FALCON POINTS

5 reasons why the Texans 9-game winning streak came to an end

5 reasons why the Texans 9-game winning streak came to an end
T.Y. Hilton had some big plays. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Texans did a lot of the things against the Colts that they did in their winning streak. The difference is they were bad things, and the result was their first loss since the 0-3 start as the Colts hung on for a 24-21 victory. At 9-4, the Texans likely blew their chance at a top two seed, but they are still well in control of the AFC South, up two games with three to play. (Yes, New England lost, but chances are that is not going to happen again).

Here are five reasons they lost:

  1. Tough first half. Bill O'Brien teams are 30-1 when leading at halftime. They trailed 17-7 in this one, and never got back in front. The Texans are now 0-4 when trailing this season at halftime. They did not trail in any of the games in the nine-game winning streak. They are at their best with a lead where they can run the football. The Colts took that away on Sunday.
  2. Old problems on defense. The Texans simply don't have anyone on the roster who can cover T.Y. Hilton and he once again dominated them with 8 catches for 193 yards. They also can't cover tight ends, and Eric Ebron had several plays (and several drops) including a touchdown. Once Andrew Luck got going, the Texans simply did not have answer. They were able to win the turnover battle 1-0 or the game would have been worse, but they did not have the game-changing play that could have won it.
  3. Give the other guys credit. Luck was terrific. The improving Colts defense came to play as well. The Colts were the better team on this day. It happens.
  4. Confused Deshaun. Deshaun Watson did not have a great day. The Colts baffled him with several blitzes and he held the ball too long on too many plays. He was sacked five times and never really looked comfortable.
  5. No running game. The Texans had been terrific running the football of late, but Sunday the Colts stuffed them. Without a running game, the Texans could not use play action effectively, and the Colts teed off on an offensive line that could not stop them and a quarterback who could not handle the pressure.

Of course, this loss could be on me. The Texans are 0-3 lifetime when I am out of the country. (Visiting in-laws in Saskatchewan, Canada.

No loss is a good loss at this stage of the season with so much on the line in terms of playoff seedings. But the Colts were in must-win mode and played like the better team for three quarters. The Texans are still in a good spot to win the division, so this is one they should put in their rear-view and move on. It does re-raise the concern as to whether or not they are good enough to beats teams with great quarterbacks in the playoffs, but that's a discussion for another day.

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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