Texans on verge of rising, still coming up short
Sunday’s game highlighted a key difference between the undefeated
“It’s like we are at this hill and we keep getting to the top and we just keep rolling back down,”
Owner Bob McNair’s team can’t blame its struggles on a lack of talent. Now that Houston’s roster is on par with the top teams in the league, his players must learn how to focus at crucial times to win big games.
“The thing that we haven’t developed yet to the extent that it needs to be developed is our mental toughness,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I think that’s what we have to focus on. We have to be mentally tougher, a little more disciplined and then when you get in these pressure situations you still focus on getting your job done.”
Houston’s most recent loss came after two straight games where the team lost by three points after
“You’ve got to change your mindset on hoping and wishing bad things don’t happen to going out there and knowing that you’re going to execute no matter what happens,” defensive end
Johnson, the star receiver who has been with the team since its second season, took the last loss extremely hard. He blamed himself for not making more plays and lamented letting another win get away.
Coach Gary Kubiak said Houston’s third straight heartbreaking defeat was particularly hard for his team.
“A lot of people in this building are working very hard, coaches, people in this building that deserve some success and those players are a big part of that,” he said. “They’re the ones that have to go find it for everybody, so obviously they’re very, very down (Monday).”
This week the
Houston had a losing record in each of its first five seasons before Kubiak led it to an 8-8 finish in each of the last two. Each season, Johnson brushed aside talk of personal goals or accomplishments in favor of discussing his hopes of leading Houston to its first playoff berth.
“The leaders have got to be able to identify those situations when they really need to step up and sort of help pull the team up with them during those crucial times,” McNair said. “We’ve been short in that area. We haven’t had the leadership we need to get through those tough periods and we’ve had too many mental mistakes.”
“We’ve got to find a way to make the plays when we’re in these close football games to come out on top, and good teams do that,” Kubiak said.
The question is how does a team that has never experienced success learn to win big games?
Kubiak and his players were troubled by the lack of concentration on a play during the
“That’s a great play, but you have to refocus,” Kubiak said. “That’s your job to make those plays. You’re looking at an 11-0 football team, one of their players gets the heck knocked out of them and nobody lost focus.”
While Kubiak has shouldered the blame for Houston’s recent struggles, McNair expressed confidence in his work with the team this season.
“I think Gary has done a good job,” McNair said. “I think his coaching staff has done a good job. I think the morale of the team has been very high, there’s no dissension, everybody’s on the same page, nobody is pointing fingers at each other. That is attributed to two things: the coaches and the selection of players and the type of people we have on the team.”