HOUSTON WINNING THE GULF WAR

BY MATTHEW FEIMER

It was a great offensive game in what was the unexpected game of the week. In the end it was the Houston defense that made Houston the last unbeaten team in the league. In the rivalry I’ve called the “Gulf War”, the game was entertaining from start to finish. Houston has now been tested two weeks in a row. The difference after week three is two-fold. One, the Roughnecks have P.J. Walker and you don’t. Two, the Roughnecks make you pay for mistakes.

For the second week in a row the deadly combo of Walker to Cam Phillips continues to tear defenses apart. All three touchdowns passes went to Cam Phillips who had 194 yards receiving. Walker scored another touchdown on a botched snap that went to pay dirt. The Houston offense continues on like a well-oiled machine. Don’t dare make a mistake on offense, the Run n Shoot will make you pay for it.

The Tampa Bay Vipers offense was amazing, going blow for blow with the Roughnecks. They finally scored an offensive touchdown. They scored three to be exact and had the Houston defense scratching their heads. A great crowd of 18k came to the home opener at Raymond James stadium. Not a bad showing for a team that was 0-2 with a punchless offense. The vipers had more plays on offense, a better third and fourth down conversion rate, and were 67% in the red zone.

Tampa used both Taylor Cornelius and Quinton Flowers as Aaron Murray was out with a foot injury. Both quarterbacks did move the team down the field very well. Flowers gave the Vipers their first offensive touchdown this year in the first quarter on a fake handoff that had everyone go left as Flowers went in untouched on the right side. Taylor Cornelius took a quarterback sneak as time ran out in the 1st half and made the two-point conversion.

When you have two quarterbacks playing, it may confuse the defense, but also make it hard for your offense to establish rhythm and an identity. Down seven late in the 4th quarter, Corenelius took the Vipers to the Houston five-yard line. A late goal line stand helped keep Houston in first place in the west division. This is where the two quarterback system hurts. I think Flowers mobility would have been helpful in this area of the field. As a result, Houston took over. The Vipers had one last chance but a Cornelius interception to Demarquis Gates sealed the deal.

The difference was Roughnecks know who their leader is and next week the Vipers will figure out what to do about Aaron Murray. The Vipers will remain home to play the DC Defenders in a division game this week. It is do or die now for Tampa Bay. An 0-4 start and they can start to worry about next year and just finishing out the schedule.

The Houston Roughnecks, now winners of first battle in the ”Gulf War” will stay on the road and go to Dallas for the “Civil War”. To me this is the game of the week. With Landry Jones looking better this week, we also have the Quarterback matchup of the week. A short 10-week season makes every game so important.

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