Houston looks to improve and clinch home-field
The Houston Texans blew a chance to clinch home-field advantage
throughout the AFC playoffs with Sunday’s ugly loss to
They’ll get another opportunity to do it in the regular-season
finale at Indianapolis next Sunday. But a loss could drop them to
third in the AFC.
If Houston loses to the Colts and both Denver and New England
win, the Texans could fall to the third-seed and lose not only
home-field advantage, but also a first-round bye. If Indianapolis
beats Houston and Denver loses or New England loses or ties,
Houston will still get a bye.
They can also get home-field advantage with a loss if the
Broncos lose and the Patriots lose or tie.
”We know what it takes,” defensive end J.J. Watt said. ”We’re
going to get focused, and then we’re going to come out there and
earn ourselves home-field advantage.”
To do that, coach Gary Kubiak will need to correct many problems
on his team. The biggest one, he says, is improving on third downs.
Houston (12-3) has struggled in that area recently. Against the
Vikings was the worst yet as the Texans converted 1 of 11
”Obviously, we’ve got a problem on third downs right now,” he
said. ”It has not been good the last three weeks. If there was one
problem, we’d go address that. There’s many, many issues going on.
But there is one consistent issue and the consistent issue is
A glaring reason why there’s been so many long-yardage
situations is the inability to run well on first and second downs.
Nine of Houston’s 11 third downs were 8 yards or longer Sunday. Of
those nine, five came after Houston had running plays for no gain
or negative yardage on first or second down.
”That’s not the type of play we’re accustomed to having,” left
tackle Duane Brown said. ”We’ve got to get 5 and 6 then bust out a
big one. When have those 2-yard runs and set up a third-and-8,
third-and-7, it’s tough. Against a good defense it’s going to be
hard to convert those third and longs. We just continue to put
ourselves in those situations.”
Houston has converted 10 of 38 third down attempts in its last
three games, which included two losses. Some have blamed
quarterback Matt Schaub for the third down woes. But Kubiak said
he’s only part of the problem, and that the running backs, linemen,
receivers and even the coaches have to get better for things to
The success of Kubiak’s offense is predicated on running the
ball well. So he was troubled when he reviewed the game and
realized they didn’t have a single running play on third down
against the Vikings.
”For us to do what we do best, there’s a percentage of those
that we need to be in position to line up and run the football, and
we haven’t done that in the last month,” Kubiak said. ”Getting
back to that is a big point of emphasis. Now that’s a lot easier
said than done, so we’ve got to look at ourselves hard to make sure
we can get that done.”
The Texans had a season-low 34 yards rushing on Sunday. Their
running game was hurt by Arian Foster playing little more than a
half before leaving with an irregular heartbeat. Foster, who had a
season-worst 10 carries for 15 yards on Sunday, underwent tests
Monday and is OK.
”I appreciate all the concern and support,” Foster tweeted.
”I am doing well. Saw a cardiologist today and everything is back
Kubiak expects him to play Sunday.
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