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

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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The Texans are back in action! Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans are back on the field for voluntary OTAs, and it sure is nice to see one face in particular. Tank Dell is already participating in on-field drills after suffering a gunshot wound to the leg just a few weeks ago.

After the incident, Texans CEO Cal McNair said Dell would take a while to get back to where he was in his broken fibula rehab before suffering the gunshot wound. Clearly, Dell is ahead of schedule, and that's a great thing for QB CJ Stroud and the rest of the offense.

Head coach DeMeco Ryans spoke about Tank Dell's return.

Notable absences

The biggest addition of the offseason, Stefon Diggs, is not present at OTAs. Tytus Howard, Laremy Tunsil, and Shaq Mason are not in attendance either. Let's keep in mind, these workouts are voluntary, but it would have been great to see Diggs show up to build chemistry with Stroud.

Speaking of building chemistry with Stroud. The Texans' most productive receiver last season, Nico Collins, is on the field preparing for a huge contract year.

All Collins really has to prove this year is that he can stay healthy. He recorded 1,297 receiving yards and 8 TDs over 15 games in 2023.

He hasn't made it through a season healthy over his three-year career. Hopefully he bucks the trend in 2024. If he does, he likely will receive a contract extension similar to Colts receiver Michael Pittman. A three-year, $70 million deal with $46 million in guarantees. If he remains healthy, he'll get that money from someone, whether it's the Texans or another team.

Especially if Diggs leaves after the season when his contract expires.

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