AFC South: Mikel Leshoure
November, 22, 2012
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
DETROIT -- Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 34-31 overtime win over the Lions at Ford Field:
What it means: The Texans came from behind late again and pulled out an overtime win for the second week in a row, adding more fuel to a team-of-destiny feel. Houston is 10-1, and, no matter the results from around the rest of the conference, it will head into Week 13 with a two-game lead in the AFC race for home-field advantage in the playoffs. (Houston holds a head-to-head tiebreaker with Baltimore.)
What I liked: In a tense, tight game, Danieal Manning pulled the ball free from safety Brandon Pettigrew and Darryl Sharpton recovered it to end the first possession of overtime. The offense moved to position Shayne Graham for a 51-yard field goal attempt. But he missed wide left. Detroit got a 47-yard chance at a winning field goal, but Jason Hanson dinged the right upright. Houston then drove 49 yards in six plays to position Graham for a 32-yarder with 2:21 on the clock that won it.
What I also liked: More broadly, I liked the same things as I like in most Texans wins -- the resolve, the versatility, the ability to find the plays in the shape of the game in front of them that are needed to win it.
What I didn’t like: First and foremost, the rule that prevented a review of Justin Forsett’s 81-yard “touchdown run” where he appeared to be down. Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw his challenge flag. But scoring plays are automatically reviewed, and throwing the challenge flag actually negates the review possibility and earns a 15-yard penalty on the subsequent kickoff. Schwartz has to know that. But it’s still silly not to review the scoring play. The Texans got a huge break out of all of it.
What I also didn’t like: Plenty of pass defenses struggle with Calvin Johnson, but the coverage plans with corner Johnathan Joseph (hamstring) out were bad, and Megatron had a field day with eight catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. Houston did do better on him in the second half, after deciding Alan Ball wasn't up to trying to cover Johnson on his own. The original plan was a poor one. After benefiting from the non-review, the Texans pulled even at 24-all. Rather than seizing control, the Texans gave up a 23-yard run up the middle for a touchdown to Joique Bell and had to fight back to evened-up again to force overtime.
Injury issues: Joseph, inside linebacker Tim Dobbins, nose tackle Shaun Cody and running back Ben Tate didn’t play. Outside linebacker Brooks Reed (groin) and right tackle Derek Newton (right knee) left the game early, and inside linebacker Bradie James suffered a hamstring injury in the second half and didn’t finish. The Texans have a mini bye now and need it to heal up.
Inevitable? The Texans had not allowed a rushing touchdown all season. They allowed two in this game, a 2-yard run by Mikel Leshoure in the first quarter and Bell’s 23-yarder in the fourth.
What’s next: The Texans play at Tennessee on Dec. 2 and at New England on "Monday Night Football" on Dec. 10.
November, 4, 2012
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the Jaguars’ 31-14 loss to the Lions at EverBank Field:
What it means: The Jaguars fell to 1-7 halfway through their season with an anemic offensive effort that allowed the Lions to run out to a 24-0 lead and never fear a negative result. The question now is whether the Jaguars will be able to help complicate things for four teams they play in the second half that look to be on their way to the playoffs.
What I didn’t like: The Lions controlled the clock for 35:30 thanks to a giant rushing day with 34 carries for 142 yards, a 4.4-yard average and four touchdowns, three from Mikel Leshoure. Meanwhile, the Jaguars managed only 20 carries for 64 yards and a 3.2-yard average. In the second quarter, Detroit ran 30 plays, got 14 first downs and scored 21 points.
What I also didn’t like: Jacksonville added two prominent receivers in the offseason to address the deficiencies of its passing offense. Veteran Laurent Robinson and rookie Justin Blackmon combined to average 6.6 yards on 11 catches in this game with a long play of 12 yards. This team is desperate for big chunks, and it isn’t getting them. In all, the Jaguars and Blaine Gabbert got 8.1 yards per completion, while Detroit got 13.0, 18.4 from its star receiver, Calvin Johnson.
Way too late: The Jaguars didn’t score until the fourth quarter. Before finding touchdowns on their final two possessions, their drives ended like this: punt, punt, punt, punt, end of the half, interception, interception. The offense hadn’t gotten closer to the goal line than Detroit’s 26 until scoring touchdowns the final two times it got the ball.
Fizzled: A healthier and deeper defensive line had shown signs of life in recent weeks. But the pass pressure against Matthew Stafford was insufficient, with one sack from George Selvie and just two more hits.
What’s next: The Jaguars host Thursday night football in a rematch against the only team they’ve beaten this season, the Indianapolis Colts.