Texans improve, but come up short as skid reaches 9 games
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans haven’t been embarrassing in their past two games as they were the previous two.
Still, the improvement hasn’t equaled a win as the Texans (1-12-1) are mired in a nine-game skid, their longest since dropping the final 14 games of the 2013 season.
Houston lost 30-24 in overtime to Kansas City Sunday, a week after a 27-23 defeat by the Cowboys. Those close losses came after lopsided defeats to Miami and Cleveland with Kyle Allen at quarterback after Davis Mills was benched.
“There are some positives to build on,” coach Lovie Smith said. “That’s what I expect the guys to do. I expect them to show up and fight like that throughout. Eventually, you’ve got to get over the hump.”
On Sunday the Chiefs (11-3) got the ball first in overtime but were forced to punt after Patrick Mahomes was sacked by Blake Cashman on third down. Mills fumbled on a scramble on Houston’s first play, and it was recovered by Kansas City’s Willie Gay on the Texans 26.
Jerick McKinnon then dashed untouched into the end zone on the next play to give Kansas City the win and leave Houston without one since beating the Jaguars Oct. 9.
“It’s tough,” said rookie tight end Teagan Quitoriano, who had a TD reception Sunday. “It feels like no matter how hard we try, the football gods are against us. But we’re just going to keep coming to work and come back next week hungry.”
The Texans moved their offense well by using a two-quarterback system of Mills and Jeff Driskel for a second straight week. Mills plays a more traditional role in the system and Driskel runs a wildcat-style offense on his snaps.
Mills had 124 yards passing with two touchdowns against the Chiefs. Driskel had just two throws for 8 yards, but the wrinkle seemed to help keep Kansas City’s defense off-balance.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Houston has done a lot of things well in the past two weeks, but isn’t content with simply improving and must find a way to finish. Smith said he talks often with his players about being able to make the big play when the game is on the line, and he hopes they’ll be able to do that in these last three games.
“At this level moral victories aren’t really a thing,” Driskel said. “We go into every game, expecting to win, thinking we’re going to win the game ... and we just got to figure out a way to do that.”
Running back Royce Freeman had 11 carries for 51 yards Sunday in his first game of the season. He was promoted from the practice squad Saturday after rookie Dameon Pierce, who led the team with 939 yards rushing, was placed on injured reserve.
Though Mills and Driskel working together has helped improve Houston’s offense, the turnover by Mills in overtime sealed another loss. He’ll have to take better care of the ball for the Texans to end their skid.
WR Brandin Cooks missed a third straight game with a calf injury but could return Sunday. ... WR Nico Collins was out for a second game with a foot injury Sunday.
502 — Houston allowed the Chiefs to pile up 502 yards Sunday. It’s the second time this season the Texans have allowed more than 500 yards after giving up a season-high 517 in a tie with the Colts in their opener.
The Texans will try to end this dreadful season on a positive note as they return to AFC South play for the remainder of the season. They visit Tennessee on Saturday before hosting Jacksonville on New Year’s Day and ending the season at Indianapolis Jan. 8.
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