The Houston Texans’ losing streak was extended to 13 games this past Sunday as they lost 37-13 to the Denver Broncos. The Texans need a win in the season finale at Tennessee to avoid matching their franchise-record worst record of 2-14 from 2005.
This has been a disappointing downfall for a team that won the AFC South the last two seasons and went 12-4 last year before injuries and poor play led to coach Gary Kubiak’s firing. “Nobody’s throwing in the towel,” receiver Andre Johnson said. “We’re just going to keep playing. We’re going to keep fighting, and hopefully it will work out for us on Sunday.”
Peyton Manning led Denver with a big fourth quarter. He regained his NFL record for most touchdown passes with 51 all while throwing for 400 yards and four touchdowns. He threw three of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He surpassed the 50 touchdown passes Tom Brady threw. Manning had previously established the record by throwing 49 touchdown passes in 2004.
Matt Schaub started for the first time since Oct. 13 in place of an injured Case Keenum. He finished with 176-yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Schaub, benched for Keenum after a terrible six games, admitted that he has thought about the possibility Sunday was his last time to play in Houston. “It has definitely crossed my mind,” he said. “I didn’t want to think too far ahead, but I’ve played this game long enough to know how things work.”
This was Schaubs second-lowest mark of the worst season of his professional career. He bottomed out at a 32.2 Week 5 against San Francisco when former coach Gary Kubiak thought the Texans had officially bottomed out and Schaub set an NFL record by throwing a pick-six in four consecutive games.
With one week left, Schaub has totaled 12 interceptions and just 10 touchdowns in nine games (seven starts). Schaub told his teammates mid-week he was proud to be the Texans starting QB again. He only received the opportunity because Keenum tore a ligament in his throwing thumb. When Schuab took the real field, back-to-back three-and-outs announced his return. “Matt’s a great player. If he’s not here, he’ll get another opportunity. Matt can start in this league. He’s done it for (seven) seasons,” Andre Johnson said. “Sometimes a fresh start could be something beneficial. You hate to see it, because when you build chemistry like that with somebody, you hate to see it go. But thats just the nature of the business. We’ll see what happens.”
Andre Johnson finished with four catches for 63 yards. He has 103 catches this season to reach 100 for the fifth time in his career. This mark ties a NFL record for most seasons with at least that many receptions.
“It’s all fine and dandy,” Johnson said of the record, “but I only play the game for one reason, and that’s to win. Its a great thing to happen, but under these circumstances it really doesn’t matter.” Johnson entered the game needing one catch to reach the mark held by Wes Welker. He did it on a 33-yard reception in the first quarter. Johnson also had more that 100 receptions in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2012.
Defensive end Antonio Smith is playing in the last year of his contract, and he knows Sunday might have been his last game at Reliant Stadium. Considering the Texans are in line for the #1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft and South Carolina’s defensive end Jadaveon Clowny is a likely favorite, Smith’s reign as a Texan may be coming to an end.
“I really can’t believe it,” Smith said about the loss to Denver being the last home game of the season. That was the biggest shock. It hit me in the fourth quarter when they were running down the clock. “This was the last game of the season, possibly the last game I’ll ever play with my brothers in front of the home fans in Houston. It’s surreal, but I guess it’s reality.”
The Texans have been good at losing all year. One more defeat, and a team that’s dropped a franchise-record 13 consecutive games will be rewarded with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Texans nearly secured the selection Sunday, when they held up their end of the bargain by losing to the Broncos. A late rally by the Dallas Cowboys knocked off the Texans-like Washington Redskins, who are still one win better than the Texans. If the Texans lose in Nashville and/or the Redskins win, the Texans will clinch the No. 1 pick. If the texans win and Washington falls, resulting in both teams finishing the year at 3-13, the Redskins will be rewarded with the first pick because their easier strength of schedule. (.520 compared to the Texans’ .567).
The 2014 draft will be held May 8-10 in New York.