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Houston Texans: Observations from Week 1

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COMMENTARY | In the first play of Monday's game against the San Diego Chargers, when Matt Schaub threw an interception on a pass deflected at the line of scrimmage, Houston Texans fans likely shared the same sentiment, "Here we go again ..."

San Diego went into halftime with a 21-7 lead on a touchdown with 18 seconds remaining in the second quarter and appeared destined for a blowout win over the Super Bowl aspiring Texans.

The Texans were quickly reminded how much of a pest Dwight Freeney was with the Indianapolis Colts. The veteran was a steady presence in the backfield, which is cause for concern against the elite defenses the Texans will face later in the year.

Why not just call them the Oilers after that start?

Philip Rivers tossed three touchdown passes in the first half, carving up the Texans secondary with precision.

The Chargers' aggressive start to the second half caught the Texans napping and they were quickly in a 28-7 hole.

Rivers linked up with Eddie Royal for his fourth touchdown of the night after driving on the Texans defense with a mix of short routes after a 47-yard pass to Malcom Floyd into double coverage to start the second half.

One of the biggest knocks on the Texans has been the lack of a killer instinct. Time and time again they've failed to put teams away in the past and lost games that cost them first round byes or playoff spots.

To their credit, they rallied in the season opener.

Houston cut the lead to 28-21 by the end of the third quarter, showing a moxy that has been lacking at times. The Texans scored 24 unanswered points to win in the biggest comeback in the team's history.

Passing game finds balance

DeAndre Hopkins and Lestar Jean are starting to look like legitimate second and third options at wide receiver to finally take some of the burden from Andre Johnson.

Garrett Graham adds depth at tight end and could be key to the Texans success with Owen Daniels' history of injuries. Graham and Daniels each caught touchdown passes Monday and will offer reliable options for Matt Schaub.

This defense won't win championships

J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing did their part and the return of Antonio Smith along with Ed Reed, at some point, should shore up the potentially stout unit.

In the second half, Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips made some adjustments and put more pressure on Rivers. Cushing, who had not seen action in a regular season game in 11 months, began to look like his old self as the game progressed. Cushing's first career interception in the fourth quarter was returned for a touchdown to tie the game, 28-28.

As for Smith, local media reports he was waiting on the team in the parking lot when they returned from San Diego. Sounds like a guy anxious to get back on the field and they definitely need him. The Chargers had their way with the Texans' defensive front, which doesn't happen - at least not as much - with Smith in the lineup.

Running back situation could be trouble

Arian Foster and Ben Tate shared carries in the season opener and many would argue that Tate outplayed Foster.

At one point, Tate waived Foster off from a substitution and that didn't appear to sit well with the veteran. With Tate's injury history, the Texans need to make sure Foster gets going and is kept happy with his workload.

Cierre Wood is a quality third option out of Notre Dame, but he's not quite ready for prime time.

Taking the term special teams literally

The additions of Shane Lechler from the Oakland Raiders and Randy Bullock taking over kicking duties have proven wise. Lechler has shown why he's considered the best punter in the league and Bullock was clutch hitting the game-winning field goal as time expired.

The fourth down conversion on a direct snap to Shiloh Keo in the second half for a fake punt was another promising play, and calculated risk by a typically conservative Texans coach Gary Kubiak.

Overall, it wasn't a bad start. Although expectations will be adjusted if the team stumbles out of the gate in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans.

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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