Colts 26, Texans 20

5 observations from the Texans brutal 26-20 loss to the Colts

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The Indianapolis Colts extended the Texans 2020 woes with a 26-20 victory at NRG stadium. Five observations from the game:

1) Deshaun Watson's day was a microcosm of the season. In the first half, Watson was terrific, leading the Texans to 20 points. But the second half was a different story. The Houston defense adjusted and slowed Indy down, but the Colts did the same thing to Watson. He threw his first interception in 237 attempts and his first since Week 5 in the second half. To be fair, it was a hell of a defensive play by the Colts, and not really a bad pass by Watson. But he was also sacked for a safety and fumbled the ball on a sack that was recovered by the offense. He led them into scoring position with a chance to win the game late, but center Nick Martin had a horrible snap that led to a game ending fumble. And Martin isn't even the worst of the overpaid players. More on that later.

2) Another O'Brien reject shines. O'Brien basically gave up on Keke Coutee. Pressed into service with Will Fuller suspended, Coutee had his second career 100-yard game, with 141 on eight catches. He should be a part of this offense moving forward. As this team remakes itself in the off-season, Coutee could be a key factor. Practice squad player Chad Hansen had a nice game as well. with five catches for 101 yards.

3) About that running game...David Johnson returned and had 44 yards on 10 carries, which sadly is one of his better games of the season. The Texans have to find a way to upgrade this position in the off-season. The good news is quality running backs can be found in the mid to later rounds of the draft. They should not be paying either David or Duke Johnson what they are getting for this lack of production.

4) Bradley Roby was missed on the defense. I wrote earlier in the week the Texans would miss Bradley Roby more than Will Fuller. The secondary simply could not match up with the Colts receivers in the first half. The Texans have very little depth at the position, and it showed with Roby out as Phillip Rivers torched them early. The Texans made some adjustments in the second half, which slowed the Colts down (of course, the Colts defense did the same against the Texans offense). Still, the Houston defense did enough in the second half to win the game, including a huge fourth-down stop inside their own 10-yard line. It was a big play by Tyrell Adams, who continues to show he can be a big part of the future as well. The Colts only points of the second half came on the Watson safety. Unfortunately that was two more than the Texans could muster.

5) Remember when Whitney Mercilus was a decent NFL player? It's definitely tough to recall, because he was absolutely useless again on Sunday. The only time his name got mentioned was when he being blocked out of a play. Of the overpaid Texans, Mercilus might be the most useless of all.

The bottom line: This was a tough loss, and the Texans had their chances to win it. But the awful fumble was a killer, and the Texans fall to 4-8.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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