The Texans were undefeated and unblemished heading into Sunday’s game against the Packers, and they hadn’t even trailed by more than five. They were easily and resoundingly anointed the NFL’s best team… and then the Packers showed up.
The result was an ugly beat-down, a 42-24 defeat that left the stands empty except for chants of “Go Pack Go!” and wasn’t even as close as the score. QB Aaron Rodgers torched the previously respected Houston secondary. Penalties crushed them, prolonging two drives that turned into 14 Green Bay points. And their best offensive weapon, running back Arian Foster, remained in neutral all night.
So… what the heck happened?
“It was shocking but if you go out and play the way we played, that’s what happens,” WR Andre Johnson said post-game. “They were explosive offensively. If we don’t go out and move the ball, then we leave our defense out on the field and give them a chance to give up points. It’s no secret. We know what type of team we are. They are the defending Super Bowl champs from a couple of years ago, so we knew what we were in for. We just didn’t go out and play the way we needed to play.”
It’s safe to say we learned about the Packers last night, especially the way they dominated while missing so many key players. Who won’t consider them to be among the league’s elite now, even with their record? As for the Texans? Well, they played badly. Horribly. It happens, even with the nation watching at the worst time.
But did we learn about them? Not yet.
“Trial by fire, fight fire,” defensive captain Antonio Smith said. “This type of loss is going to ignite something and we’re going to find out what type of team we are. This moment, it’s not a defining moment, but it’s a moment you’re going to have to respond to and you’re going to have these a few more times before you can be a championship team.”
If the Texans have a weakness, it’s that it doesn’t look like they are built to play from behind. They haven’t needed to, it should be pointed out, but they aren’t equipped well for that. In truth on Sunday, we never really saw the Houston offense. Foster wasn’t much of a factor, they couldn’t stay on the field, and they couldn’t block ‘em well enough.
“I just think it was that we never really got into what we wanted to do,” tight end Owen Daniels said. “I can only speak offensively. We had to get into kind of a hurry-up two minute mode obviously way earlier than we had really anticipated or wanted to. We didn’t do many things well tonight.”
The Texans had dumb penalties, beginning with DeVier Posey lining up off-sides on a punt. Mind-numbing. But those aren’t characteristic of the way they played. Are they a complete anomaly? Perhaps. Either way, as QB Matt Schaub pointed out, “The good thing is it only counts as one.”
Key will be making sure it stays that with. The Ravens, the rolling Ravens, come into town next weekend. They won’t have Ray Lewis on defense, they won’t have Lardarius Webb, but they are still Baltimore. How the Texans come back and begin building a new national impression will be something to see. CB Johnathan Joseph said the mindset is the same.
“It hasn’t changed,” Joseph said. “It doesn’t matter if we lose by 15 or 20 points – it still counts as a loss. We will be right back next week. We have a game to play Sunday.”