AFC South Week 2
By Rafael Garcia
Sr. Contributing Writer-Football Reporters Online
Houston 34 Tennessee 31
As the teams prepared for this game each knew that this would be a pivotal game. Yes it’s early but this was a divisional game and the team that won this one would take a big step forward and the loser a step back. Each team was trying to avoid going into a 0-2 hole and it was the Texans that came out the victor. It started well for the Titans as running back Chris Johnson scored twice in the first quarter. The first score was a beauty as the Titans were facing third and 19 and wondering what play to call. They decided on a draw and Johnson took it to the house showing his blazing speed. The next one was a thing of confusion, beauty and pure speed. Johnson was split wide left and noticed that no one was wide enough on defense. Kerry Collins noticed the same thing too and called a quick count snap. He got the ball to Johnson and with nobody near him he was off to the races. It was 14-7 and the Titans looked well on their way to a rout. No sooner than the second quarter started they were at it again. At the 12-minute mark Collins hit wide receiver Nate Washington from 8 yards out and it was 21-7 Tennessee. This is what the Texans were trying to avoid all week long. They talked about keeping their mistakes to a minimum and here they were in a hole helped out by their own mistakes. There was still time though and they had to decide if they were going to stand toe-to-toe with Tennessee or give in early. They chose to stand and fight and a great game ensued from there. Now it was Tennessee’s turn to make the mistakes that would eventually cost them the game. On their next drive Houston would close the gap. Titan cornerback Nick Harper and free safety Michael Griffin bit on the run and were burned by WR Andre Johnson’s 72-yard scoring catch. Just over a minute later QB Matt Schaub hit Jacoby Jones from 29 yards to tie the game. A field goal followed and the Texans had just scored 17 unanswered points to take their first lead of the game. Rob Bironas finished off the first half scoring tying the game with two seconds left in the half. So now the Texans had showed the Titans they could play with them. That they could push and shove back and not be intimidated by their long time foes. The third quarter would provide more drama when Chris Johnson took a handoff from the Titan nine and went left. Before you knew it he was in the open field and there was nobody that was going to catch him. 91 yards later he had scored his third touchdown of the game and it put his team up once again. Still Houston would not give in as they drove 65 yards on 11 plays to tie the game at 31-31. Now the stage was set for a dramatic finish between these two divisional teams. After two punts by each team Houston got the ball with just over seven minutes left and moved the ball 63 yards on nine plays to take a 34-31 lead. There was still time left for Tennessee to tie or win the game. So with less than two minutes left Collins took the snap and felt the pressure coming. He took a step into the pocket to avoid Amobi Okoye’s rush and then inexplicably dropped the football. Defensive lineman Jeff Zgonina picked up the fumble and sealed the win for Houston. The Titans had their chance and gave it away but it was not the only reason they lost. The defense could not get the job done on this day. They allowed Schaub too much time to hit his receivers. He finished 25-39 for 357 yards and a career high four touchdown passes. Andre Johnson had 10 catches for 149 yards and two scores. This game showed that the Titans are adjusting to life without Albert Haynesworth. They do not have that run stopper and the secondary was unusually soft. They have plenty of work to do and going into a 0-2 hole in their division puts them seriously behind the eight ball. As for Houston, well it was a win but they cannot rest here. They must learn from their own mistakes as well. They allowed Johnson to run wild on them as he had 16 carries for 197 yards and added nine catches for 87 yards more. Kerry Collins was 21-33 for 216 yards and two touchdowns but his fumble late cost his team a chance for the win.
Arizona 31 Jacksonville 17
Last week the Jags had trouble playing a team within their division and this week they were at home and made it a record day for Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner. He was 24-26 for 243 yards and two touchdowns, had a passer rating of 131.2 and completed a single-season record 92.3 % of his passes. The pass rush never showed up for the Jags and Warner took full advantage. He completed passes to nine different receivers and got help from Jacksonville when they had a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown. On top of that Arizona was able to run as well averaging over four yards a carry. Jags running back Maurice Jones-Drew had 13 carries for 66 yards and four catches for another 17. That will not get the job done when you give your star player only 17 touches for the game. So the Jags start off 0-2 and will look for answers as they face Houston and Tennessee the next two weeks. Warner was able to throw right and left as well as short or long. He had no turnovers and was never sacked. The Cardinals had a 24-3 lead at the half and stretched it to four touchdowns later. As for the Jags, well let’s just say, they were awful. Quarterback David Garrard was in desperation mode most of the game. He was sacked four times and fumbled three other times. His line gave him little or no protection and players were blaming each other after the game. They must take responsibility one by one and as a whole. It will take so much more for them as coach Jack Del Rio find his hold on the job weakening. It’s early but time will not wait for the things this team needs to do to compete.
Indianapolis 27 Miami 23
Someone please explain to me how you lose a game in which you control the ball? A game you dominated for most of the night? The Miami Dolphins found a way to give a game away on Monday night. Everything was working to perfection starting with the Wildcat. Running back Ronnie Brown had a huge game as he found hole after hole to gain 136 yards on 24 carries to go with two scores. Quarterback Chad Pennington hit receivers to complement the running game. The Dolphins kept Peyton Manning and the Colts offense off the field for most of the game and yet they managed to win. If that was not enough Miami had the ball for just over 45 minutes and still could not win. One thing for sure this game shows that Manning still has what it takes to move his football team even with new weapons at his disposal. He showed that he could make the most of his opportunity even when his time on the field is limited. He turned two short passes into touchdowns with some heads up route running by TE Dallas Clark and wide receiver Pierre Garcon. The defense was on the field most of the game but when they needed to make a stop they made it. Manning finished 14-23 for 303 yards with two touchdowns, as he made the most of the few chances his offense got. So the Colts are 2-0 when they could be 0-2 with a few twists and turns. Either way they proved that their man behind center could still move an offense at will and it will take much more to knock Indy of its high horse.