Week 1 Game Recap: Houston Texans 7, Buffalo Bills 22
What you need to know
The Texans started the game badly. Their opening series went three and out, ending when David Carr was sacked by Aaron Schobel. On their next possession, Carr tried to find Andre Johnson on third down, but the pass was picked off by Troy Vincent. David Carr looked jittery throughout and came under a lot of pressure from the Bills’ defense. Carr fumbled the ball away on his own 27 yard line on the Texans’ third possession. They did not manage a first down until well into the second quarter. Houston’s only score came on a one yard run by Carr. Whether he actually got in is not certain, but the Bills had used all of their timeouts and could not ask for a review to challenge the play. Carr tried to open up the Bills’ defense late in the third quarter, throwing a 45 yard pass into the end zone. Unfortunately for Carr, the pass was intercepted by Troy Vincent. Carr’s miserable day ended with a third interception when Lawyer Milloy caught a pass intended for Matt Murphy.
Carr’s struggles naturally carried over to the receivers. TE Mark Bruener was the leading receiver for the Texans with a 19 yard catch on his only target. Carr looked to Andre Johnson most often, but was only able to connect on three passes for 18 yards from his eight attempts.
Domanick Davis only had 14 rushing attempts on the day, gaining 48 yards in all. He had two runs of seven yards in the Texans’ opening possession of the third quarter but was never able to consistently run the ball.
The Texans had six penalties on the day and they turned the ball over five times. It was as if they weren’t really ready to play football. The pressure from the Bills’ defense prevented the Texans from ever finding any kind of rhythm on offense and it was hard to take any positives from the game. They did manage to convert three of ten third downs and Carr’s touchdown run was a fourth down conversion.
The 2005 Bills answered a lot of questions in their opening game, and totally dominated the Texans. They held the ball for over 38 minutes.
J.P. Losman snapped out of the preseason funk he’d been suffering from. The coaching staff gave him the opportunity to challenge the Texans in the air, rather than utilizing the strong running game from the start. Losman made good decisions, throwing the ball away rather than forcing it, and only made one truly poor throw all day when he should have been intercepted on the Bills’ opening drive of the second half. Losman also showed his mobility and had a long gain of 19 yards on the ground.
The Bills’ passing game was not dominant but it was good enough to keep the Texans’ defense off balance. Eric Moulds had four receptions but Lee Evans had the longest gain of the day with a 42 yard catch on the opening drive of the game.
The running game looked bad early on and Willis McGahee struggled to make an impression. McGahee briefly left the game at one point and had his leg taped, but quickly returned and did not look injured. McGahee looked much better in the second quarter and had a number of effective runs during the remainder of the game. McGahee nearly scored, coming up about a foot short after carrying five times for 42 yards at the end of the first half.
Rian Lindell was perfect on the day, converting five field goals and an extra point.
Offensive lineman Jason Peters lined up as an eligible receiver and caught J.P. Losman’s first ever NFL touchdown late in the first half. Losman threw over the approaching pass rush to find Peters clear in the end zone from a yard out.
The Bills’ defense was dominant all day. They sacked David Carr five times, intercepted him three times and recovered two fumbles. They continually broke through the Texans’ offensive line and Carr was never comfortable. The only negative points in the Bills’ performance were that they had 10 penalties in the game and only converted one of their six scoring drives into a touchdown.
What you ought to know
|QB David Carr, Pass: 9 - 21 - 70 - 0 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 7 - 40 - 1|
Carr looked bad in this game and was never comfortable at any time. The Bills’ defense brought constant pressure, sacking him five times, intercepting him three times and recovering Carr’s fumble. Carr was held to just nine completions for 70 yards in the game. The Texans’ only scoring play came on fourth down when Carr scrambled into the end zone from a yard out. It is uncertain whether he got in, but the Bills had used all of their timeouts and were unable to challenge the call. Carr’s longest completion of the day was 19 yards to Mark Bruener. His favorite target was Andre Johnson, but he could only connect on three of his eight attempts to Johnson for a total of 18 yards. Carr’s only success was on the ground. He had a long gain of 16 yards and a total of 40 yards on the ground, with a touchdown.
