Kubiak pushing for more after divisional clincher
Red-zone offense needs work as Houston seeks home-field advantage.
HOUSTON — The Houston Texans clinched the AFC South with a 29-17 win over the Colts to help erase the memory of a blowout loss to New England.
Coach Gary Kubiak still sees plenty of room for improvement after Sunday’s game and is challenging his team to play better with gaining home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs still within reach.
San Francisco’s win over New England on Sunday night left the Texans needing just one win in their last two games to secure home-field advantage.
“It’d be huge for this team because playing at home in this league and having the benefit of your crowd and getting off on cadence and all those types of things, it’s a big, big factor in success in this league,” Kubiak said. “We worked hard to get to the play-
offs. We worked hard to win a division and now we’ve got to continue that same effort to try to find a way to possibly be a one seed in this playoff hunt.”
One of Kubiak’s biggest concerns is Houston’s inability to finish drives lately. Houston was just one of five on red zone opportunities Sunday.
The Texans scored their only offensive touchdown on their second drive and settled for field goals the rest of the way.
“It was disappointing because we could have really put some points on the board,” Kubiak said. “You only get so many opportunities in this business and boy, you have to take advantage of them.”
Houston ran for 178 yards Sunday, led by a season-high 165 yards from Arian Foster. But the running game was ineffective in the red zone.
Foster managed just 2 yards on a third-and-4 from the Indianapolis 13 to force Houston to kick a field goal on its first drive. Houston had a secondand-10 inside the Indianapolis 20 when Ben Tate lost 4 yards on a run, forcing the team to settle for another field goal two plays later.
Houston’s red zone production was also hindered when Matt Schaub was sacked for a loss of 7 yards on second-and-8 in the third quarter.
There was criticism of why Houston didn’t go to Andre Johnson more in the red zone after he scored its only offensive touchdown early in Sunday’s game. Johnson leads the AFC with 1,360 yards receiving.
Kubiak said it often doesn’t make sense to force it to Johnson in those situations because the defense is focused on him.
But Kubiak also took time Monday to discuss some areas he isn’t fretting about.
He is excited about some of his young players, and believes their development will help the team as it moves closer to the playoffs.
Rookie receiver DeVier Posey, who hadn’t caught a pass until last week, had three receptions for 46 yards against the Colts. On defense, rookie Whitney Mercilus has helped Houston deal with numerous injuries to its linebackers. Mercilus has six sacks and has forced two fumbles despite starting just three games.
Kubiak also raved about defensive end J.J. Watt, who is tied with San Francisco’s Aldon Smith for the NFL sack lead with 19½.
Watt led the team with 10 tackles, forced a fumble and sacked Andrew Luck three times Sunday. He needs just three sacks to tie the NFL single-season record of 22½.