Texans beat themselves; season spiraling

Texans beat themselves; season spiraling
October 13, 2013, 5:45 pm
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Texans react after blowout loss to Rams

(USA Today Images)

What’s worse than rock bottom?

The Texans found out on Sunday.

Coming into a game many described as a must-win, the Texans were embarrassed 38-13 by the St. Louis Rams in front of the home crowd at Reliant Stadium. They’re now 2-4 heading into next week’s game in Kansas City to face the undefeated Chiefs with the season circling the drain.

“We aren’t playing to our capabilities and that’s very disappointing and frustrating,” linebacker Brian Cushing said. “We come in and work hard and we try to figure this out. For four weeks in a row now, we just haven’t gotten it done. We haven’t gotten close to getting it done.”

After last week’s loss to the 49ers, which several players said felt like rock bottom, the Texans were blown out by the Rams, who took an 11-point lead into the second half and outscored the Texans 21-0 in the third quarter.

The Texans outgained the Rams 420-216. They outgained them in the air. They outgained them on the ground. They moved the ball. They didn’t give up a ton of yards. But they still lost. And that’s been the same story for Houston for several weeks now.

“Aggravated,” said linebacker Brooks Reed. “Confused because we’re just trying to figure out what we have to do to be successful. It’s pretty simple, we just need to prepare better somehow, some way. That’s something we can control.”

The Rams took their first lead – one they never lost – on their second series of the game. The Rams went 65 yards for a touchdown on six plays, the biggest play coming on a 40-yard pass interference call that went against Kareem Jackson – one he disagreed with.

But the Texans had a chance to answer and were driving down the field until DeAndre Hopkins fumbled the ball away in the red zone.

Fumbles and turnovers. Turnovers and fumbles. That’s been the recipe for the 2-4 Texans thus far.

“We turn the ball over, we get penalties, we make mistakes, we beat ourselves,” left guard Wade Smith said. “We move the ball up and down the field on teams and we make critical errors. And when we do that, the result is what you saw. And we’re not trying to do it. It’s not like we’re not giving everything we have. We’re just not executing the way we need to in critical situations and it’s costing us.”

In the first half, the Texans had seven penalties for 95 yards. They also turned the ball over four more times and didn’t cause any turnovers on Sunday. The Texans’ turnover differential is now minus-12 for the season.

“I’ll just say this. For the past few weeks the finger has been pointed in one direction a lot,” head coach Gary Kubiak said. “Btu we sprung leaks all over the place today as a football team.”

After the Rams’ first score of the third quarter, Keshawn Martin fumbled the kickoff into the arms of Daren Bates, who ran into the end zone. Then, later in the half, T.J. Yates threw a pick-6, the team’s fifth of the season. Texans’ turnovers have now led to 75 points from the opposition this season.

The Texans were able to overcome their mistakes to win the first two games in 2012, but have lost four games since. The season, which started with Super Bowl aspirations, is quickly spiraling out of control.

The Texans moved the ball well on Sunday but again had trouble scoring in the red zone, turning the ball over three times inside the opponents' 20. They didn't score their offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter, when the game was already out of hand.

“I wish I could put a finger on it,” said Yates, who came in for Matt Schaub, who left with an injury in the third quarter. “We’re all trying to figure it out right now. Bad things are happening, we’re turning the ball over, not playing well. We moved the ball great out there. We had almost 400 yards of total offense, we just got to score in the red zone, we have to not give them any chances to win. We can’t help any other team. We have to help ourselves and we’re not doing that right now.”

Schaub has been criticized for his interceptions – he had nine in five games before Sunday – but Yates threw two on Sunday. One was returned 98 yards for a touchdown by Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree. In the past few games, defenders have said there’s some predictability to the Texans’ offense, which has helped them intercept passes. Sunday was no different.  

“I was able to read the quarterback’s eyes,” Ogletree said, “and I kind of stepped in front of the route they were running and I was able to take it to the house. It was more of an instinct play for me, even though I did see it on film. I just know when they get down close they want to run a few routes like that. So when the time came, I was able to step up and make a big play.”

The Texans will head to Kansas City to face the undefeated Chiefs (6-0) next week. Before all the players had cleared out on Sunday, the giant board that hangs above the entrance in the locker room had already been changed to reflect the matchup against the Chiefs. The Texans will have to put Sunday’s game past them in a hurry, no matter how hard it is.

“You can’t let is snowball,” Ed Reed said. “It’s been four games but the season is nowhere near over.”