Vandermeer's View: That's more like it


Following a highly forgettable October with two losses in which the Texans fell behind by more than 40 points, Houston bounced back to start a month they hope takes them to the top of the division.

It was crucial for the Texans to come out firing on defense and they did. Yes Tennessee led early with a drive-salvaging field goal but they added only one more all day as the Texans pass rush hammered its way to a team record-tying seven sacks.

And even though the offense had issues running the ball, Brian Hoyer and his receivers rung up two touchdowns, playing clean and making some big plays against the number four defense in the NFL.

Now, here comes the bye.

Houston needs to heal some wounds and do a healthy 'self-scout' to determine the reasons it's so difficult to run the ball. At the season's clubhouse turn, the only game in which the ground game clicked the way Bill O'Brien wants was against Tampa Bay four weeks ago. Other than that, rushing yards have been hard to come by, Arian Foster or not.

We knew the defense was better than what they showed against Miami and Atlanta and they proved it against the Titans. Not that Tennessee is to be confused with the Patriots but it was refreshing to see the Texans apply a truckload of pressure and play with a lead.

Kevin Johnson started in place of Kareem Jackson and had his first pick. And Whitney Mercilus filled in for a departed Jadeveon Clowney and put up three and a half sacks. That's 5 ½ sacks in two games for Mercilus when he fills in for Clowney (Jacksonville and Tennessee). The coaches will undoubtedly work on ways to utilize his skills better.

The next test is a Monday night matchup in Cincinnati. Andy Dalton and friends are undefeated and the memory is fresh from the defeat Houston had at home to the Bengals last year. Brian Hoyer had a good game at Paul Brown Stadium last season as a member of the Browns in a prime time game.

He'll need another one now and the Houston defense will get all it can handle.

We like talking about the opportunity to win a struggling AFC South. But at some point the Texans have to start beating the good teams if they are going to truly take advantage of the situation. We're halfway to the finish and there are still more questions than answers. But the chase is on and a division crown is up for grabs.

Check out the best photos from Sunday's game against the Titans.

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