Play­off route goes off course

Hous­ton loses at own sta­dium, fails to lock up home-field ad­van­tage.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Bernardo Fal­las

HOUS­TON — The Hous­ton Tex­ans botched a chance to lock up home-field ad­van­tage through­out the AFC play­offs with their worst of­fen­sive show­ing of the sea­son in Sun­day’s 23-6 loss to the Min­nesota Vik­ings.

“Very dis­ap­point­ing be­cause we had a chance to line up here and get some­thing done to­day,” coach Gary Ku­biak said. “That doesn’t mean we still can’t get it done. That’s the most im­por­tant thing.”

Hous­ton (12-3) could still clinch home-field ad­van­tage next with a win at Indianapolis.

The Tex­ans’ lat­est stum­ble was fu­eled by an ane­mic run­ning game that com­bined for 34 yards and an in­abil­ity to con­vert on third downs.

“We didn’t play well,”

Ku­biak said. “I think we bat­tled de­fen­sively, but of­fen­sively we prob­a­bly played as bad as we’ve played. I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for that. It’s a huge, huge dis­ap­point­ment. We’ve got to get over it really quick.”

Quar­ter­back Matt Schaub went 18 of 32 for 178 yards, and An­dre John­son caught seven passes for 97 yards, but the Tex­ans were a woe­ful 1 for 11 on third downs. and the first since Chris John­son in 2009.

Chris­tian Pon­der threw a touch­down pass and Toby Ger­hart added a score to cap the win for the Vik­ings, who re­main in con­tention for a play­off spot with a game to go.

“We have to play bet­ter in all facets of the game,” Watt said.

The Vik­ings took a 10-3 lead on the 56-yard field goal by Walsh.

Hous­ton got within 10 points be­fore Ger­hart’s 3-yard run ex­tended the lead to 23-6 with about five min­utes left in the fourth quar­ter. That drive was helped by a 29-yard carry by Pon­der.

Pon­der was 16 of 30 for 174 yards to help the Vik­ings pile up 345 yards. He fin­ished with seven rushes for 48 yards — 14 more yards rush­ing than the Tex­ans had.

While Hous­ton had a sea­son-low 187 yards in fail­ing to score a touch­down for the first time since the 2006 sea­son, the Vik­ings (9-6) were 9 for 18 on third downs.

“That was frus­trat­ing,” said Tex­ans de­fen­sive end J.J. Watt, who had a sack to give him 20½, mak­ing him the ninth player in NFL his­tory with 20 sacks in a sea­son. “I know we gave up some third-and-shorts. We can’t put our­selves in that sit­u­a­tion.”

Arian Fos­ter, Hous­ton’s lead­ing rusher, left the game with an ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat in the third quar­ter and did not re­turn. He fin­ished with 15 yards rush­ing on 10 car­ries. He also had two catches for 14 yards.

“He’s do­ing fine,” Ku­biak said. “That is some­thing that hap­pened once be­fore in prac­tice. (It was a) pre­cau­tion.”

Ben Tate took over mid­way through the third quar­ter and didn’t fare much bet­ter, to­tal­ing 17 yards on four car­ries.

The Tex­ans held Vik­ings run­ning back Adrian Peter­son to be­low-av­er­age num­bers, but Min­nesota found other ways to in­flict dam­age.

One of them was rookie kicker Blair Walsh, who made three field goals, in­clud­ing a record-set­ting 56-yarder in the first half. The kick gave Walsh, a rookie, the NFL record with nine field goals of 50 yards or longer this year.

Peter­son fin­ished with 86 yards on 25 car­ries, leav­ing him with 1,898 yards for the sea­son and 208 short of the Eric Dick­er­son’s NFL record for yards rush­ing in a sea­son.

Peter­son had his low­est rush­ing to­tal since get­ting 79 yards on Oct. 14 in a loss at Washington, break­ing a streak of eight 100-yard games.

He is try­ing to be­come just the sev­enth player in NFL his­tory to rush for 2,000 yards in a sea­son

Pa­tric sch­nei­der / ap

Tex­ans quar­ter­back Matt Schaub is slow to get up dur­ing the fourth quar­ter. He fin­ished with 178 yards pass­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.