Texans move on after another agonizing loss
Another defensive meltdown. Another agonizing defeat for the Houston Texans.
For the second straight week, the Texans gave up the winning touchdown in the final seconds, this time in a 30-27 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday. Mark Sanchez threw a 42-yard pass to Braylon Edwards down the sideline, setting up a short TD pass to Santonio Holmes with 10 seconds left.
Houston (4-6) has dropped four in a row heading into next Sunday's game against Tennessee (5-5). The Texans have gone through a four-game losing streak in each of the past three seasons.
Last week, coach Gary Kubiak promised changes and one of the most noticeable against the Jets was moving defensive coordinator Frank Bush from the press box to the sideline.
The Jets finished with 401 total yards - the sixth time Houston has allowed at least 400 in a game this year - but Kubiak said Monday that he saw progress from the defense. He also offered a vote of confidence for Bush, whom he hired in 2007.
''I believe in him,'' Kubiak said. ''We played much better defense. There were a lot of good things that went on. I believe in the guy. We'll figure out a way to get it done.''
The Texans sacked Sanchez three times, and Kubiak said Houston's pass rush was better than it's been all season. Houston also forced two turnovers in the fourth quarter to fuel its comeback.
The Jets led 23-10 when Shonn Greene fumbled near midfield. Middle linebacker Kevin Bentley recovered, and Matt Schaub threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joel Dreessen on the next snap.
Houston's defense forced a punt, Arian Foster scored with 2:24 left and the Texans took the lead. Bentley then intercepted Sanchez and Neil Rackers kicked a 22-yard field goal to put Houston up 27-23 with 59 seconds left.
''You get yourself in those positions and you have to close the deal,'' Kubiak said.
But once again, the Texans and their NFL-worst pass defense couldn't do it.
Last week in Jacksonville, cornerback Glover Quin batted David Garrard's last-second heave into the waiting hands of Mike Thomas, who stepped into the end zone to lift the Jaguars to a 31-24 victory.
On Sunday, safety Eugene Wilson was late to help cornerback Jason Allen on Sanchez's deep pass to Edwards. The Texans have allowed a league-high 13 receptions covering at least 40 yards.
''We just need to keep our width better,'' Kubiak said. ''I don't think anyone's out there trying to do something wrong. We need to play it better, from both perspectives, from the corner and the safety. Nobody's out there trying to make that mistake.''
Holmes beat Quin in the end zone on the next play for the winning score. The Texans have given up a league-high 25 touchdown passes.
''There are no excuses,'' Kubiak said. ''We're struggling back there. Statistically, that's where we're struggling, so people attack us that way.''
Despite the late breakdowns, Kubiak said the maligned secondary showed improvement on Sunday. He liked what he saw from rookie cornerback Kareem Jackson and from Allen, who saw his first action with the Texans after he was cut by Miami two weeks ago.
''You give up a couple of plays late in the game, it negates everything that you did that was positive,'' Kubiak said. ''If you get beat, it goes back to the two or three negative things that you did. When you don't win, it's not good enough by everybody. But there were some guys doing some good stuff.''
Kubiak said Houston's linebacking corps turned in its best performance of the season. Brian Cushing, back at his strongside position, caused Greene's fumble and Bentley caught the Texans' sixth interception of the season. Bentley also led the team with six tackles.
The Texans have three division games left, and sit only two games behind first-place Indianapolis. Kubiak extracted enough positive things out of Sunday's loss to keep hope for what the team can still accomplish this season.
''We sure as hell aren't giving up,'' he said. ''There's a lot of football left to play. We're going to play a bunch of division games. We get ready to play this week, a big game against Tennessee here at home.
''The effort's good,'' Kubiak added. ''Obviously, we need a win with the effort.''