Kubiak Watch On After Texans' Collapse
Unhappy fans leaving in droves in the fourth quarter -- that's not what McNair envisioned when he launched his expansion franchise in 2002 and built his football palace in downtown Houston.
Three consecutive losses left the typically upbeat McNair frowning, and no wonder -- the latest failure was the worst, a crushing 35-27 collapse to the Colts at Reliant Stadium that saw Indianapolis rally from a 13-point halftime deficit and erased anything positive that came from the Texans' promising 5-3 start.
Now Houston is 5-6 and no longer an impressive team, despite the Pro Bowl passing potential of quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson. It is a franchise in free fall, and another 8-8 finish with no postseason simply will not satisfy frustrated Texans players and impatient fans.
Sometime soon, someone will have to be accountable for these mistake-filled lapses -- the goal-line fumbles, the missed Kris Brown field goals, the second-half defensive breakdowns -- that have cost McNair and his Texans too many games this season. And yes, that guy is fourth-year head coach Gary Kubiak.
"Disappointed. We lost a big football game and we just played very poorly in the second half," said Kubiak, whose team had a 17-0 lead in the second quarter but surrendered two touchdowns -- Peyton Manning's 6-yard scoring pass to Dallas Clark and linebacker Clint Session's 27-yard interception return off an errant Schaub pass -- in a dizzying span of 18 seconds in the final period.
In their previous two games, the Texans' late breakdowns had been heartbreaking.
They lost 20-17 on the road to the Colts on Nov. 8 when Brown whiffed on a 42-yard field goal attempt. Following a bye, Brown cost his team another game by the same margin when he missed a 49-yard attempt with six seconds remaining against the Titans.
But Sunday's meltdown was absolutely devastating, both in scope and succession.
"This isn't the first time this has happened to us," Johnson said of the Texans' second-half nosedive that saw Indianapolis (11-0) score 28 unanswered points. "It's just real frustrating. I'm very upset with myself. It's kind of sounding like a broken record but you have to find a way to play for four quarters."
What was the difference between the two halves?
"We just didn't make any plays," said Johnson, who caught five passes for 67 yards but didn't see the end zone.
Schaub's performance was emblematic of the day: He completed 14 of 17 first-half passes for 152 yards, including a 7-yard scoring pass to fullback Vonta Leach, for a passer rating of 123.5. In the second half, Schaub threw two interceptions and one touchdown, and his passer rating dipped to 87.8. He also lost a fumble when he was strip-sacked by Colts defensive end Robert Mathis.
The Colts came in giving Houston every advantage: Indianapolis played without five starters, including All Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney (abdomen), and Manning (27 of 35 passes, 244 yards, three touchdowns) tossed two first-half interceptions.
But the Texans hurt themselves with three costly pass interference calls that pushed Indianapolis out of its deep hole and onto an NFL-record seventh consecutive season with 11 or more regular-season victories.
"Everything was right there for us," Slaton said. "We played a good first half. We settled for a couple of field goals when I think we should have been able to put 7's on the board. I think that kept the score closer than it could have been at halftime."
Kubiak shouldered the blame afterward for his team's costly lack of consistency.
"I know I've tried to answer that (inconsistency) a few times but bottom line -- that's my job, to find some consistency in the team," he said. "We played very well in the first half and the second half we had penalties. We jumped offsides ... we turned the ball over three times. That's on me.
"I've got to find a way to get these 45 guys to play consistent and obviously we have not."