This is the space that I typically reserve to tell some story about the game on Sunday before telling you it's time for observations. But, well...uh, I've got nothing. Here are a few observations.
- First and foremost, there really aren't a ton of positives from Sunday and I really didn't have much to write about here. I threw my notebook away in the second quarter, so someone in U.S Bank Stadium could have all of my notes from the 2016 season to this point. They may not like the words I used to describe the first half of the game yesterday, though.
- Jadeveon Clowney was outstanding, amongst the bad of the day. He had four tackles for a loss and showed the explosiveness that we all knew he had when he was drafted in 2014.
- What stood out more, though, was his speed to power conversion, play after play after play. He burst into the backfield a couple of times before a Vikings offensive lineman could get a hat on him. On one of his tackles for a loss, he drilled a Vikings lineman, drove him back a yard, shed him and tackled Jerick McKinnon for a three-yard loss. That happened right in front of me and it was one of the most physically impressive things I've seen.
- Whitney Mercilus was the other truly bright spot on the day. He had a sack and a half, sharing a sack with 'The Ninja', Antonio Smith, and had a tackle for a loss and hit Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford five times. Mercilus also drew a hands to the face penalty on left tackle T.J. Clemmings that negated a big gain down the field. Mercilus continued his outstanding progress into a potential Pro Bowl edge player in the AFC.
- Bradford will be sore this morning because he took some shots. But, he was brilliant on the day. He took what the Texans gave him and his receivers were open, wide open, especially in the first 15 minutes of play. It got a little tougher over the last three quarters, but he still found Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson and anyone else in purple, way too often.
- That building was the loudest visiting building I've ever been in. Lucas Oil Stadium doesn't hold a candle to it. Not even close. And, the Skol chant? I've got to admit that was cool. Loud, but cool.
- Texans left tackle Duane Brown held up as well as expected. He was on a play count so he didn't play every single snap, but for a guy that hadn't played a real snap of football in nine plus months, he did a "decent" job. That was his word after the game to describe his overall play. He got beat once by Everson Griffen with a spin move, but he rebounded and wheeled back around to keep Griffen from the sack. We'll see when he's able to play 100 percent of the snaps, but, again, it was a decent start.
- The offensive line was not good. The Minnesota Vikings defensive front is really good. One does not beget the other. Yesterday, it was a confluence of both, unfortunately.
- One of the most important plays of the day was in the first half on 3rd-and-five with the Vikings ahead 14-0. The Texans had their best field position of the day (started at the Vikings 38-yard line) and gained five yards with the first two plays of the drive. On the third-down play, Ryan Griffin was as open as any Texans pass catcher was all day long, just past the first down marker. But, Brock Osweiler's pass fell two feet short of Griffin. On the following fourth down, Nick Novak's field goal missed wide right and the Vikings took over at their own 41-yard line. A field goal at the end of that drive gave the Vikings 17-0 lead.
- Why was that so important? If the Texans could just score after getting a stout stop on the Vikings drive prior to that one, worst case, it would've been 14-3 or even 14-7. NOW, it's a ball game. It never got there. Unfortunately.
- If Vikings safety Harrison Smith isn't the best safety in the league, he's in the top three. I love to watch that guy play. He was a difference maker from jump. Luckily, his hands failed him on what was a sure pick-six in the first half.
- C.J. Fiedorowicz tacked on four more catches for 61 yards. He made, perhaps, two of the offense's best plays in the gam,e with his twisting, turning catch in the first half and his catch and run in the second half that led to DeAndre Hopkins' touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
There's not much more to add about this one, so I'll cut it short. See ya next week, everyone. Hopefully we'll all have a better feeling about it next Monday at this time.
The Texans got set for the matchup with the Vikings in Minneapolis.