ANOTHER ROUGH DAY

Texans fail to show up, provide Christmas stinker in 34-6 loss to Steelers

Alfred Blue was a rare bright spot. Houstontexans.com

Merry Christmas from the Texans! Their present to the fans in Houston: a 34-6 loss that they were never a real threat to compete in. Really, they didn't even look like they wanted to play in this game and fell to 4-11 for the season.

Other than Jadeveon Clowney flying all over the field on defense and an amazing catch by DeAndre Hopkins, everyone else on the Texans looked lethargic. Maybe they ate too much Christmas dinner before kickoff. 

Meanwhile, the injuries continue to pile up at the quarterback position for Houston. Their fourth of the season, Taylor Heinicke, made his professional debut when T.J. Yates went to the sideline for a concussion evaluation in the second quarter. He looked like any other quarterback not named Watson and finished the day being evaluated for his own concussion. Yates was cleared to return right before Heinicke went down and came back in to finish what he stared

DeAndre Hopkins had another decent day at the office, adding four receptions, 65-yards and a touchdown to the 92/1,313/12 that he came in with. His touchdown in the fourth quarter quickly went on the short list for one of the best catches in the NFL this season. He tipped it to himself with one hand then caught it with one hand while falling out of bounds. It was a beautiful site to behold, his own Christmas miracle.

The rest of the game wasn't so amazing. T.J. Yates had two turnovers in the first half and threw for only eight yards on seven attempts. He improved in the second half getting 59 yards and a touchdown on 9 attempts. The best thing they had going for them was the running game. Alfred Blue led the team with sixteen carries for 108 yards, including a 48-yard burst at the start of the second quarter.

That big run by Blue set them up in the red zone with a chance to cut into the ten-point deficit. But when your season doesn't matter, the coach can make bold choices. At the one yard line, Bill O'Brien called passes on 3rd and 4th down. The second of those passes by Yates found itself in the arms of Artie Burns for an interception. That would be the closest Houston came to putting points on the board until it didn't matter anymore.

Pittsburgh controlled this game from start to finish and the Texans couldn't stop Le'Veon Bell from averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 5.6 yards per reception. He finished the game with 96 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.

The Steelers scored ten points on their first two drives while the Texans could only muster twenty-four total yards in theirs. From then on it was all about ball control for the Steelers while their defense shut down almost every possession Houston had.

Defensively, the Texans were allowing 27 points and 355 yards per game before facing the Steelers. They kept it up by allowing 34 points and 324 yards of offense to their opponent. 

This game should have been flexed out of this spot, but I guess the league just wanted to see Pittsburgh. It was never competitive and the only big highlights were a long run by Alfred Blue and the touchdown by Hopkins. Everything else I saw was not worth the time I spent watching it. 

Next week the Texans travel to Indianapolis to finish this season. The Colts only have 3 wins on the year and the Texans will be playing a team they can beat to end the year on a high note. All they really need is for more than a couple of players to show up and give a better effort.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans outmatched when it counts against Steelers

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Another game, another loss for the Texans. This time it was only a seven point loss to the Steelers as they fell 28-21 in Pittsburgh. This time around, Bill O'Brien looked to be on his game as far as decision-making was concerned. However, there is still room for improvement.

One thing that I did appreciate that O'Brien did was have trust in the offensive line. The Steelers pass rush could be problematic, but their defense overall is very stout. That's how they were able to nearly make the playoffs last year with a Duck at quarterback. While the Texans did give up five sacks, they weren't all due to poor offensive line play. The Texans lost 33 yards on those five sacks. Tytus Howard and Zach Fulton handled themselves fairly well after looking like turnstiles the first two games. O'Brien called longer developing pass plays and play action in spite of this and it paid off with Deshaun Watson and his receivers putting up 264 yards in the air.

There also wasn't an instance of Bumbling Bill this game. At the end of the first half, there was a minute and fourteen seconds left. The Texans were down 17-14 and had all three timeouts with the ball on their 25-yard line. Classic Bumbling Bill situation right? Wrong! Not only was the play-calling on point, but the players executed and the timeout situation was handled perfectly. First timeout was used after getting to midfield with 47 seconds left. Timeout number two was used after a 20 yard gain after the previous play. A 15 yard gain later to the Steeler 14-yard line and timeout number three was used with 28 seconds left. This set up perfectly for them to call a multitude of plays. They only needed one as Watson found Will Fuller in the end zone on a jump ball in which Fuller rose up and was physical enough to grab the ball over the defender. They went up 21-17 at the half.

Bill O'Brien's teams were 37-3 when leading at halftime. I say "were" because they lost this one after not scoring a single point in the second half. This was more on the defense not being able to fight its way out of a wet paper bag, and a lack of execution by the offense. Specifically, the run defense has been atrocious and Watson either needs quicker reads or to stop holding onto the ball so long by making quicker decisions. That's on coaching to put players in positions to succeed, but also the players to execute.

Ultimately, this was on O'Brien the general manager more than O'Brien the coach. This roster is woefully outmatched. The only time an outmatched roster can compete consistently is in college football with a wacky offense. It just doesn't happen in the NFL. Hey, at least Bumbling Bill didn't rear his butt chin today. Today's Culture Map play call menu was brought to you by Pour Behavior. I suggest getting over there and checking out their daily specials.

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