Once again, they weren’t perfect. They struggled to run the football. They stubbornly kept trying to run it on first down even though they were failing miserably. They were soft on defense against the run. They let the Titans stay in the game with a second quarter where they seemed to think the game was already over after taking an early lead.
And yet the Texans still cruised to an easy 38-14 win in a game that seemed closer than it was. But in the end, no matter how it looked, the Texans went to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history (actually, city history as the Oilers were never 4-0 either) and hit the quarter pole with the best record in the AFC.
Last week, it was the offense that came up with a big play when it needed to with Andre Johnson’s clutch third down catch.
This time — as it was most of last season — it was the defense.
The Texans offense was sputtering, playing too conservatively, and had just punted against with just a 14-7 lead.
Then Danieal Manning returned a tip ball for a touchdown, the defense got the ball back quickly and the Texans offense came to life, thanks in part to some awful tackling by Tennessee, and just like that it was 28-7. Game over.
It says a lot about how good this Texans team is that they win games with ease when they aren’t necessarily playing at their best.
The good news is they are 4-0. The bad news? The real tests begin. The next three games are at the Jets, followed by the Packers and Ravens at Reliant Stadium. A 2-1 record would be one hell of an accomplishment, although the Darrell Revis-less Jets may not be as good of a win as it looked like before the season.
They will wrap up the next four games with a home game against Buffalo. At worst, the Texans should go 2-2 and be sitting 6-2 at the break. At best? It’s no longer silly to suggest they could be 8-0.
In Sunday’s game, the defensive star was once again J.J. Watt, who had two sacks, and a fumble recovery and has certainly been the Texans most valuable player on either side of the ball through the first four games.
Matt Schaub continues to be efficient, not turn the ball over and do the little things it takes to win football games.
Karrem Jackson more and more is looking like an NFL cornerback. He made a terrific defensive play to break up a pass, then pulled off a pick six in the fourth quarter on a great read.
There are a few concerns. One is offensive line depth. Antoine Caldwell was injured during the game and wasn’t playing that well when he got hurt, sharing time with rookie Ben Jones. There is almost no depth behind them if Caldwell is out for a while.
Derek Newton continues to be shaky at right tackle.
The Trindon Holliday experience needs to end. He continues to make bad decisions and has made no major impact on the return game once he started facing real NFL players.
The defense still has issues against the run, allowing Chris Johnson a rare 100-yard game on Sunday.
And it’s milk carton time for Connor Barwin, who not only is sackless, but is making no impact on the game.
And even with that, the Texans are 4-0. Easily. That’s the mark of a good team — when even the bad news is good news. The Texans can improve.
And yet they are unbeaten at the quarter pole for the first time.
There’s a long way to go, obviously. But so far, things could not be going any better. Even if they aren’t going perfectly.