INDIANAPOLIS -- Before they left Lucas Oil Stadium following a third loss in their final four regular-season games, the Houston Texans talked about how they were looking forward, not back.
That’s great, in theory.
But they had better figure out what went wrong in the last month if they intend on beating Cincinnati next weekend to get to the divisional round of the AFC playoffs, a spot they once thought their postseason experience would begin.
Now if they get there, they will be taking a trip back to New England, where they were trounced, 42-14, on Dec. 10.
“This league, you play some good teams and you don’t play good, you’re going to get beat,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “You’ve got to handle it like a man and move on but we’re very capable of flipping it back the other way too and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”
Defensive end Antonio Smith suggested the team might have been satisfied when it clinched the AFC South Dec. 16 when they beat the Colts in Houston.
“Complacency can be a little bit of human nature,” he said. “You set a goal in your mind, you work so hard to achieve it. Even if you’ve got more goals to go, once you achieve it, it’s kind of like you take a deep breath. And in that moment, if you’re taking a deep breath, let’s say there is one more enemy left and they catch you at that time.
“That’s what it’s like. I wouldn’t say it’s the end of anything or we can’t get it back.”
My faith in the Texans has plummeted.
After the loss in New England, I thought: Even good teams can suffer a blowout on the road to the veteran Patriots and since the Texans were still in line to control the No. 1 seed, they were OK.
After last week’s home dud against Minnesota, I thought: Even good teams can play a dud at home against a mediocre team and since the Texans were still in line to control the No. 1 seed, they were OK.
Heading into this one, I thought: They have superior talent to the Colts and should win, but if they don’t they’ll be in trouble.
And I think they are in trouble.
On some level, I think they think they are in trouble, too.
Cincinnati’s been undervalued much of the season and has a very good defense. If the Texans don’t play significantly better on offense than they have recently, they can easily be one-and-done.