going to go toO far with it, I don’t want to get fined. But at the same time, let’s just say Cortland did a good job of being Cortland.” Nice work by Washington knowing Shaw’s résumé.

Um, about that one snap: Jurrell Casey is one of the Titans' best defenders and the defensive tackle has a team-high six sacks. He’s a problem-causer. No need to outsmart yourself and drop him into coverage on an athletic, speedy tight end like Jared Cook. It made for an easy 17-yard completion to Cook and didn’t make a lot of sense. I believe future teams on the schedule would love to see Casey moving backward instead of forward.

Upon Further Review: Texans Week 9

November, 4, 2013
An examination of four hot issues from the Houston Texans' 27-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Kicking lows: Texans kicker Randy Bullock has made 61.9 percent of his field goals this season. That ranks 32nd in the NFL and is the second-worst percentage of any kicker who has made at least one field goal this season. His 63.6 make percentage from 40 to 49 yards ranks 26th in the NFL. He has attempted four kicks of at least 50 yards and made none of them. One could have tied the Texans' game against the Colts as time expired. Worse for the Texans, they're a team that needs him. Bullock has attempted 21 field goals, the third most in the league this season. "Honestly, tonight was a rough night for me," Bullock said. "I had a really good week of practice and didn’t see any of this coming. It is very upsetting and very frustrating."

[+] EnlargeCase Keenum
Thomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesCase Keenum threw three first-half touchdown passes on Sunday.
Quarterbacking highs: There were some definite late mistakes, and some instances when Case Keenum was lucky he didn't add to the Texans' dreaded pick-six total. But Keenum had another bright night and became the first Texans quarterback since 2009 to throw three touchdowns and no interceptions in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The last one to do it was the deposed Matt Schaub. Keenum threw for 350 yards and stretched the field. Thirteen of his 20 completions traveled 10 or more yards in the air. He has thrown three touchdowns and no interceptions on such throws this season. Schaub and T.J. Yates threw two touchdowns and three interceptions on such throws.

Dubious firsts continue: The Texans' six-game losing streak ties a franchise record. Sunday night's loss also snapped a nine-game winning streak in games in which the Texans led by at least 18 at halftime. This is only the second time in team history the Texans have lost after holding a halftime lead that large.

Running back shuffle: Arian Foster wasn't interested in even acknowledging that he had been asked a question as he walked through the locker room Sunday night. He declined other media requests as well, maintaining his trend from the prior week during which he declined interview requests on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Sometimes when players dodge the media with so much gusto, it's because they are frustrated about their own health. Foster should be. This, after all, is a separate injury than what was ailing him for the past two weeks. For two weeks it was a hamstring that kept him out of practices. On Sunday he lasted one series before suffering what the Texans said was a back injury that knocked him out of the game. That left the Texans with Ben Tate, still recovering from his four broken ribs, and undrafted rookie Dennis Johnson. Both players had some good moments, but that's not an ideal position for Houston.