HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans will attempt to end the worst skid in franchise history in a place where they’ve never won.
Houston plays the Colts on Sunday, looking to stop an 11-game losing streak and win for the first time in Indianapolis. The Texans also have lost 11 in a row there.
Running back Ben Tate said they aren’t worried about where they’re playing this week, all they’re focused on is winning.
"If we can get it anywhere, if we play in a parking lot—just getting a win," Tate said. "I don’t think it really matters. I don’t know how much coaches are really thinking or going to emphasize that. It’s just getting a win period. I don’t care if we play them at the Galleria mall. We just want to win."
Though some Texans noted that playing in Indianapolis is louder than many places, they couldn’t pinpoint exactly why they’ve had so much trouble there.
"I have no answer for that other than we just haven’t," said Andre Johnson, who has been on the team for all but the first trip to Indianapolis in 2002.
Johnson said that the old RCA Dome was louder and more difficult to play in than Lucas Oil Stadium.
Houston has certainly had some good chances to pick up wins there, but has fell short time after time. In the early days of the franchise, they were rarely even competitive in Indianapolis. Their first six losses there were by an average of more than 19 points.
They’ve fared better since the new stadium opened in 2008 and have lost by more than a touchdown only twice. They came closest to ending the skid in 2011, but Reggie Wayne caught a 1-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left to give the Colts a 19-16 win.
"I can’t tell you that there’s one specific reason why this team has never won there," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "Obviously, we’re looking to change that. That’s never something that you want to have on your resume."
They’ll try to turn things around in the first game since coach Gary Kubiak was fired on Friday. Wade Phillips is the interim coach, and he mixed up some things in practice Wednesday in an attempt to get Houston back on track.
He also invited a Big 12 officiating crew to Wednesday’s practice. They called penalties in practice to try and limit Houston’s miscues in that area after the team piled up a franchise-record 177 yards of penalties in Thursday’s loss to Jacksonville.
"We want to over-emphasize certainly that area so that we can cut down on the number of penalties we have," Phillips said. "The only way I know how to do it is attack the problem, so that’s what we did there."
Tate thought the tactic was a good idea.
"If you don’t work on it all of the time, then how can you do it when it comes to the game," Tate said. "If you don’t have to think about it during practice, you’re not worried about getting a flag during practice, then how are you going to do it in games?"
Also on Wednesday, Phillips, who is the team’s defensive coordinator as well as head coach, revealed how the play-calling will go on Sunday. He said that offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will call the offensive plays with the help of several other coaches, and that defensive backs coach Vance Joseph will make the defensive calls with the help of Phillips.
Though, he won’t call any of the plays himself, Phillips noted that he will be heavily involved in the decision-making offensively. Phillips is 82-61 in 12 seasons as a head coach.
"The head coach (has) to be aware of situations," he said. "I think there’s a lot to game situations as far as making calls as far as whether you run or pass, whether you punt, whether you go for it on fourth down, whether you kick a field goal. All of those things come into, I think, helping to win or lose ball games, especially close games. I try to be on top of that."