Bills vs. Texans Take 2: Houston out-Talents Buffalo

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyContributor IDecember 23, 2016

Nov 4, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) runs the ball past Buffalo Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin (21) in the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium. The Texans defeated the Bills 21-9. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Football is fun when you have talent.

The Houston Texans learned that lesson against the Buffalo Bills, beating them 21-9 in Houston in Week 9.

A second look at the film tells the story of the seventh Texans win of the year.


The Real Story

While the Bills were well-prepared for the Texans, Houston simply had better skill players.

The game was close throughout, but it never felt as if the Texans were in danger of losing.

Essentially, the final score boiled down to the Bills kicking three field goals, while the Texans scored three touchdowns. That may sound obvious, but it speaks to the difference between the two teams.

Houston got consistent play from the likes of Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, especially inside the Bills' 30-yard line, and that led to difference-making touchdowns.

While the Bills had some dynamic plays in the middle of the field, when they got in close, they simply couldn't execute. Buffalo put up minus-eight yards in two red zone appearances.

Houston converted two red-zone trips in to touchdowns.

Matt Schaub wasn't sharp despite a strong numbers day. His passes were just a little off all day, but he had Johnson on his side, who made catches on imperfect throws and posted a string of big plays.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, got little help from his wideouts and tight ends. The Bills routinely dropped make-able plays.

Houston didn't out-scheme or out work the Bills. It was just the better team.

In a game with few surprises, that was more than enough to pull out the win.


The J.J. Watt Memorial Heroes Award 

Arian Foster was his typical excellent self, but that was to be expected given how terrible the Buffalo run defense is.

Johnson was the real star of the day. On the final two Texans' scoring drives, he posted at least 30 yards receiving to move the team into position.



There were no real goats on the day for the Texans. As mentioned, Schaub wasn't sharp. He converted just two third-down passes, both to Johnson. Had his game been more crisp, the final score could have featured a wider margin.

This is just a small complaint, of course. Calling Schaub a goat for a solid performance in a win is almost tongue-in-cheek.


Secret Play

With 44 seconds to play in the first quarter, Schaub hit Owen Daniels for a 39-yard touchdown on a classic bootleg, play-action throwback.

What people may not realize is that the Texans ran the same exact play three snaps earlier. The formation was different, but Schaub executed the same action, and the Bills bit in the same exact way.

This time, the open receiver was Kevin Walter, who picked up 18 yards.

What's amazing is how shocked Buffalo seemed to be. Obviously, the play is a staple of the Texans offense, but the actual play action itself is so deceptive as to belie detection even when the opponent is prepared for it.

The throw to Walter worked so well, the Texans went right back to it. Once again, the Bills were confused, and Daniels went in for the go-ahead score.


Coaching Notes

Gary Kubiak wasn't faced with any difficult decisions against Buffalo.

He deserves credit for not allowing his team to fall victim to a trap game. They performed professionally and looked every bit like the superior squad, committing few of the kind of plays that breed upsets.

Other than a few penalties (seven, but for only 42 yards), the Texans simply did their jobs.

That's a mark of good coaching.


Keep an Eye On...

All eyes will be on Soldier Field in Week 10 as the best team in each conference meet. The Bears and Texans may not have the best records in football, but it's not a stretch to rate both teams higher than the Falcons.

Houston will have a difficult time passing or running on Chicago. This may be a test of its true offensive capability.

Andre Johnson came to the rescue against the Bills and will have to do so next week as well.

Houston doesn't play another team with a winning record until December 10, and if it beats the Bears, it may already have the AFC sewn up by that date.


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