Tafoya's Notebook: Week 9 - NBC Sports

Tafoya's Notebook: Week 9
November 4, 2013, 3:45 pm


Indianapolis (6-2) at Houston (2-6)

Michele Tafoya






       Of all the things that happened on this Sunday night, no story was bigger than that of head coach Gary Kubiak's collapse at halftime.


       We see many injuries in the NFL, but few are as frightening as what we witnessed Sunday night when Kubiak had to be taken off the field on a gurney.


       Before he was carted off, Kubiak appeared to be in great discomfort.  I never saw him open his eyes.  His eyelids were shut tight as he lay on the ground and even as he tried to sit up.  He was, however, able to communicate with the medical personnel around him.


       After several minutes it was determined the coach could not make it off the field unassisted.  He was taken to an ambulance and, accompanied by family members, driven to nearby Methodist Hospital.


       The Texans stated that Kubiak never lost consciousness and that he did not have a heart attack.


       Outside of that, there was very little information to be had during the remainder of the game, and as of this writing there is no update from the Texans.


       After the game Houston GM Rick Smith told me that Kubiak was communicative at the hospital and that his vital signs were stable.  Smith said there was even a possibility that Kubiak would be back at work Monday morning.





       After beating Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Indianapolis two weeks ago, Vontae Davis shocked me a bit in our post-game interview when he said, "We prepared all week for Tom Brady." 

       Davis' misstatement went viral.  When I spoke with the cornerback on Friday he told me his teammates -- and even his fiancee, Megan -- ribbed him relentlessly.  So Davis tweeted out a picture of the game ball we gave him with the words, "After the bye week, back to prepping for Tom Brady and the Texans," (hashtag, "Still respect Peyton.")  Kudos to Davis for his sense of humor about it.



       Houston running-backs coach Chick Harris told me in his 33-years of coaching he had never had to go to his THIRD-string RB --- until 2 weeks ago in Kansas City. 

       With Arian Foster (hamstring) and Ben Tate (four broken ribs) both injured, Harris turned to FB Greg Jones.  Kubiak was asking, "Can he run a play?" as Harris was drawing up basic plays in the dirt for the fullback.

       Cut to last Monday, when rookies Dennis Johnson, Ray Graham and 4th year player Deji Karim arrived in Houston.  All were in training camp with the Texans at some point, so they were familiar with Houston's offense.  

       Still, Harris spent all Monday and Tuesday -- the off-day -- getting them ready to play.  Of the three newcomers only Johnson was active Sunday night, and he did see some time (8 carries for 36 yards).

       Foster left the game early in the first quarter with a lower back injury.

       Tate played with protective gear over his broken ribs, for which he was to have a pain-killing injection before the game.  He led the team in rushing with 81 yards on 22 carries.






       Tate told me when he got hit by Dontari Poe in Kansas City, he thought he simply had the wind knocked out of him.  But after trying to return to the game, Tate realized it was something worse.  He had broken four ribs, making it painful to drive a car or even sleep. 

       After the bye week was feeling significantly better, though he said there is still some pain.  Tate told me doctors assured him there was only a small chance that playing Sunday night could make his injury worse.  He lasted the entire game.




       Texans LT Duane Brown told me Robert Mathis is an "extremely tough" player to match-up against, but he was looking forward to the challenge. 

       Brown said what makes the Colts' defensive stalwart unique is his wide variety of pass rush moves and and a motor that won't quit.  Brown said Mathis is one of those players you circle your calendar for, watch a lot of film on, and be ready to take on every single down.  "Mathis doesn't say much," Brown told me, "he just plays very hard."

       Mathis did not have a sack in Houston Sunday night.  Credit Brown.




       Case Keenum has been impressing his veteran teammates with his huddle presence.  According to Chris Myers, Keenum makes eye contact with everyone in the huddle.  Duane Brown called Keenum "a natural born leader" who "comes into the huddle, demands attention, is very loud -- but very fun."  And Brown added that  Keenum's attitude and demeanor has changed the spirit of the offense for the better.  That was clear throughout the first half of Sunday Night's game.




       No single player on the Colts' roster can replace Reggie Wayne.  The 13 year vet provided leadership that no one else on the receiving corps can deliver.

       On Sunday night, T.Y. Hilton elevated his status with three touchdown receptions in the second half, leading the Colts to a come-from-behind victory.

       But the Colts will need more from Darrius Heyward-Bey.  The former Raider has a reputation for not having reliable hands, but he's been putting in the work to change that.  He told me he catches 100-150 balls off the the jugs machine every day.  He said, "It's a routine I started my second year.  I have good hands -- I know that.  So I make it a routine to focus on the point of the ball." 

       And he said  "Repetition is key.  The more balls you catch, the more it will happen in the game."

       Heyward-Bey had just one catch for 11 yards against the Texans.  


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