Losses for Texans continue to follow familiar script

HOUSTON -- The Texans are following the same old script toward another disappointing season.

They are 5-7 for the fourth consecutive year after Thursday night's 34-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Texans have dropped five of their six games, and the recent losses have stuck to a familiar pattern, too -- they fall behind early, rally in the second half, then falter at the end.

On Thursday, for the fourth time in a five-game span, the Texans were tied or held a lead in the fourth quarter, only to give up a late score and lose.

The Texans next play the Baltimore Ravens (8-3) on Dec. 13, giving coach Gary Kubiak more than a week to solve Houston's late-game issues. The trouble is that Kubiak doesn't seem to know what else he can do that he hasn't already tried.

"We've just got to keep going," Kubiak said Friday. "We've got to find a way to continue to get better somehow, some way, with the people we've got."

In Philadelphia, the Texans trailed 17-3 in the first half, just as they did in Jacksonville three weeks ago. Houston dominated time of possession in the third quarter against the Eagles and took a 24-20 lead.

Clay Harbor then returned Neil Rackers' short kickoff to the Eagles' 40-yard line, and Michael Vick finished a six-play drive with a short touchdown run early in the fourth period to put Philadelphia back in front.

The Eagles forced a punt, then converted a third-and-19 to the Houston 24. Two plays later, Vick threw a short touchdown pass to Owen Schmitt to put away the Texans.

"We couldn't finish the deal," Kubiak said. "We went into a tough place to play against what I think is a hell of a football team and, like I said, we had control of the game going into the fourth quarter and then let it get away from us.

"That's part of this league. You get into those games, you've got to find a way to close, and we found a way not to close in all three phases. Not just one."

Houston has been outscored 68-36 in the first quarter, and outscored its opponents 82-51 in the third. Kubiak hasn't pinpointed why the Texans have gotten off to such slow starts during their recent slide following their 4-2 start.

The coach blamed the shaky defense for the bad beginning against the Eagles. Vick completed four passes covering at least 12 yards on the Eagles' first series, and another pass for 21 yards on their second on the way to a 14-3 lead.

"We played poorly on defense in the first quarter," Kubiak said. "We had the wind at our back in a tough place to play and were never able to take advantage of it. So we dug ourselves a big hole and we fought our way out of it."

Houston got the middle part of the game right again, outgaining Philadelphia 329-111 in the second and third quarters. The Texans lead the league in fourth-quarter points (99), but they rank second worst in points allowed in the final quarter (97) -- and the Eagles outscored them 14-0 in the last quarter Thursday.

"I've always tried to teach them since I've been here that it doesn't matter if you're up 10 or 14 in the first quarter or down 10 or 14 in the first quarter, you've got to play four quarters," Kubiak said. "That's what this league is all about. The good teams find a way to do that week in and week out."

For more on the Houston Texans, check out the latest from our bloggers.

Last season, Houston won its last four games to finish 9-7, its first winning record. The Texans are still within striking distance of the first-place Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South and have two divisional games left to gain ground.

Right now, Kubiak is only worried about the next game and trying to get his team to play consistently from start to finish.

"I don't know what's going to happen in the division," he said. "We're all playing each other here over the course of the next four weeks and still five weeks for a few teams. It'll work itself out.

"We've got to concentrate on trying to win our sixth game," he said, "and we've got another great team coming in here next week, and so we need to stay focused on that."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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