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Texans take big step toward playoffs, Falcons miss a big chance

Matt Ryan,  Antonio Smith AP

The Houston Texans look like they can win the AFC South no matter who’s at quarterback. And the Atlanta Falcons look like they’re just about out of the NFC South race.

Down to third-string quarterback T.J. Yates, Houston had a heavy dose of Arian Foster and a great defensive effort and managed to pull off a big win over the Falcons.

Yates, a rookie fifth-round draft pick, has a long way to go before he’ll be a good starting quarterback in the NFL. But he avoided making any huge mistakes and did just enough not to lose the game. (Thanks in part to a defensive holding penalty that wiped out what at first looked like a game-winning pick-six for the Falcons in the fourth quarter.) And he made just enough good passes to keep the Falcons’ defense from loading up too much on Houston’s running game.

That running game is led by Foster, who carried the load for Houston with 33 rushes for 111 yards. Foster also scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, at the end of a sensational 19-play, 85-yard drive on which we saw just how effective and methodical the Texans’ offense can be.

The Falcons’ offense can be good, too, but it wasn’t today against the Texans’ defense. Matt Ryan threw two interceptions in the first quarter and never really settled down, and Michael Turner had just 44 rushing yards.

Atlanta will need more offense soon if it’s going to make the playoffs. The good news for the Falcons is that their top rival for a wild card spot, the Bears, also lost today. The bad news is that if they want any realistic hope of winning their division, they’ll need to cheer for the Lions to upset the Saints tonight. A New Orleans victory would make the NFC South all but out of reach. Just like the AFC South — a division that the Texans have pretty much wrapped up.

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27 Responses to “Texans take big step toward playoffs, Falcons miss a big chance”
  1. shecklesmckenzie says: Dec 4, 2011 4:33 PM

    Ryan missed some easy passes today, but I won’t put those two picks on him.

    Turner screwed up the flea flicker on one and Julio (who had an absolutely horrendous game) messed up the route on the other.

    Atlanta needs to be more consistent, but I have to give the game ball to the Houston crowd. They disrupted the no-huddle all game long. Oh, and that Houston D is really good.

  2. otis52gsh says: Dec 4, 2011 4:34 PM

    Remember all that matty ice crap. He ain’t good. Way to inconsistent.

  3. flickaboogie says: Dec 4, 2011 4:34 PM

    Come on Falcons fans, let’s hear about how the Texans are dirty and hurt your feelings.

  4. larrydavidstern says: Dec 4, 2011 4:43 PM

    Matt Ryan is the most overrated QB in the league! He’s solid, not special, a game manager, not a game changer! He’s just lucky he gets to play 8 of his games in that cozy dome of theirs.

  5. cmack21 says: Dec 4, 2011 4:51 PM

    How over rated is Matt Ryan AND his team

  6. dalucks says: Dec 4, 2011 4:56 PM

    Andre Johnson hurt his hamstring and he is the only wide reciever for the Texans who can catch the ball. Time to call Terrell Owens for the rest of the season and cut Derrick Mason.

  7. bleedbattlered says: Dec 4, 2011 4:58 PM

    Texans D was nasty but Falcons offense is very overrated..especially on the road.

  8. skippynj says: Dec 4, 2011 4:59 PM

    How bout that draft pick! Fade away dirty birds, fade away. JJ makes 4 boo-boos on the final drive. He’s such a typical falcon, all flash, no substance. Keep your beaks up, there’s always next year…and thanks for a very enjoyable afternoon.

  9. thekingdave says: Dec 4, 2011 5:01 PM

    I don’t think the Falcons are overrated. White and Jones on the outside opened up the middle for Gonzales all day. Texans D held them in check when it mattered with a huge assist from the home crowd. Sounds crazy to say after Schaub and Leinart went down, but the Texans are capable of winning out and securing a bye after what I saw from them today.

  10. galvestontexans says: Dec 4, 2011 5:07 PM

    @dalucks

    I agree time to call T.O. and draft a receiver in the 1st or 2nd round next year

  11. kinguga says: Dec 4, 2011 5:19 PM

    The Falcons dropped way too many passes today. Ryan was doing his happy feet routine, but the plays were there to be made. Throw in all the penalties and a total lack of a running game and you have the perfect recipe for a Falcon loss.

    Even so, the Falcons are still in decent shape. If the Lions lose tonight and the Giants lose today, the Falcons are right where they were after last week. The NFC wild-card contenders are all flawed as hell. They either have too many injuries (Bears) or shoot themselves in the foot with inconsistent play (Falcons, Giants, Lions).

    (I’m actually handing the Cowboys the NFC East, but does anybody really have faith in that team?)

    Anyway, 9-7 might be good enough this year.

  12. freedomispopular says: Dec 4, 2011 5:32 PM

    This would be just the right situation that TO was waiting for. I wonder if they’ll go after him.

  13. philrat says: Dec 4, 2011 5:41 PM

    The number 3 rushing attack of the Texans beat up the number 2 runshing defense of the the Falcons!! Foster ran for 100 yards and Johnson had 97 yards receiving before he got hurt. Kubiak said he didn’t think Johnson’s hamstring is as severe as is earlier hamstring injury. Hopefully Texans will get Johnson back during the regular season. Big win for the Texans!!

