Texans couldn't stop Vikings on third down
The goal of third down is to stay on the field or get your opponent off of it. On Sunday, the Texans were unable to do either.
Coming into Sunday's 23-6 loss to the Vikings, the Texans led the NFL in third down defense. Houston was holding their opponents to just under a 30-percent conversion rate. They had their hands full with a Minnesota team that ranked just 25th in the league as a third down offense, but the Vikings converted nine of their eighteen third down opportunities.
“That was frustrating," J.J. Watt said. "We definitely need to look at our third down conversions. I know we gave up some third and shorts. We can’t put ourselves in that situation and even when we do we need to stop them. We didn’t do a good enough job getting off the field. We need to get our offense the ball back and give them a chance to score.”
The nine third down conversions allowed tied a season high for the Texans. In an overtime win over the Lions, Detroit also went nine of eighteen on third downs offensively. Houston had allowed just 53 made third downs heading into Sunday, four better than second ranked San Francisco.
“They made a couple plays on third down," Kareem Jackson said. "I’m not really sure what they were percentage-wise. A couple of times we should have been off the field and we didn’t make the play when they made the play.”
Offensively third downs were just as much or more of a problem for the Texans. Houston went just one for 11 on third downs offensively, their lowest number of coverted third downs this season.
"Probably the biggest disappointment in the last month has been third downs," Gary Kubiak said. "That gets down to making plays. The quarterback, the wideouts making plays. I have to make a call for them that puts them in the right, perfect position and we haven’t been doing that. You’re one-for-11 in a game, that’s hard. You better be making some big plays and we weren’t doing that.”
“Again, it’s lack of execution, having long yardage situations and they’re a good defense," Matt Schaub said. "They play good style. Their front is very good, very active and just didn’t execute.”
A major contributing factor to the Texans struggles on third down was the inability to run the ball. Houston rushed for just 34 yards on 16 attempts. Of the Texans' 11 drives six were three and outs.
“If we can’t run the ball we’re dead in the water," James Casey said. "That’s what we do. That’s our main thing – that sets up everything else we do. If you’re not running the ball well on first down, it’s putting you in third and long situations and those are hard to convert for any team in the NFL because they can just play loaded coverage and bring blitzes and try to – they know you’re passing the ball so it makes you predictable. And that’s something we have to correct. We have to run the ball. We have to focus on that all week long. Going into Indianapolis we have to be able to run the ball to be successful in our offense and that’s going to have to – we have to get it done next week. And then going into the playoffs, that’s going to be the things we hang our hat on. We have to make sure we get that fixed.”