What We Saw: Week 13

Diontae Johnson saved the Steelers' season with his two 4th quarter TD receptions

Colts @ Texans

Final Score: Colts 31, Texans 0

Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

 

“We got outcoached and outplayed,” Houston Texans Head Coach David Culley said after his team were demolished by the dominant Indianapolis Colts, who were many levels above their opponents in all aspects of the game. It’s a familiar storyline for this dreadful Houston team, who once again looked like an unprofessional, ramshackle unit fielding journeymen and unheralded undrafted free agents across both sides of the ball.

Running out 31-0 winners and shutting down an abysmal Houston offense, Frank Reich‘s Colts pounded the Texans down with the running of the indomitable Jonathan Taylor, who added another two touchdowns on the ground to go along with 143 yards to extend his lead atop the NFL’s rushing leaderboard. Taylor tied the franchise record for the most rushing scores in a season with the great Lenny Moore.

 

 

The writing was on the wall for the Texans on the very first play of the game, with Tyrod Taylor throwing an interception near the sideline –ย  Kenny Moore making a terrific play to take the ball away in front of Davion Davis.

 

 

The Colts restricted the Texans to a measly 48 total yards at halftime, sacking Taylor twice and coming up with two takeaways. The slaughter continued after the break with Taylor finally being benched in the third quarter for Davis Mills, who of course fared no better. To be fair, with that offensive line, he didn’t stand a chance.

 

 

Carson Wentz had a quiet night under center, but when he was asked to step up and make a throw he did, connecting with young Ashton Dulin for a touchdown for the second consecutive week. Wentz only threw for 158 yards as the Colts built up a formidable 21-0 score lead after the first drive of the second half. After that, there was only one strategy…

 

 

Indianapolis Colts

 

Quarterback

 

Carson Wentz: 16/22, 158 yards, TD, Sack | 3 carries, 8 yards

Sam Ehlinger: 1 carry, -1 yards

 

Quietly going about his business, Carson Wentz was happy for the spotlight to shine elsewhere as he took a backseat to Jonathan Taylor once again. Throwing only 22 passing attempts, his third-lowest of the season, Wentz totaled just four completions beyond 10 yards as the game script quickly pivoted to the run game after two Texans turnovers in the third quarter. This was not what fantasy managers who streamed Wentz on a difficult week for quarterbacks across the league wanted.

His lone touchdown pass came just before the half โ€“ benefitting from excellent field position once again, Wentz was given the green light to throw from the Houston 2-yard line after Taylor broke off a big 15-yard run. Sensing a rare opportunity to throw for a score, Wentz fired a beautiful pass from the back foot as he moved to his right, hitting a diving Ashton Dulin in the back of the end zone, the third-year undrafted free agent doing brilliantly to keep both feet inbounds as he completed the catch.

 

 

Wentz only attempted six passing attempts after the Colts scored on their first drive of the second half, limiting his fantasy potential as the game script turned heavily towards running the clock out against an insipid Texans outfit.

 

Running Back

 

Jonathan Taylor: 32 carries, 143 yards, 2 TD, Fumble (Lost)

Nyheim Hines: 3 carries, 24 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 32 yards

Deon Jackson: 6 carries, 19 yards, TD

 

Jonathan Taylor stepped up his campaign for the league MVP with another fantastic display on the ground to catapult this Colts offense into action. Taylor was on point from the start, polishing off a 6-play, 29-yard scoring drive with a goal line run after the Texans’ turnover on the first play of the game.

 

 

Taylor was used heavily straight up the gut and although the Texans were ready for him, he still balled out. His longest carry was only 16 yards but he averaged a healthy 4.4 yards per carry. He decided the right side of the offensive line, boasting after that first score, needed to be put in its place so instead ran to the left side for his second trip into the end zone. Now all his offensive linemen can feel good about themselves. A great team always has balance.

 

 

It wasn’t a perfect day for Taylor, who did cough the ball up late in the game to hand the ball back to the Texans. Not that it mattered. The first team offense was removed after this drive to give the backups a run for the final few minutes.

