HOLIDAY JEER

The 12 nightmares of Christmas from the Texans 34-6 loss to the Steelers

The Steelers were a nightmare for T.J. Yates. Bob Levey/Getty Images

I was in a rock band in the early 1980s, and we wanted to write a Christmas song. So we came up with a metal classic called Christmas in Hell. The lyrics were bad, and it was basically three chords with loud, screaming guitars. The chorus was pretty simple:

Your skin on fire, searing flesh you will smell

Come on down and spend Christmas in hell

Texans fans know that feeling all too well. Sunday’s game with the Steelers was another predictably hellish experience in what has been a nightmare season all around. So in honor of the season, we provide the 12 nightmare gifts of Christmas, Texans style, from Monday’s 34-6 loss to Pittsburgh. The Texans were not supposed to win this game -- the Steelers are one of the best in the league -- but for a second straight week they failed to compete. (And yes, this is a stretch, but you try writing about this disaster of a team on a weekly basis).

A partridge in a pear tree

One of the rare times in the first half where the Texans mustered some offense, they had third and goal at the one foot line. They had run the ball down the field with efficiency. But they threw on third down, then again on fourth when it was intercepted. Typically awful Bill O’Brien playcalling in the red zone. Bird in the hand, Bill. Run the bleeping ball.

Two turtle doves

For the second week in a row, the Texans were dead at halftime. It was 31-0 last week, 20-0 this week. The Texans turtled up...again after that.

Three french hens

Try French toast instead. Specifically the secondary. Jonathan Joseph, Kevin Johnson and Andre Hal all took turns getting burned. This unit has been bad all year and Monday was no exception.

Four calling birds

Something called Taylor Heinicke became the fourth player to call signals (see what I did there?) for the Texans at quarterback this season when he took a snap late in the second quarter. The offense generated minus-7 passing yards in the first half. T.J. Yates suffered a potential concussion late in the half. Yates was 2 of 7 for 8 yards, a pick, a fumble and was sacked four times in the first half alone. Henicke then had his own head injury after one series and Yates returned. Yates would finish 7 of 16 for a paltry 83 yards, a touchdown and the pick and fumble.

Five golden rings

In the five game losing streak, the Texans have celebrated a touchdown just five times. They have just two in the last two games. Your team simply has no chance when you generate no offense. Considering how well they ran the football against the Steelers, it’s hard to imagine they got just one TD but the non-existent passing game was a killer.

Six geese a laying

Speaking of laying eggs, let’s go with the offensive line, with another poor effort in pass protection, although they did run block well. They often played with an offensive lineman at the tight end position, (so six at once, so this kind of works). And they all laid eggs at some point.

Seven swans a swimming

The Texans front seven on defense struggled to get to Ben Roethlisburger. The group has been riddled by injuries, and at this point is fielding the equivalent of a third unit. Jadeveon Clowney, Bernardick McKinney and rookie Zach Cunningham played OK at times, but they simply do not have enough help. Even when Clowney finally managed a sack, he got called for a facemask. This group is...swimming upstream?

Eight maids a milking

The Texans as a team managed EIGHT completions. EIGHT. They were sacked almost as many times, with seven. They managed to, um, milk those catches for 51 team passing yards.

Nine ladies dancing

Props to the Steelers for their celebration after LeVeon Bell’s second half touchdown. They danced around and had a snowball fight. The relaxed celebration rules have led to a lot of fun ones, and this one was very good. Meanwhile, Steelers fans also won the day. They made NRG sound like Heinz south and at least made it sound like a meaningful game -- even if it was the other team. So lots of dancing fans, too.

10 lords a leaping

How about No. 10? DeAndre Hopkins made yet another highlight reel catch for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He has simply been amazing this year, and one of the few bright spots in a lost season. The catch was the only real highlight for a team that never had a chance.

11 pipers piping

Let’s give this one to the Steelers defense, which locked down the Texans all day. They did give up a lot of rushing yards, but they also completely shut down the passing game.

12 drummers drumming

And the beat goes on, so one drummer for each drumming the Texans will have taken this year, as they fell to an embarrassing 4-11 on the season and will likely lose again to the Colts next week to finish 4-12.

 

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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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