The Pittsburgh Steelers rampaged into NRG Stadium on Christmas and took all the presents from under the Texans’ tree. Houston was thoroughly outclassed in the 34-6 loss.
Here are four quick takeaways from the Texans’ abysmal performance:
T.J. Yates is no Tom Savage
As painful as it was to watch Savage struggle in his half-season as the Texans starter, he was at least able to demonstrate some positive drives and attack down the field. Replacement T.J. Yates has been able to do neither in his two weeks at the helm.
Monday’s game was abysmal. No, Yates did not get help from his battered offensive line. That’s context, but not an excuse. Yates had negative passing yards in the first half and lost a fumble.
The final stat line is indicative of how punchless Yates was in the game.
The injuries never stop
Both of the Texans quarterbacks — Yates and Taylor Heinicke — were evaluated for concussions during the game. Yates returned for the second half, but Heinicke was ruled out.
Star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney left in the first half with an arm injury but thankfully returned. Return man Jordan Todman departed with a shoulder injury after halftime.
The Texans have already used more players than any other NFL team this year, and with Heinicke and David Quessenberry making their season debuts, the team has now had more players take a snap (78 according to the NBC broadcast) than any other team this decade.
Bill O’Brien’s red zone play calling needs help
The Texans produced one decent drive in the first half and did so exclusively on the ground. Alfred Blue and Lamar Miller each had big runs to get the Houston offense into prime scoring position. That’s when O’Brien got too cute for his own good.
One play after Braxton Miller ran a terrible route and Yates airmailed the ball deep into the far right corner on third-and-goal from the Pittsburgh 1, this happened:
While it did not matter in the grand scheme of the blowout loss, O’Brien’s issues with the red zone offense have been a problem all year. The Texans entered the game ranked just 24th in scoring TDs in the red zone, and it took DeAndre Hopkins’ spectacular catch to produce the only TD in this game.
Blue showed up big
Despite the utter lack of any threat of the forward pass and a jumbled offensive line, backup running back Blue somehow managed to blaze for 108 yards on just 16 carries. It was the second week in a row where Blue produced more on the ground than starter Miller, who also played well in netting 55 yards on his 10 carries. Blue’s aggressive north-south attacking style and good initial vision worked quite well.
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