- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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HOUSTON -- Thoughts on the Texans’ 17-10 win over the Falcons at Reliant Stadium:
What it means: The 9-3 Texans matched the best win total in franchise history with their sixth consecutive victory. Houston maintained its two-game lead over the Titans in the AFC South and also has a head-to-head win over Tennessee. The Texans’ defense and run game were big, but rookie quarterback T.J. Yates certainly did his part. A 19-play, 85-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown drive featured a risky fourth-down attempt. But the Texans converted and got seven points instead of three, then held twice as Atlanta threatened the end zone to preserve the lead.
What I liked: A confident team didn’t flinch with its third-string quarterback under center. A swarming defense put great pressure on Matt Ryan and wasn’t bothered by Atlanta’s no-huddle offense. Ryan connected on only 20 of 46 pass attempts for 267 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
What they fear: Could Andre Johnson be in line to miss more time? He left the game in the fourth quarter after pulling up lame while chasing a deep ball. It didn’t look good, and a team that survived well without him for a five-game stretch earlier this season could face the challenge again. Punter Brett Hartmann suffered what looked to be a bad leg injury as well.
What I wonder: They made it, so we don’t need to debate much. But what was Gary Kubiak thinking going for it on fourth-and-1 at Atlanta’s 9-yard line when he could have kicked a field goal to take a lead? If Arian Foster failed to convert there and Atlanta took over with the score knotted at 10-10, Kubiak would have had to answer for a lot.
What’s next: A trip to Cincinnati where the Bengals aren’t looking quite as formidable as they did earlier in the season. A victory would mean Houston's first 10-win season.
1382dMichael C. Wright