HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans are looking to turn the page quickly after following up their big win against New England with a lopsided loss to Denver this weekend.
They’ll need to put that 38-24 defeat far behind heading to next Sunday’s key AFC South matchup at Tennessee. Houston’s loss to the Broncos left it in a tie with the Titans for first place in the division with both meetings with them coming up in the final three weeks of the season.
“Everything we want is in front of us,” defensive tackle D.J. Reader said. “We’ve just got to take care of it. It’s not like (we’re) depressed or anything like that, but we’ve got to play better.”
Houston allowed the Broncos to score on their first five possessions and gave up a defensive touchdown to fall behind 38-3 early in the third quarter. The Texans couldn’t put together drives, gave up multiple big plays and turned over the ball three times in the loss.
“We’re all in this together, but it all starts with me,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “Look, we’re an 8-5 football team coming off a (big win) and we got beat soundly by the Broncos, and we’ve got to come in here and go back to work. We’ve got important games left. There’s a lot of football left to be played.”
Quarterback Deshaun Watson finished with 292 yards passing and ran for two touchdowns against Denver, but he struggled to get the offense going before the game was out of hand. Watson had just 120 yards passing and didn’t score before halftime.
“Didn’t play well enough,” Watson said. “They got up, and it was hard for us to come back. We tried to. Just got to get back to the drawing board.”
Not much was working against the Broncos, but O’Brien was encouraged that his team kept fighting in the second half after falling behind by so much.
“It looked terrible, I get that, but I do think our guys fought hard and competed,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think there was … any loafing. I think overall our guys, they competed, they fought.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Texans need to figure out a way to start faster after scoring just 23 points in the first quarter this season. The problem continued on Sunday when they failed score in the opening quarter for the sixth time in 2019.
“We just have to commit to better habits, coaching and playing,” O’Brien said. “We drive the ball, we’re moving the ball on the first drive, get a penalty. Give up a long pass play on their first drive. These things, we talk about starting fast, but talk is cheap. We’ve got to go out there and actually do it.”
Running back Carlos Hyde ran for 73 yards on Sunday after gaining just 17 yards on 10 carries against the Patriots. Hyde leads the Texans with 926 yards rushing in his first season with the team.
Left tackle Laremy Tunsil continues to struggle with false-start penalties. Tunsil, who was traded to Houston from Miami in August, had three on Sunday to give him an NFL-leading 12 this season.
“He’s played very well, but he’s had too many penalties and he would be the first one to tell you that,” O’Brien said. “We’ve got to try to fix it. We’ve got to continue to try to help him to fix it.”
WR Will Fuller missed his fourth game of the season with a hamstring injury.
8, 2 — Watson has thrown eight touchdown passes with just two interceptions in three career games against the Titans.
The Texans will look to execute better and eliminate turnovers as they travel to Nashville on Sunday looking to regain sole possession of first place in the AFC South. The Titans have won four in a row and six of the last seven games.
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