Texans moving on from tough loss
HOUSTON >> The Houston Texans dealt with a fan’s hand-held laser pointed at quarterback Brock Osweiler’s eyes, questionable placement of the ball on two key plays and a would-be touchdown that was whistled dead in a loss to Oakland on Monday night.
Sure, the Texans were unhappy with all of those things, but a day later they know that dwelling on what happened in Mexico City won’t do them any good this week. The message for the Texans was clear on Tuesday: It’s time to move on.
They really have no other choice but to put the 27-20 defeat behind them with the San Diego Chargers heading to town in six days and Houston needing a win to remain in control of the AFC South. Houston (6-4) remains atop their division, but the loss put them within one game of the second-place Colts.
“The feeling in that locker room after that game is there’s a lot of football left and we have a lot to build on from that game,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “Being in first place is a good thing. The other teams in the division are playing pretty decent. So we’ve got to understand what is coming down the road here, but the first thing is San Diego, getting a good start on them on Wednesday.”
O’Brien didn’t want to discuss any of the calls from Monday night on Tuesday, but he did address the laser pointer after learning more about what happened since his postgame news conference. He said that running back Lamar Miller had it pointed in his face along with Osweiler.
“It doesn’t even enter your mind that someone would bring a laser into a game and point it at one of your players ... I think that’s terrible,” O’Brien said. “I don’t know what you can do about it.”
While dealing with the laser pointer and the questionable calls by the referees certainly weren’t ideal for the Texans, they can’t blame the loss entirely on those things. Their defense played great for three quarters before a 75-yard touchdown reception by Jamize Olawale tied things up and Amari Cooper took a screen pass 35 yards for the winning touchdown.
Houston’s pass defense entered the game ranked third in the NFL and the Texans had a rush defense that was among the worst in the league. On Monday night, the Texans allowed just 30 yards rushing, but were hurt by the receiving of the Oakland’s running backs, who combined for 199 yards receiving. “There were some missed tackles. Give them credit,” O’Brien said. “But on a positive note, we held them to 30 yards rushing. So in the last three games we’ve done a good job against the run, but last night their running backs did a good job about us in the passing game. No doubt about it.”
A positive to come out of Monday night’s game was the continued strong play of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney , the top overall pick in the 2014 draft. Clowney, who was slowed by injuries in his first two seasons, had five tackles, including two for losses, to give him 12 tackles for losses this season.
“He was very disruptive in the game even when he didn’t make a play,” O’Brien said. “He’s having a good year for us and the key for him, like all of our players at this time of the year, is staying healthy. But I thought he really impacted the game last.”
Osweiler, who has been inconsistent in his first season in Houston, wasn’t great on Monday, but O’Brien believes that he is making progress. He threw for 243 yards on Monday after managing just 99 yards passing last week in a win over Jacksonville.
“I think he played one of his better games and I think if he can continue to keep getting more comfortable, better and better with our offense you’re going to see improvement every week,” O’Brien said.
The NFL says 76,473 fans were at the game, and the atmosphere was very different from the more neutral crowd for games in London. Thousands of other football fans attended a weekendlong fan fest.
Although many wore silver and black, it was clear that the Cowboys, Texans, Steelers and Broncos also have fans south of the border.
“Besides the game, we had an excellent trip here, great experience for our players. Unbelievable crowd. Just a really cool atmosphere for both teams,” O’Brien said. “It was a great trip as far as that’s concerned.”
Before the game, there was concern that Mexican fans could boo the U.S. national anthem because of the political tension since Donald Trump was elected president, but the crowd did not .
“Certainly, having a laser zoomed in on your eyeball definitely affects how you play,” Osweiler said.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Coope gets away from Houston Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye (21) and defensive end Christian Covington (95) on his way to scoring a touchdown in Mexico City on Monday.