  14. lilrob10201 says: Dec 4, 2011 5:55 PM

    Texans right now are the NFL’s most underrated team.You see them defeat a decent Falcon’s team with their 3rd string QB.Im telling you if these Texans could stay healthy for one season then they got a very good shot at a superbowl title.

  15. rockbottom37 says: Dec 4, 2011 5:59 PM

    the Saints-Lions game will be alot closer then most people think!

  16. texansarenumber1 says: Dec 4, 2011 6:49 PM

    lilrob10201 says:Dec 4, 2011 5:55 PM

    Texans right now are the NFL’s most underrated team.You see them defeat a decent Falcon’s team with their 3rd string QB.Im telling you if these Texans could stay healthy for one season then they got a very good shot at a superbowl title.
    _________________________________

    i agree with you….if you ask anyone who are the top teams in the afc they will either say pats, ravens, or steelers….but do you think that any of those teams could win without there qbs…umm no just look what happenned to the colts…texans deserve way more credit for beating a good team with a third string qb

  17. gmacc85 says: Dec 5, 2011 12:41 AM

    Has a cowboy fan 1st…Im so glad texans are playing so good or I would be as depressed as a eagles fan!

  18. broncobillie says: Dec 5, 2011 12:59 AM

    Wade Phillips has made a huge difference and seems to get very little of the credit. Last year the Texan defense got pushed around and they had to rely on the offense to outscore their opponents. This year, even with Mario Williams out, that has changed significantly.

    Texans fans ought to thank Jason Garrett for getting Philips fired in Dallas. Who’s the better Texas team now? Could it be the one with two ex-Bronco coaches?:)

  19. djaehne says: Dec 5, 2011 3:12 AM

    Great first game start for TJ. Kid has poise.
    Cincy will be a very good test for him, being
    on the road. AJ should be back by the playoffs.
    Might as well win out and get a first round bye.
    Biggest challenge will be holding on to that
    number 1 ranking in defense. Rushing and
    great defense equals long playoff runs.

  20. dwayston says: Dec 5, 2011 3:48 AM

    Ravens hold that 2nd seed where they belong. texans ain’t ready. They’ll get bumped in the 1st round.

  21. packerstexansfan says: Dec 5, 2011 10:40 AM

    No mention of that phantom fumble that the refs called an interception? He was obviously motioning forward as Yates got hit. Overall, Yates did exactly what was asked if him. Minimized mistakes, and showed he was enough of a threat with his arm so that they didn’t stack the box against Foster

  22. paulitik74 says: Dec 5, 2011 10:53 AM

    Considering TJ Yates had 2 turnovers run back for TDs called back for stupid penalties, I wouldn’t crown him yet. he definitely played admirably, but this game was more of a case of the Falcons shooting themselves in the foot, than some dominant Texans victory. The fact is, if idiot Dunta Robinson could cover without committing a penalty,and Julio and Roddy could catch the ball, this could have been a blowout. That said, shoulda, woulda, coulda. The Texans D is fantastic, and Yates has potential. Congrats to the Texans.

  23. CKL says: Dec 5, 2011 11:49 AM

    Rick Smith and Kubiak know how to build a team that can win without it’s starting QB because they built a good T-E-A-M and don’t let their QB dictate everything from practice reps to playcalls.

    Seems to me that this intra division example alone is the biggest case for Irsay firing Polian.

    Texans are a pleasure to watch, good solid football always is.

  24. packerstexansfan says: Dec 5, 2011 12:07 PM

    paulitik74 says:
    Dec 5, 2011 10:53 AM

    Considering TJ Yates had 2 turnovers run back for TDs called back for stupid penalties, I wouldn’t crown him yet. he definitely played admirably, but this game was more of a case of the Falcons shooting themselves in the foot, than some dominant Texans victory. The fact is, if idiot Dunta Robinson could cover without committing a penalty,and Julio and Roddy could catch the ball, this could have been a blowout. That said, shoulda, woulda, coulda. The Texans D is fantastic, and Yates has potential. Congrats to the Texans.

    The same could be said about Jackson (our #2 CB) and I wasn’t able to watch the whole game, but I know our receivers have a tendency to not hold on to the ball too, but unsure if it was a big issue this game.

  25. roddytorock84 says: Dec 5, 2011 2:29 PM

    Although there is no excuse for atlantas O, the D was playin with out 2 of there top 3 corners this game. The 4th CB never plays cuz he is terrible. They play nickle before that guy comes in the game. Being said that, he was our starter Sunday. All the dumb penalties killed us. Especially the 2 that called back TDs. Yates played a decent game against a bad secondary. after andre went out and he got hit he didn’t play the same. Also the run defense got tired cuz ATL O couldn’t sustain a drive. Foster had like 40 yards in the first half. Most his yards came on the game winning drive when atl was tired. The pick that got called back was on that drive

  26. momentumtech says: Dec 6, 2011 5:01 AM

    Great game for the Texans with the third string QB. The Texans are a very talented team and have made major strides on defense with Wade Phillips. And their offensive line is pretty solid too after being terrible in pass protection for a really, really long time.

    In the past the Texans seemed to lose a lot of games at the end with turnovers or just outsmarting themselves with trick plays that backfired. Also their defense had been very inconsistent. But this year they are really getting after the QB now and will be a tough team to beat if they can get Schaub back.

  27. ilovefoolsball says: Dec 6, 2011 10:15 AM

    The Falcons suck.

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