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Winless Texans search for ways to turn things around

September 23, 2018

HOUSTON (AP) — With J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson healthy and back on the field for the Houston Texans, expectations were high they’d turn things around after last year’s dreadful season.

Instead, Sunday’s 27-22 loss to the New York Giants put them into an 0-3 hole and had coaches and players searching for answers.

“We’ve got to figure something out,” Watt said. “I told the guys in there: ‘We’re at the bottom. You’ve got to find a way to claw your way out of the bottom.’”

Deshaun Watson threw for 385 yards and two scores, but his interception was one of two second-half turnovers by the Texans, off to their worst start since dropping their first four games of 2008.

The Texans fell behind early and trailed by 14 at halftime. They’ve struggled in the first half of each of their losses this season and have scored just 19 points combined in opening halves before getting going in the third and fourth quarters. But each time they’ve come up just short, with all their losses by a touchdown or less.

No one can seem to pinpoint why they have been incapable of starting fast.

“If I was a psychic ... I could tell you,” receiver DeAndre Hopkins said.

One of the big problems for the offense has been penalties, with the unit being flagged for several false starts and holdings on Sunday. Right tackle Julien Davenport was the worst offender and had three false start and two holding penalties.

“It’s the story of penalties, mistakes,” Davenport said. “I don’t know how many penalties I had, but way too much. Hurt this team badly. I’ve got to eliminate it all.”

The Texans finished 4-12 in a 2017 season when Watt broke his leg in Week 3 and Watson sustained a season-ending knee injury after the seventh game. Both players looked good Sunday, but the two and the rest of the Texans were left frustrated that their return hasn’t equated to success.

“You’re 0-3 and it’s not a good place to be,” Watt said. “You have to find a way to win. You have to find a way to figure out what each of us can do better. I’m not going to give you some P.C. answer here — it (stinks). We don’t want to be here. Nobody wants to be here.”

Safety Tyrann Mathieu, chosen a team captain in his first season in Houston, said it’s important for the team’s veterans to set a good example so things don’t begin to snowball.

“When things don’t go right, it’s a lot of noise outside the building and then guys start creating noise in their own heads,” he said. “We just have to cut back on having guys separate from the team, even though we haven’t had the start we wanted to.”

Coach Bill O’Brien shouldered the blame for Houston’s latest loss, which extended the team’s losing streak to nine games dating back to last season. He repeatedly said he must do more and make better play calls if the team hopes to turn things around.

“I just try to think of ways to get us out of this,” O’Brien said. “I know that it starts with me ... I’ve got to figure out how to do a better job. It’s as simple as that.”

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