It was a productive day for Osweiler on the day and it started with some big throws down field to DeAndre Hopkins. He was focused on Hopkins early in the game and threw a good ball in traffic that Hopkins got his hands on but was ripped away by a Bears cornerback. It is a ball that Hopkins usually comes up with but this one goes against Osweiler but it was not entirely his fault. Looking to Hopkins, he ended up hitting him for a 23 yard touchdown strike in the end zone on a 9 route. Hopkins ran a nice route and Osweiler put some air under it to let him go to work. Osweiler would have had an 80+ yard touchdown pass if Will Fuller was able to haul it in when he split two defenders getting verbal. Oswieler showed some faith in the youngster and went to him in the second half hitting him from times for 100 yards. He checked into a player to hit Fuller on a smoke screen for 18 yards and touchdown where he went untouched to the end zone with some good blocking. There was a crucial drop on a well place ball in the end zone to Hopkins from Osweiler that should have been a touchdown. He worked underneath to Braxton Miller, Lamar Miller and the tight end group but he did most of his work with Hopkins and Fuller. He tried to push the ball down field late to Fuller to deliver the knock out blow but could complete three attempts of 20 yards or more. Osweiler showed he is not afraid to push the ball down field and let his receivers work.
Davis only had 14 carries during the game for a total of 48 yards. He had two runs of seven yards to start the third quarter, but was unable to consistently move the ball. Davis ran to the two yard line to set up a first and goal, and Carr was able to complete the drive with a one yard run. Davis fumbled on the Texans’ opening drive of the second quarter and the ball was recovered by the Bills. Davis was only targeted four times in the passing game, catching two for nine yards and gaining a first down.
Morency was not able to find much running room during the time that he played. Morency was brought in primarily to spell Lundy, but did get most of the carries on a couple of drives.
If the Texans would have stuck with Alfred Blue it would have been a bigger day for him. With a long run of 11 yards on the day, Blue was able to plow ahead for runs for positive gains. Blue even split out in the slot and made a nice catch for 7 yards which resulted in a first down. He missed a big run when the Texans checked out of a play at the line into a run and with his blocked perfectly he tripped over his feet for no gain. Blue has so much potential but he has moments of lapses that keep him off the field.
Last year’s Houston rushing leader, Ron Dayne, now backs up Ahman Green. As such he provided good relief time for Green. He did not have any receptions but he can be counted on in the running and in the passing game.
His big run came on a 21 yard but that was about all there for Grimes on the day. The Texans plugged him in during goal line trying to punch it in during the first half but he received no help from his offensive line who was overwhelmed at the point of attack. Grimes was even targets in the redzone by Mallett but was tackled inside the five on a two yard gain where he could break away from the tackle.
High volume of touches but little real explosive plays from Lamar Miller in his first game with the Texans. His longest run was 12 yards on a well designed run but the Texans had him working inside the tackles which is not his strong suit. There was not much flash for Miller up the gut and it was a handful of 3 to 4 yard carries for the new feature back. Miller also had four reception in dump off fashion but he was tackled immediately. There were running lanes for Miller but running between the tackles is not his strong suit and how many touches he received is something to monitor moving forward.
Johnson was unable to have an impact on this game despite being Carr’s favorite target. He did gain a first down and also ran the ball twice on the reverse. Most of Johnson’s targets were badly thrown and out of reach.
Bradford was targeted twice in the game but did not have a catch.
Davis dropped an early target and never really got going after that. He had a few short gains, but eventually suffered a concussion. His mediocre performance squandered a precious opportunity to make a case for more playing time with Kevin Walter out.
His first half started with a seven yard reception on an out route to set the Texans up for a field goal attempt. Once again he had a vertical route where he used his speed to split the cornerback and safety only to drop a well thrown ball from Osweiler which would have been an 80+ yard touchdown. Fuller answered the call in the second half and had 4 receptions for 100 yards with 37 coming on yards after the catch. Osweiler him on a smoke screen where he went untouched to the end zone which highlighted his run after the catch ability. He had a tough catch on a post for 20 yards with defender draped over him to set up another field goal attempt. He turned a simple seven yard reception into 20 more yards breaking a tackle and eluding two more defenders for a nice gain. Fuller was targeted deep three more times by Osweiler late in the game trying to end it and one went for 35 yards down the sideline in-between the cornerback and safety that needed a review to confirm his athletic reception.
DeAndre Hopkins' first reception came in the second quarter on a screen play that was blown up by outside linebacker Jarrett Johnson. Hopkins wasn't involved on offense much. His next target was a reception, but it came with five minutes left in the third quarter. He caught the ball underneath before running downfield for a first down. Hopkins most impressive play of the game to that point came with two minutes left in the third quarter. He ran an out route 12 yards down the field. Schaub threw him a slightly high pass that Hopkins snatched out of the air while absorbing a low hit from a defensive back. A few plays later, he bettered that play when Matt Schaub underthrew him. Hopkins beat the defense deep and could have had a touchdown, but instead he was forced to reroute back to the football and make an exceptional diving reception with his hands extended. Hopkins added a 12 yard reception off of play action as he was left wide open in the flat. He caught the ball before quickly turning to run down the sideline.
