Broncos 38, Texans 24

Shame bells all around for Texans in brutal loss to Broncos

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Sunday's game against the Broncos had all the look of a trap game for the Texans. Coming off a huge win over New England and with the Titans up next, it would have been easy to overlook Denver. It's an act we have seen before with these Texans. Not only was the trap sprung, the Texans were embarrassed by a bad football team, getting beat 38-24. Rest assured, the game was not nearly that close. They deserve shame bells all around. Here is how it all played out:

Offense

Positives: They scored 21 garbage time points!

Negatives: They could not have started any worse. They have scored 3 points in 13 first possessions this year. They not only failed to score on their first drive, they gave up a defensive touchdown on their second to put them in a 14-0 hole. Keke Coutee fumbled after a catch, and the Broncos returned it for a touchdown. They could do nothing for the rest of the half. They went for it on fourth and 1 at their own 34 with two minutes left in the first half, and failed thanks to a terrible play call. It led to another Broncos score and an insurmountable 31-3 halftime deficit. Deshaun Watson was ineffective until garbage time. His numbers at the end would look OK, but it was textbook empty stats.

Defense

Positives: Zach Cunningham had 17 total tackles.

Negatives: Like the offense, they started terribly, giving up a touchdown on the opening drive, and things got worse from there. Jonathan Joseph allowed a huge gain on the first play making a poor decision to try to intercept the football. They let Drew Lock march down the field on the Broncos first four offensive drives. The Texans got no pressure and were awful in coverage, giving up 24 first half points to a struggling offense. They of course got defensive holding penalties on the last drive of the half, and did not stop the Broncos once in the first half, and they started out the second half just as badly. It was just a terrible performance across the board. The Broncos had not scored more than 24 points all season. They had 31 in the first half alone. The Texans gave up 309 yards passing to Lock and did not get a stop until 2:37 remained in the third quarter when Tashaun Gipson picked off Lock inside the Texans 5 yard line.

The bottom line

A week after their best win of the season, the Texans followed it up with perhaps their worst performance yet. The Baltimore loss was one thing; the Ravens are the best team in the AFC. The Broncos are a losing team with a rookie quarterback, and they dominated the game. The good news is the Texans tend to bounce back from awful efforts like this one, and they have the Titans in a key AFC South battle next week. The bad news? They still have awful efforts like this. The coaching was bad, Watson was not good when it mattered, the defense was a joke. There was literally nothing positive to take from this game. Other than that...

The Texans fall to 8-5. They can still win the AFC South or earn a wild card spot, but after a performance like this, it is hard to see them being much of a postseason threat.

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STEELERS 28, TEXANS 21

5 observations from the Texans loss to the Steelers

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The Texans are 0-3 after at least putting up some fight before they were dominated in the second half in a 28-21 loss to Pittsburgh. It was once thing to get wasted by the Chiefs and Ravens, and the Steelers are better than them as well, but at some point you have to beat these teams. Three tries, three failures. And it was not as close as the score. They were outgained 387-260, out-first downed 25-13, out-possessed 36:51-23:09.

Here are five thoughts from the game:

1) Once again, Watson just wasn't good enough. We pointed out how Deshaun Watson had not been elite over his last 10 games. Make it 11. He was terrific in the first half, but the Steelers adjusted and shut him down in the second half. Watson threw a pick on third and long in the fourth quarter, but it really was not an awful play - he was trying to make something happen on a tough down. It essentially functioned as a short punt. But he did nothing the rest of the half. It did not help that they had no running game (see No. 2) and untimely penalties hurt as well, but the Texans need Watson to win games for them, and to do that, he needs to be great. He was 19 of 27 for 264 yards, two touchdowns, the pick and was sacked five times. Good. Not great. And not good enough.

2) The running game is a real problem on both sides of the ball. The Texans defense for the third week in a row could not stop the run, allowing 173 yards and an average of 4.9 per carry. Conversely, the Texans managed just 29 yards on 15 carries, a pathetic 1.9 per tote. You simply can't win football games like that.

3) This is what the defense will be. Don't laugh; the defense actually played OK - for what they are. This is a below average unit lacking talent at all levels. They did get two sacks, but for the most part they just aren't good enough to stop solid NFL offenses. They will have to get a few stops here and there and rely on their offense for the Texans to win games. (Of course, they can't really rely on the offense, can they?) They don't get turnovers, they don't stop the run, they con't cover well. The guys on the field are playing hard and OK for what they are, but this defense simply lacks any real difference makers other than J.J. Watt, who can be neutralized since he has no help.

4) Tight ends will always be a bane of this defense. The Steelers tight ends finished with eight catches including Eric Ebron's touchdown. The Texans have never been able to stop tight ends, other than a brief stretch when they had Tayshaun Gipson on the team last year. There really is no reason to complain about this, because it will never change.

5) Today's O'Brien blame goes to...O'Brien the GM. He did nothing to fix his defense in the off-season, and that unit isn't getting it down. Yes, we could also bring up his horrific offense, getting out-adjusted at halftime, but then that is O'Brien the coach. The GM gets the blame today.

The McNairs love him, so he will be fine, but any other coach/GM would be firmly on the hot seat.

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