Just Texas Toast: Rams falls short against Houston
By Jim Thomas
Saturday, Aug. 19 2006
Eight first downs, 177 yards, and two field goals. Midway through the 2006
preseason, that's the production for the St. Louis offense in five possessions.
Three possessions Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome produced only one field
goal -- a 32-yarder by Remy Hamilton -- against the Houston Texans. Marc Bulger
completed seven of 13 passes for 86 yards, and was sacked once. But the running
game, so impressive in the preseason opener against Indianapolis, stalled in
the first half Saturday as the Rams lost 27-20 to Texans Saturday night at the
Edward Jones Dome.
Steven Jackson managed only 10 yards on four carries against the Texans, before
the Rams' starting unit called it a day after one quarter.
The Rams' only scoring drive by the starters featured two big plays but little
else. Torry Holt caught an 18-yard pass from Bulger on first play of the drive,
then had the ball poked loose from behind by Phillip Buchanon. But hustling
rookie tight end Joe Klopfenstein fell on the loose ball 10 yards downfield,
giving St. Louis a first down on the Houston 38.
On second and 10, Bulger hit a wide-open Aaron Walker over the middle. Walker,
who has moved ahead of Dominique Byrd to claim the No. 2 spot at tight end on
the depth chart, rumbled to the Texans' 13.
But the next three plays resulted in a net loss of one yard, leading to
Hamilton's field goal. The Rams are zero for two in the red zone this
preseason, with no touchdowns and two field goals.
The Rams' starting defensive unit was much more effective, keeping the Texans
off the scoreboard in four possessions, the last of which took them into the
second quarter. During this stretch, Houston made it into St. Louis territory
only once, on a drive that included a 21 pass completion from David Carr to
tight end Jeb Putzier and a 20-yard run by Wali Lundy.
But the St. Louis defense stiffened in the red zone, and Kris Brown's 37-yard
field goal missed wide left. Coordinator Jim Haslett showed once again that
vanilla no longer is the flavor of the St. Louis defense. Linebacker Pisa
Tinoisamoa spoiled Houston's first possession with a 14-yard sack of Carr. And
strong safety Corey Chavous appeared to have forced a fumble with a sack of
Carr on the Texans' next possession.
But Houston challenged the play via instant replay and the call was overturned.
It was ruled that Carr's arm was going forward, making it an incomplete pass.
While St. Louis' starters were done early, new Houston coach Gary Kubiak kept
in his starters -- offense and defense -- through the first half. That helped
Houston tack on a touchdown and a field goal for a 10-3 halftime lead.
St. Louis finally crossed the end zone in the third quarter. Twice in fact,
with pass interference calls against Buchanon, the Houston cornerback, looming
large in both drives. A 27-yard pass interference call against Buchanon,
attempting to cover Dominque Thompson, set up the first touchdown, a four-yard
pass from No. 2 quarterback Gus Frerotte to Shaun McDonald.
Later in the quarter, with Dave Ragone at quarterback, Buchanon was flagged for
mauling McDonald in the end zone. The 22-yard penalty put the ball at the 1,
and Fred Russell scored a touchdown on the next play.
But Houston kept scoring against the Rams' reserves. Another field goal by
Brown, plus long TDs by Vernand Morency (a 43-yard run) and Derrick Lewis (a
44-yard reception), gave the Texans a 27-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.