It was only a two reception day for the rookie but his long reception of 17 yards came off the arm of Ryan Mallett. If anything, Mumphery is seeing time on the field as the fourth wide receiver in four wide receiver sets but he is also the first off the sidelines to fill snaps when Shorts and Washington need breaks on the field. Mupmhery continues to return punts for the Texans and is the only rookie being worked into the offense at the moment.
Murphy caught one pass for 14 yards and the opening first down of the game for the Texans on their fourth possession.
Bruener was only targeted once in the game. He caught a 19 yard pass for a first down.
Only one reception on the day for 15 yards on a broken play, he tight roped the sideline and tapped two feet in to make the catch. He was on the field enough to warrant looks the passing game but with the high rate of pass rushing the Chiefs were producing he helped on occasion to protect on pass plays.
The third year tight end received the start today and had one reception in the middle of the field for 18 yards. He received plenty of work on the field for the offense but it appears his day was derailed with an MCL injury that will keep him out for a few games according to reports.
Brown converted the extra point on the Texans’ only score of the game.
The Texans’ rush defense began the game strongly, and Willis McGahee was unable to get anything going until the second quarter. The Texans allowed 42 rushing yards on the drive that led to the Bills’ touchdown and gave up a number of significant runs. They allowed McGahee to convert on fourth and two. The rush defense gave up a total of 152 net rushing yards, the bulk of which went to McGahee and Losman.
The Texans’ pass defense was surprisingly challenged on the opening drive of the game and did not look convincing. Losman was able to generate several drives on the day and 164 net passing yards. Jason Simmons managed the only sack of the day for Houston.
|QB J.P. Losman, Pass: 17 - 28 - 170 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 31 - 0|
Losman had a very good debut for the Bills. The coaching staff decided to let him challenge the Texans in the air on the opening drive and he responded with five straight completions before overthrowing Sam Aiken at the goal line. Losman looked sharp and made good decisions all day. He did look a little shaky at the start of the second half and should have been intercepted by Antwan Peek. Losman was sacked just once in the game and showed great awareness by seemingly sensing the pressure from behind and cradling the ball as he went to ground. One thing that was evident is that Losman is very mobile. He was able to scramble on several occasions and was not afraid to run the ball if no receivers were open. He had one long run up the middle for 19 yards and a first down. Losman threw his first touchdown pass in the NFL just before the half, absorbing the pressure from the pass rush and finding lineman Jason Peters in the end zone for the score.
For a rookie starting his first game in the NFL, Manuel looked anything but on Sunday. Ignore the numbers for a second (they weren’t great) and consider what the rookie did in his 1st overall start. Despite a fumble on the Bills 2nd play of the game, an early 10-point deficit and some bad drops from his receivers; Manuel never looked overwhelmed or frustrated. Some rust was expected after missing the 2nd half of the preseason and while the team certainly exhibited some, Manuel did not. Manuel had to wait until the 2nd drive of the game to get his first NFL completion, faking the hand off to CJ Spiller before rolling right and finding TE Scott Chandler in the flat for nine yards. Two plays later, Manuel hit Stevie Johnson on a short crosser for 12 yards. The former Seminole QB nearly threw his first interception on his next pass. Trying to hit Robert Woods streaking down the sideline, Manuel forced the throw and Alfonzo Denard made a great defensive play and just missed the INT as he was unable to maintain control after contacting the ground. Manuel didn’t let the near-mistake curtail him, however, as his first throw on the next drive was a 19-yard laser to Woods on a deep crosser. Unfortunately, a penalty killed the play and ultimately the drive as Buffalo was forced to punt three plays later. Two drives later and Manuel still looked sharp; opening the Bills 5th drive will a beautiful touch pass over the defense to TE Scott Chandler. Chandler didn’t do his part, though, as the ball clanked off his hands and fell incomplete. Chandler made amends two drives later, as Manuel threw a strike down the seam to his TE for a 19-yard gain. Manuel went right back to the air the following play, taking advantage of what appeared to be a breakdown in coverage and threw his first TD in the NFL on the 18-yard completion to Woods. The first drive out of halftime was Manuel’s (and the Bills) best on Sunday, by far. After opening with five straight runs before Manuel had his first chance to drop back to pass. With nothing there, Manuel