 

 

Step in undrafted rookie running back Deon Jackson out of Duke, who took the ball to the house on his very first drive of his professional career. A nice moment for the young man and a cherry on top of the performance for this Colts squad.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Michael Pittman Jr.: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 77 yards | 2 carries, 33 yards

T.Y. Hilton: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards

Jack Doyle: 1 target, 1 reception, 13 yards

Zach Pascal: 3 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards

Kylen Granson: 2 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards

Ashton Dulin: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards, TD

Mo Alie-Cox: 1 target, 1 reception, 0 yards

 

With a meager 158 yards to be shared around, standout receiver Michael Pittman Jr. accounted for the majority of them after another all-around performance that highlighted his growing development. His main contribution came on the touchdown drive to open the second half โ€“ the former USC receiver going up to haul in this 17-yard catch on first down to move the ball into Texans territory.

 

 

This receiving corps has plenty of talent, and it is always nice to see legendary Colt T.Y. Hilton showing us he still has what it takes to be an important piece in this offense. The downside of this run-first offense, however, is that guys like Hilton, Dulin and the tight ends are feeding off scraps and are completely touchdown-dependent for fantasy purposes, as shown in this game.

 

 

Houston Texans

 

Quarterback

 

Davis Mills: 6/14, 49 yards, 2 sacks | 2 carries, 11 yards

Tyrod Taylor: 5/13, 45 yards, INT, 2 sacks | 3 carries, 15 yards

 

This is by far and away the worst offensive performance I have seen from any team this season. With a complete lack of talent on the roster, a horrendous offensive line, and the most cowardly play calling one could imagine, Tyrod Taylor was set up to fail from the off. After the turnover of the first play, Taylor could only watch as his inexperienced receivers bobbled and fumbled their way through the first half. You have to say, however, that is exactly what you deserved when you make trying to dink and dunk your primary offense.

 

 

Taylor couldn’t move the sticks through the air and was clearly unwilling to fight for yardage on the ground due to his fragile body health. Taylor managed the offense through six straight punts after the two turnovers, finally being put out of his misery by a wrist injury after the Texans went down three scores after the half.

Davis Mills, a third-round pick let us not forget, took over and looked unprepared, disinterested and showed no command of the offense whatsoever. He was called for intentional ground on this third down play and I am pretty sure he just closed his eyes and threw it without knowledge of where it would land or who might be there. Embarrassing.

 

 

Running Back

 

Rex Burkhead: 8 carries, 30 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 15 yards

Royce Freeman: 3 carries, 10 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards

Jaylen Samuels: 2 carries, 2 yards | 1 target

 

This running back room is the island of lost souls. Former Bengals and Patriots running back Rex Burkhead once again led the backfield, which quickly found itself in a hole at the end of the first quarter. Burkhead converted on a short pass on third down on the Texans’ second drive for 15 yards before the fumble on the very next play. Inexplicably, Offensive Coordinator Tim Kellyย then started to mix in Royce Freeman and Jaylen Samuels.

The Texans only called six run plays the entire second half. Grim.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Brandin Cooks: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 38 yards | 1 carry, 16 yards

Pharoah Brown: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 23 yards

Brevin Jordan: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards

Chris Conley: 4 targets

Davion Davis: 2ย targets

Nico Collins: 1 target

 

Poor Brandin Cooks, the only diamond in a box of rocks. Forgotten at the trade deadline, Cooks will finish this season on this roster wasting away. He provided the only play worthy of note in the entire game for the Texans from a positive point of view โ€“ Cooks took an end-around for 16 yards for a rare Texans first down, one of only nine in the entire contest.

 

 

In all honesty, I thought about writing “no comment” for this section as that is what actually needs to be said about this horrific professional football team at this point. But I didn’t, and I thank you (the loyal reader who actually got to this blurb) for taking the time to read this as really this offense doesn’t deserve your interest.

 

Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

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