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Houston Texans: Late-game Heroics Save the Day

Houston Texans Use Another Fourth-quarter Comeback to Remain Unbeaten, but Questions Remain and New Ones Have Surfaced

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COMMENTARY | The field-goal-shanking spirit of infamous Houston Oilers kicker Al Del Greco descended upon Reliant Stadium on Sunday.

OK, so Del Greco is still alive. But his terrible kicking aura can still haunt the grounds that share the Astrodome, at least in my opinion.

Texans kicker Randy Bullock missed two field goal tries in the first half and was part of a comedic end of regulation sequence that included four more tries, although he made one (that didn't count) and another hit the goal post.

Bullock made his first attempt from 51-yards look easy, but Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak called a timeout as the ball was snapped.

On the second attempt, the Titans blocked the kick but were called for being several steps offside on the play.

Munchak struck again with a timeout at the last moment on the third try, but he likely regretted the decision since Bullock hooked it left and short.

And, on the fourth and final attempt before overtime, Bullock managed to hit a 45-yarder that started out OK but veered to hit the left post, sending the game to overtime.

The 0-for-3 outing from Bullock makes the rookie 1-for-5 on the season.

Bullock hit 63-for-80 on field goals at Texas A&M and isn't off to great start in Houston.

Del Greco's worst season with the Oilers was in 1996 when he was 32-for-38. In the Oilers first season in Tennessee, Del Greco was even worse going 27-for-35.

For his career in Houston, Del Greco hit 82 percent of his field goals. Bullock was 78 percent in college and is miserable so far as a pro.

Don't be surprised if the Texans have a few more kickers in camp this week for a tryout, lets just hope Del Greco doesn't try coming out of retirement.

Wide receiver corps thinning

The gasp from the crowd when Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson went down in the first half was met with a sigh of relief when he walked away seemingly unscathed.

But, late in the second half Johnson made an impressive catch in double coverage and was hit hard in the head by Titans defensive back Bernard Pollard. The play was reviewed and Johnson awarded the catch, but he was forced to leave the game with concussion symptoms due to league protocol.

Johnson's status is unknown leading up to Sunday's road trip to face the Baltimore Ravens.

Rookie's talent shines through in overtime

The blow of Johnson's injury was cushioned by the emergence of rookie DeAndre Hopkins in overtime. The Clemson alumni impressed throughout preseason and his two catches in overtime sealed the win on Sunday.

Hopkins gave the Texans fanbase optimism as a second-option along with Johnson. But, recovering from concussions is an inexact science, at best, possibly forcing the rookie into the limelight as the top receiving option against a tough Ravens squad.

Running backs learning to share

Ben Tate and Arian Foster appear to have worked out sharing the run-carrying duties. If both can realize the importance of staying fresh and check their egos in the locker room, they have a chance to be a potent one-two combination.

Tate outgained Foster with 93 yards to Foster's 79, but Foster scored a touchdown and well-earned two-point conversion late in the game that showed heart with the extra effort needed to cross the goal line and tie the game.

So far, Tate has 18 carries for 148 yards and Foster has 37 carries for 136 yards.

Injuries have made running backs a dime a dozen in the last 10 years. The duo could extend their careers with a lighter workload, but the mentality of most players dictates a need to be the top guy.

It remains to be seen if Foster and Tate can maintain the delicate balance over a full season.

Scott Joiner (@fbheraldsports) is the sports editor of the Fort Bend Herald in the Greater Houston Area and has covered the Houston Texans for two years and has followed the team since its inception.

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