seeped out of the pocket and scrambled for 19 yards. Two more runs before Manuel threw a strike to Fred Jackson on an arrow route on 3rd down for 11 yards and a 1st down. Supposedly one to struggle with downfield accuracy, Manuel dropped his next throw “in the bucket” for his 2nd TD pass of the game. Johnson split the coverage as he worked into the end zone. Manuel threw the ball early, putting the perfect amount of touch and air on the throw and Johnson was able to run underneath it for the 18-yard TD catch. It really was a thing of beauty and had Ralph Wilson Stadium rocking as Buffalo took their 1st lead of the game. The following drive looked promising too, as Manuel hit Jackson out of the backfield for a 14-yard gain. Two plays later, on 3rd down, Manuel hit Jackson again on a swing pass for a first down. But as Buffalo had done so many times already, they shot themselves in the foot with a penalty on the play and killed the drive. The QB missed on his next two throws spanning two drives before hitting Chandler over the middle for six yards. Facing a 3rd and two, the offense was facing the game’s biggest play and again Manuel was let down by his receivers despite delivering the ball where he needed to. Johnson ran a quick out and Manuel hit the WR on the hands, but Johnson couldn’t make the catch and Buffalo was forced to punt. Not Manuel’s best throw of the game, it was still a catch Johnson has to make if Buffalo is going to take that next step as a team. The Bills had to punt on the drive and went three and out on their final drive with the lead, leaving the door wide open for Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Bills would ultimately lose the game, but fans have to be excited about what they saw from Manuel. A few too many checkdowns, perhaps, but leaps and bounds better than the mistakes the fans are accustomed to. Manuel looked poised in the pocket, keeping the offense composed despite the mistakes (turnovers, drops and penalties) and giving the team a very real shot to win the game.
Taylor’s first game as the Bills’ QB involved another player starting at the QB position. Matt Cassel was in the game for the Bills’ first play from scrimmage, a McCoy run that ended in a 6 yard loss. Taylor was in at WR on this play but then was QB for the rest of the game. Clearly the intent is to have Taylor be the primary QB but Rex seems to be eager to try some alternative formations.
Once Taylor took his proper place at QB, the game plan was designed to make him comfortable in the pocket. He was effective in the short passing game that the Bills employed, often throwing darts into medium sized windows. Taylor’s few big downfield plays showed promise, the “50 yards in the air” TD to Harvin was a great throw placed right where it needed to be. His running ability was highlighted with a 31 yard scamper on 3rd down that led to a TD three plays later.
However, all was not perfect in Taylor-land. Miscommunication led to two timeouts being used in the first quarter to avoid delay of game penalties. At one point while dropping back to pass, Taylor did a 360 spin move just to look at his different receiver options (though he did complete the pass). Taylor fumbled the ball after receiving the snap and starting to go through his progressions (though he did recover the ball and scramble for 7 yards). Taylor throws the ball at the stretched hands of a D-lineman (though he bats the ball down to prevent the tipped interception). All of these mistakes can be attributed to first game jitters and the awareness that he displayed in recovering from most of them shows real promise. Taylor is not primed to become the next Manning or Brady, but he does look to be the first legitimate answer that the Bills have had at QB in a long time.
Willis McGahee started the game slowly and could not get anything going in the first quarter. He briefly left the game after injuring his leg, but returned after it was taped and did not look injured. The Bills’ running game started to look more effective after they replaced the injured Chris Villarrial with Duke Preston and McGahee ran five times for 42 yards with first down runs of 11 yards and 17 yards just before the half. He almost scored to end the drive but was about a foot short. McGahee caught three passes for 15 yards.
Williams was used to spell McGahee and saw some carries late in the game when the result was beyond reasonable doubt. He ran seven times for 14 yards to run out the clock.
Reggie Bush may still be a good player but he is not a good fit for the Bills’ running game. The Bills already have LeSean McCoy as the quick back; they need a bruiser as the change-of-pace back. Bush has never been the bruiser. Like McCoy, Bush will attempt to get to the edge and turn upfield for massive yardage. Unlike McCoy who had some success, Bush got eaten up for a big loss of yards two out of his three runs. Luckily for Bush, there does not seem to be another trusted RB on the roster so he may keep his second-string spot. But he will probably not do much with it.
