Texans visit Colts desperate for 1st win
HOUSTON (AP) — A season so promising just a few short weeks ago is on the verge of falling apart for the Houston Texans.
One of only three winless teams in the NFL, the Texans are desperate to get a victory on Sunday against the Colts and try to salvage their season.
"We have to win this game," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "We just have to win."
After going 4-12 last season, the Texans had high expectations entering this year with the return of stars J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson, who both missed big chunks of last season with injuries.
Instead three straight close losses have the Texans searching for ways to escape the NFL's basement.
"These are close games and it's the team that doesn't beat themselves that ends up winning, and we've been beating ourselves too much," coach Bill O'Brien said.
It is Houston's worst start since opening the 2008 season 0-4. If you add the six games they lost to end the 2017 season, the Texans have lost nine straight. It has been more than 10 months since they won a game with their last victory coming against the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 19.
Watt said the importance of ending the skid this week can't be overstated.
"We have to," he said. "We don't have one. Haven't had one in a long time so we really need to get a win. It's very tough opponent, a very tough place to play so we have to go on the road and put our best foot forward."
The Colts aren't doing much better than Houston this season and enter the game 1-2. But the Texans haven't had much success against Indianapolis and have a 7-25 record in 32 meetings. They've had even more trouble in Indianapolis where they've won just twice in 16 visits.
Despite their struggles, O'Brien isn't worried about the psyche of his team and knows that getting a win against an AFC South opponent will go a long way toward getting things on the right track.
"We've only played one divisional game," he said. "We've got a big one this week. So, we just have to keep grinding. There's no other way out of it. There's no choice. I think when you have the role that I have, it's easy. There's no choice. You have to go to work and you have to figure it out."
For Watson, trying to end a skid is a new experience. Watson, who helped Clemson to a national title in the 2016 season, lost just two games combined in his last two seasons in college. He said this stretch has already taught him some lessons.
"Just dealing with adversity," he said. "Try to take the good with the bad and really dig down each and every week to find out what the problem is."
The problem, according to Watson and O'Brien is not paying attention to details. The Texans rank eighth in the NFL by averaging 396.3 yards a game, but are tied for 22nd in scoring with just 19.7 points a game in part because of an excessive amount of penalties and negative plays in the red zone.
Houston's three losses have been by a combined 15 points, giving the Texans hope that if they tighten a few things up they'll be able to get over the hump and into the win column this week.
"We're not that far off," Mathieu said. "We just have to do better at preparing, building up throughout the week and then on gameday, starting fast and then finishing strong. So, if we can do those things and if our five-star players could play like five-star players, then we'll be good."
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