The most alarming aspect in the latest installment of Texans collapses wasn't the game itself. Rather, what's most frightening is just how customary this has become under the leadership of head coach Gary Kubiak.
In this week's edition, the lion's share of blame goes to quarterback Matt Schaub and the offense, which embarrassingly didn't move beyond midfield in the entire second half until an irrelevant drive against a prevent defense in the final two minutes.
Against a Colts defense missing Dwight Freeney and Bob Sanders -- and after moving at will in the first half while putting up 20 points -- it was completely unacceptable, yet simultaneously so predictable.
"This isn't the first time this has happened to us," said wide receiver Andre Johnson, who dropped a point-blank touchdown pass in the first half that would have put the Texans ahead 21-0.
After the Texans (5-6) took a 20-7 lead to the half, the Colts (11-0) answered with two touchdowns to take a 21-20 lead midway through the final quarter.
Then, the Texans responded as they have many times before. Fullback Vonta Leach dropped a wide-open pass in the flat on first down, putting the Texans in a long passing situation on second down. Indianapolis linebacker Clint Session jumped the route, intercepting Schaub and running it back for a touchdown to make it 28-20.
On the following drive, the Texans moved the ball near midfield before the offensive line broke down against a defense missing its elite pass rusher in Freeney. Schaub was stripped, the Colts recovered and four plays later, Colts reserve running back Chad Simpson broke four tackles en route to a 23-yard touchdown -- completing the meltdown and likely eliminating any playoff hopes.
Looking at the big picture, though, it would be irresponsible to place the blame at the feet of any one particular unit or personnel. For the first three weeks of the season, it was the team's defense that was historically bad. In the past two weeks, it was the Kris Brown fiasco. In between, blame bounced from Steve Slaton's fumbleitis to Owen Daniels' injury to underachieving seasons from the likes of Mario Williams, Dunta Robinson and Duane Brown.
In the end, outside of one game in Cincinnati, it all comes back to one common thread -- the Texans simply do not put together a consistent effort in all three phases for 60 minutes. And it's difficult to point the finger anywhere else besides Kubiak and those in leadership positions.
"That comes back to me," Kubiak acknowledged after the game. "I've got to figure out how to find some consistency in what we're doing."
It's not to say that the players don't deserve some responsibility. Certainly they do, and it would be very different if it were one particular unit consistently making the same mistakes. But when the offense is good enough to excel against the Colts in the first half this week and the second half three weeks ago, it's hard to believe it's a personnel issue causing the meltdowns in the other halves.
It comes down to focus, schemes and adjustments, and those areas fall largely on the shoulders of Kubiak and his staff. "I thought when we reached some adversity... you need to come right back, and we didn't do that," Kubiak said.
It's a remark Kubiak has offered similar variations of on numerous occasions this season, drawing immediate skepticism and eye-rolling in the press room by many in the Houston media contingent.
And if they're that frustrated, just imagine owner Bob McNair.
Come January, it's hard to imagine McNair responding to his organization's adversity in the same ineffectual manner Kubiak has for the past three months. Sadly, that's probably the next Texans-related event fans have to look forward to.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.