An absolute bruiser of a back, Dixon announced his presence with authority on his 2nd carry. Preferring to run through tacklers instead of around them, Dixon went over the center and crossed paths with two Bears looking for a fight. The three collided, with Dixon absorbing the contact and still had enough forward momentum to spin away and stumble forward for four more yards. Dixon wasn’t all brute, however, as he showed some nice wiggle on his 47-yard rumble in the 2nd quarter. Taking the ball on the read-option and seeing the parting of the Red Sea, Dixon blasted through. Chris Conte had come downfield and was waiting just beyond the hole, but a sly shift to his right and Dixon easily ran through Conte’s weak arm tackle and was off to the races.
McCoy caught a swing pass on the second play of the game and took it for 20 yards. He played well in space all game, displaying speed, vision, and elusiveness. McCoy showed very little signs of the injury that was nagging him in the off-season. However, the majority of McCoy's running snaps were not so positive. McCoy was getting hit behind the line of scrimmage all game; the Bills run blocking was not doing him any favors. The one time McCoy was able to break free for a TD, it was called back for holding. McCoy is still the elite running back that he has always been so watch for improvement in the Buffalo line and his value should increase.
Thomas played during the Bills’ second offensive possession and ran three times for 29 yards including and 18 yard touchdown run as McGahee tweaked an ankle and was being re-taped. He also had two catches for 19 yards
Moulds was the most heavily targeted Bills’ receiver, catching four of his seven targets, three of which were for first downs. Moulds was also targeted twice in the end zone but neither pass was catchable. Losman seemed to have confidence in Moulds.
|WR Lee Evans, Rush: 1 - -10 - 0, Rec: 3 - 68 - 0 (5 targets)|
Evans gained the most receiving yards on the day, catching three of his five targets for 68 yards. His main contribution came on the opening drive of the game when he caught a nine yard pass for a first down and on the next play had a 42 yard gain to give the Bills a first down on the Houston 16. Evans was used on a reverse once but it was badly run and he lost ten yards on the play.
Reed caught Losman’s opening pass but was not a factor after that.
Goodwin only had one catch on a shallow crosser, but the catch was nullified as Goodwin had the ball stripped by Kyle Arrington. Goodwin apparently hurt his hand on the fumble and didn’t return to the game.
Price made his return the team of his best success and finished with three catches for 25 yards. Price had a ten yard reception called back on a holding call.
While Watkins long of 25 yards didn’t directly lead to any points directly, it may have been his most relevant given the nature of the grab. Working deep across the middle of the field and overtly exposed by another high throw from his quarterback, Watkins went up without any restrictions or reservations about his injured ribs to make the catch. Although they may still be hurting, he clearly was not too concerned about taking a shot to his midsection. Watkins had two other catches, but neither went for more than six yards. Watkins did just miss a deep connection with Manuel just out of halftime off a play-action fake. The speedy rookie wide receiver had beaten the coverage, but Manuel slightly overthrew the deep ball as it was just out of Watkins reach.
Woods only registered one catch on two targets, but what a catch it was. It appeared Aqib Talib expected help over the top as he allowed Woods to run right by him. There was no help, however, and Manuel easily hit the wide-open Woods for the 18-yard TD catch (his 1st of his NFL career). Woods had one other catch, a 19-yard strike on a deep crosser, but the play was wiped out by a penalty. Buffalo never really let the passing game loose, so there wasn’t much for Woods on Sunday.
Campbell caught two passes on the day, the second of which went for 11 yards and a first down.
Clay had a relatively quiet game marred by a few mistakes. His first reception was called back from an iffy chop block call on himself. Clay’s big 26 yard reception involved him fumbling at the end of the play but luckily he was able to fall back on the ball to recover. The Bills will be expecting more from their well-paid tight end, look for his participation to increase as the Bills get more comfortable with expanding Taylor’s game plan.
Lindell had a busy day, making all of his field goal attempts and also converting the extra point. Lindell was successful from 35, 21, 42, 39 and 31 yards. He also kicked a number of kickoffs deep and found the end zone on several.
The Bills’ rush defense held the Texans to 95 net rushing yards. They allowed Carr to scramble for 16 yards on one play, and also conceded a rushing touchdown when Carr went in from one yard. London Fletcher recovered a Domanick Davis fumble to give the Bills the ball on the Texans’ 17 yard line.
The Bills’ pass defense was excellent throughout the game. David Carr was under constant pressure and was sacked five times. Aaron Schobel had two sacks on the day, both ending drives. Takeo Spikes, Chris Kelsay and Jabari Greer also registered sacks. Carr was intercepted three times in the game. Troy Vincent had two of them, and Lawyer Milloy had the other at the end of the game. Milloy also recovered Carr’s fumble. The Texans’ passing game was completely stifled, gaining just 25 net yards on the day.