Texans morning huddle: Houston loses again despite Strong effort


Say it isn’t so Texans fans. The Houston Texans had everything going for them as they faced the Indianapolis Colts without their star quarterback Andrew Luck. The Texans were at home and former Houston receiver Andre Johnson hadn’t caught a pass since Week 2.

Yet despite all that, the Texans fell to the Colts 27-20 behind the arm of 40-year old Matt Hasselbeck and the receiving of Johnson. The bitter taste is still there, but there is always tomorrow in the NFL where you never know what can happen. Let’s take a quick look around the web at what was said about last night’s heartbreaker.

Jaelen Strong scores Hail Mary TD – by Deepi Sidhu, HoustonTexans.com

"Jaelen Strong’s first NFL catch was worth the wait.With one second left in the first half, Brian Hoyer landed a deep, 42-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to the rookie as time expired. It was Strong’s first game in action after being inactive for Weeks 2 through 4.Ryan Mallett started the game but was replaced by Hoyer in the second quarter of the Thursday night game against Indianapolis. Mallett, who walked off the field after a hit that resulted in roughing penalty by the Colts, did not re-enter the game in the first half.Hoyer led the Texans on two scoring drives, the first a 36-yard field goal by Nick Novak and the second, a touchdown pass to Strong. He is 8-of-13 for 127 yards, one touchdown, and a 119.7 passer rating. The Texans trail 13-10 at halftime."

Texans’ defense in a free fall – ESPN Stats & Information

"Andrew Luck’s injured right shoulder means Matt Hasselbeck is expected to start at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts in Thursday night’s game at the Houston Texans (8:25 ET).According to the latest projections by ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Colts’ chance to win drops from 55 percent with Luck starting to 40 percent with Hasselbeck starting.Whether Luck or Hasselbeck starts, the Colts’ quarterback will face a Texans defense that has cratered compared with last season – and compared with how it performed at its best moments under former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.Strong defense early this decadeThe Texans’ defensive implosion began before Phillips left the team following the 2013 season.With him on staff from 2011 to 2013, the Texans’ defensive efficiency ranks were, respectively, third, fourth and 24th. (ESPN’s efficiency ratings capture everything a unit does on a per-play basis in contributing to the team’s final scoring margin.)Looking at that three-season stretch as a whole, the Texans ranked sixth in the NFL in defensive points added. Narrowing down just to run defense EPA, the Texans were third in that three-season span.The Texans made the division playoffs in 2011 and 2012 but fell to 2-14 in 2013, a season in which coach Gary Kubiak collapsed on the field at halftime of their eighth game and Phillips assumed interim head coaching duties.After improvement, a drop-off this seasonIn 2014, Bill O’Brien’s first season as head coach, the Texans went 9-7 thanks to most efficient defense in the NFL.This season is looking more like 2013. The Texans are tied for 26th in the NFL in points allowed, and they rank 22nd in defensive efficiency.They rank 11th in points per drive allowed (1.73), but their defense has faced a league-high 55 drives (league average: 45).Does the offense share in the responsibility? The Texans’ percentage of offensive drives going three-and-out is 35 percent — 19th in the league — and worse than the league average of 32 percent.And the NFL’s No. 1 defensive unit in terms of efficiency this season? That would be the defense of the Denver Broncos, whose defensive coordinator is none other than Phillips."

Matt Hasselbeck again shows age is just a number in Colts’ victory – by Mike Wells, ESPN

"Matt Hasselbeck and Andre Johnson continue to show that age is just a number.Hasselbeck, starting in place of the injured Andrew Luck for the second straight week, led the Colts to their second consecutive victory, 27-20 over the Houston Texans on Thursday.In those two starts, the 40-year-old Hasselbeck has completed 48 of 76 passes for 495 yards and three touchdowns. And what made his performance even more impressive is that he has been battling an illness that had him in the hospital earlier this week.Hasselbeck choked up after the game and said, during a television interview, “I got nothing left.”Hasselbeck’s solid play has allowed the Colts to not rush Luck back into the lineup. Now Luck will have had three weeks off by the time the Colts play the New England Patriots on Oct. 18.Hasselbeck got help from a receiver motivated to show that he can still contribute. Johnson, whom the Texans didn’t think could start anymore, had six catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns."

Houston Texans fall to Colts, leave questions at quarterback again – by Tania Ganguli ESPN

"The Houston Texans have now gone from Brian Hoyer to Ryan Mallett to Brian Hoyer to Ryan Mallett to Brian Hoyer.Follow?Tonight, against the Indianapolis Colts, came the latest iteration of the Texans’ quarterback merry-go-round. Mallett started the game, then appeared to have the wind knocked out of him in the second quarter. Colts linebacker Sio Moore’s helmet struck him in the midsection.Mallett left the game, but only a couple plays later, he seemed ready to go back in. No-go from head coach Bill O’Brien. Hoyer stayed in and led a field goal drive. He then threw a Hail Mary touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong to end the first half. Later in the second half, Hoyer threw another touchdown pass to Strong to bring the Texans to within three.Hoyer played very well. He completed 24 of 31 pass attempts and had those two touchdown passes. His one big mistake was a costly one — an interception thrown under pressure with the Texans driving for a touchdown that could have tied the game just after the two-minute warning. The Texans fell 27-20.Overall, Hoyer’s performance showed that perhaps he should have had the chance to bounce back from his rough opening game.What it means: The fans who remained rained boos down on the Texans after they let a winnable game slip away against the Colts. Historically, there have been a lot of these for the Texans, who have beat the Colts only four times in team history. Houston fell to 1-4 and are now two games back in the AFC South, where a win could have put them tied for first place.What were they thinking? The Texans’ handling of their quarterback situation is a bit baffling at this point. Tonight, the decision to go with Hoyer wasn’t just been about injury — Mallett was ready to go back in. But if O’Brien was ready to make that decision then, why not to start the game? Or why did he switch to Mallett in the first place, rather than giving Hoyer time to recover from a poor showing?One reason to get excited: Strong got his first game action, and in it he caught two touchdown passes including that Hail Mary. Both were the result of defensive breakdowns, but this kind of game might have given Strong a jolt of necessary confidence that will stay with him as he works to make a place for himself in the Texans’ offense."

O’Brien talks QB situation in loss to Colts – by Deepi Sidhu, HoustonTexans.com

"Brian Hoyer scored big again in relief of Ryan Mallett, but ultimately fell short as the Texans lost their second-consescutive game.Head coach Bill O’Brien will further evaluate his quarterback situation, but felt Hoyer “did a good job” under the circumstances.“He went in there – it wasn’t the easiest of circumstances – other than the last play where he kind of launched it up there,’ O’Brien said. “He probably wants to have that one back, but I thought he did a good job. We’ll review it tomorrow and see where we are at that position.”Hoyer led the Texans on four scoring drives, after entering the game in the second quarter for Ryan Mallett. Hoyer was 24-of-31 for 312 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 116.6.Mallett left the game with an injury and did not return, watching from the sideline. He did feel ready to re-enter the game, and tried, but it wasn’t his call. In the meantime, Hoyer led the Texans on a 12-play, 62-yard scoring drive.“I think he probably could have gone back in there, but Brian – that was a 60-yard drive that ended in a field goal. I thought that was a pretty good drive, so I stuck with Brian there.”"

Next: Texans vs. Colts: Week 5 Recap