The Monday Night Football win over the Cincinnati Bengals provided enough memorable moments to fill an entire NFL Films reel. The one thing, though, that stood out more than anything else was the fact that it was truly a TEAM win.
Everyone will talk about DeAndre Hopkins' magnificent one hand grab from T.J. Yates for the game winning touchdown. The Texans' defensive performance was one of the best in recent memory, especially so given the struggles of that unit earlier this year.
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But, what not many people talked about after the win was the performance of the special teams, in particular the coverage units. In fact, the past few weeks, the cover units have been outstanding and they truly gave the Texans a clear advantage in the second half, in particular. The Bengals didn't start a drive beyond the Cincinnati 25-yard line for the last three quarters.
In fact, the average starting position for the Bengals in the second half was inside their 15-yard line.
Shane Lechler was tremendous and Nick Novak pinned kickoffs deep into the corners, but the ten guys flying down the field took pride in providing the defense with a significant field position advantage and a spark.
This is the first kickoff of the night. Take a look at No. 52 Brian Peters. He's lined up at R3, third position from the sideline, on the right side of the kickoff formation.
Peters sprinted down the field and he wasn't the only one. But, we'll focus on Peters.
The first Bengals blocker made contact with Peters but didn't slow him down.
Then, TWO Bengals spied Peters and got hats on him. They, too, couldn't stop him as Peters ran through those them as well.
A fourth Bengal blocker made contact with Peters but he also couldn't stop him.
Ultimately, Peters made the tackle, with some help from Kurtis Drummond, who slowed down Adam Jones on the return. In the end, Peters pinballed between, and ran through, FOUR different Bengals blockers and made the tackle inside the 20-yard line.
That hasn't happened in a while around here and it was such a great sight.
Later in the first quarter, Lechler was backed into his end zone on his second punt of the night. On this play, let's focus on Max Bullough.
As the ball was punted, Bullough and the rest of the punt coverage team flew down the field.
Justin Tuggle made first contact on Jones, but Bullough delivered the message.
Once Bullough was done with Jones, he ended up going backwards. I saw the stick from the opposite sideline, but most importantly, I heard the crack through my headphones. How many times had Jones, as a member of the Tennessee Titans years ago, embarrassed the Texans on returns in the past? Bullough saw to it that not only was it not going to happen, the Texans would reduce Jones to a non-factor on his returns.
But, the hit of the night belonged to Akeem Dent. It happened on the last kickoff of the game, just following Hopkins' game clinching catch in the fourth quarter. He lined up in the L2 spot, second from the sideline on the left side.
Dent flew down the field and was left unblocked.
For some reason, not one of the four Bengals in this picture turned to block Dent. So, the Texan was one-on-one with one of the fastest return men in the league.
Dent laid the wood on Jones, one of the best, LEGAL, hits I can remember seeing in quite some time. I think I was more charged up after that hit than DeAndre's catch. Oh and how important was it? Starting field position? Cincinnati 12-yard line. Not to mention, the defense coming onto the field at that moment went nuts seeing that hit and fed off of that, producing another three and out.
There's been so much talk over the past three or four years about the lack of above average special teams in Houston. So, I needed to point out one of the best performances we've seen in quite some time. Against Tennessee, Bob Ligashesky's units forced a fumble that turned into points but they played even better on Monday Night against Cincinnati.
To have another team win on Sunday, these units need to shine yet again.