Texans' Team Effort Breaks the 9 Game Winning Streak

In many Texan losses it is not difficult to pick out the culprit. It is usually an offense that turns the ball over or settles for FGs when TDs are needed. Or it is a porous defense that can't get off the field or gives up first downs and touchdowns in the clutch.

After Sunday's loss to the Colts, 24-21 at NRG Stadium there should not have been too many pointed fingers at the defensive unit by the offense or vice versa. There was plenty of blame to spread for bad plays made and good plays not made in this tight, tough loss.

Some observations:

  • A week after giving up 397 yards to Baker Mayfield, the Texans defense two upped that by allowing 399 yards passing to Andrew Luck.
  • After allowing T.Y. Hilton to go for 115 yds on 4 receptions in about a 1/2 game the first time out, the defense went the whole Monty here as they let him roam free for 9 receptions on 12 targets and 199 yds on Sunday.
  • The defense was stout against the run as they only gave up 50 yds on 23 attempts. Unfortunately, that only reinforced the need for Luck to further shred them
  • The dumb, dumb, dumb encroachment by Jadeveon Clowney that gave the Colts the first down that iced the game will not be forgotten soon. Of course there was no guarantee that the Texans were going to stop the Colts without that penalty or that if they got the ball back they were going to score.
  • But the key part of the game, may well have been near the end of the first half with the Colts up 14-7. The Texans had the ball and Watson had run for a first down to the 37 yard line with 2:26 left in the half. Denico Autry who spent as much time in the Texans' backfield as Lamar Miller this game, crashed through for a sack, putting the good guys in a hole from which they could not dig out. The Colts took over at their 11 yard line with 1:14 left and were able to run 9 plays (could the Texans ever run 9 plays in 1:14?) and moved it close enough for 81 year old (slight exaggeration) Adam Vinatieri to drill a 54 yard FG that never got more than 20 feet off the ground. The Texans had a chance to cut into the 7 point lead, but instead allowed the Colts to move quickly to a FG that ended up being the difference in the game.
  • The Texans were anemic in the run game this day with 89 yards in 25 attempts. If you take away Deshaun Watson's run for your life 35 yards rushing, the guys who make a living running the ball cashed in on 54 yards on 20 carries. Scattered in that 2.7 yard/carry mark were 7 carries for 0, -3, -3, -4, 0, -1, -2 yards. Some of these were the equivalent of starting off a series with a sack.
  • Speaking of which, the Texans' o-line made up for the lack of a running game by allowing 5 sacks. Yes, Watson is responsible for some of the sacks by holding the ball too long, but anyone watching this game realized that Watson also did a Houdini to avoid another 4 or 5 sacks along the way - so let's call it even.
  • In the first game against the Colts, the Texans' pair of speedy receivers, Will Fuller (4 catches for 49 yds and a TD) and Keke Coutee (11 catches for 109 yds) opened up the field for DeAndre Hopkins (10 catches for 169 yds and a TD). In this game, Fuller is out for the year and Coutee is apparently on the hamstring transplant list as he missed another game. The only other receiver with speed was DeAndre Carter, who went out early with a concussion. Hopkins still grabbed a TD while being double teamed most of the game, but Watson had to work with 3rd string QB Joe Webb at receiver for a big chunk of the game.
  • Watson still managed to put up a good throwing game with 27 for 38 and 267 yards. But they had too many series where they had to make up for negative plays (negative rushing attempts, sacks, penalties).
  • Alfred Blue had a 3 yard TD run that was reminiscent of the old Electric Football game from the 1970's where he and his blockers very slowly nudged forward and eventually broke the plane of the end zone.
  • The defense started the game well. They stopped the Colts the first 5 times they touched the ball including a second Andre Hal interception in two weeks. But in the last 7 minutes of the first half they allowed the Colts to drive 90 yards and 66 yards for TDs and then move 53 yards to set up the Vinatieri FG.
  • They then allowed a 75 yard drive for TD the first time the Colts touched the ball in the 2nd half - which accounted for all 24 points the Colts needed this day in 4 consecutive drives. They then stopped them on two drives before the Clowney first down gift allowed the Colts to move to the Victory formation.
  • One of the Texan offense's biggest failures came in a drive that spanned the 3rd and 4th quarters when they had a 1st down at the Indy 36. After a -2 yd run by Blue, a pass for no game to Demaryius Thomas and a bad pass by Watson that missed Miller, they decided to punt instead of trying a 56 yd FG. That failure came back to haunt them in a game lost by 3 points.
  • The Texans did win the turnover battle in this game 1-0, but the one TO did not flip the field, though it prevented a possible FG.
  • Christian Covington and J.J. Watt both had sacks in this game, but they will be haunted by a number of near misses including one by Clowney where Luck picked up 13 yards and a first down on a scramble.
This was a game that was a typical Texan loss after nine non-typical wins in a row. They were a play or two away all day it seemed. They could not overcome their negative plays to put together enough scoring drives and their defense could not get off the field on those four consecutive scoring drives by Andrew Luck and the Colts. Some folks might complain about the play calling, but when your run game is not working, you are not going to look good no matter what you call.

The team needs to overcome this setback and get back on the winning track against the Jets next Saturday in NYC.