Houston had a chance for its first single-season, four-game winning streak on Sunday against the Colts.
Instead, the Texans committed a season-high 103 yards of penalties and three turnovers before Kris Brown missed a potential game-tying field goal as time expired in the 20-17 loss.
“This week we were very sloppy,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “I’m very concerned about how we started (Sunday). I thought we lacked some focus early in the game. We lacked some focus from some very important players.”
The Texans have their bye this week and 15 days to regroup before a Monday night meeting with Tennessee followed by a rematch with the Colts. The 5-4 Texans are looking for a strong finish to keep up hopes of their first playoff berth.
Kubiak said turnovers have been his team’s biggest problem through its first nine games.
“Turnovers. I don’t have the words to describe how frustrated I am,” Kubiak said. “It’s just hurting our football team. It’s not one guy, it’s not two guys, it’s a little bit of everybody. Fixing that problem and being better in that phase over the next seven weeks will have a lot to do with what we’re talking about come January.”
Running back Steve Slaton’s five lost fumbles are tied for most in the NFL and Houston has lost seven fumbles overall. Matt Schaub has nine interceptions this season after getting picked off twice on Sunday.
Houston’s other turnover against the Colts came after Indianapolis challenged a call that Ryan Moats had fumbled the ball out of bounds at the Indianapolis 1 late in the first half. The ruling was reversed and the Colts got a touchback and the ball at the 20.
The Texans were criticized for letting the clock run down to the two-minute warning instead of quickly running a play and giving Indianapolis time to review and challenge the play. Kubiak said he didn’t realize the call was questionable until it was too late.
“The topic never came up that there was a problem over there,” he said. “So I was strictly trying to control the game from a standpoint of hoping not to put our defense back on the field and give Peyton (Manning) the ball with too much time.”
Houston’s 13 penalties were by far their most of the season after the Texans averaged just more than five a game in the first eight games.
“We had penalties in all phases,” Kubiak said. “Trying to overcome that many penalties and still beat this football team makes it very, very difficult.”
Kubiak pointed to a pass interference penalty on Dunta Robinson and an unnecessary roughness call on Eugene Wilson as the most troubling of the infractions. Both penalties came on third down and allowed the Colts to extend their drives.
“The thing about those two penalties is that it led to about 20 more snaps that the defense was on the field,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t think players realize that.”
Houston hopes to clean up its mistakes and rebound from a poor first half against the AFC South where its only division win was against Tennessee. The Texans face that challenge quickly with their remaining division games all coming in the three weeks following the bye.
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