Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Houston
In this one, however, the Texans competed.
Case Keenum did his best to keep pace with the Chiefs, and the defense held the Chiefs offense in check after a miserable first half.
But in the end, the Texans failed to mount a comeback. As a result, they fell to 2-5 on the season, and the playoffs seem like a mirage in the desert: a dream that quickly fades as one approaches it.
Here are the grades for all significant Texans players after yet another defeat.
Case Keenum: A-
After Case Keenum was named the Texans' starter for this week, fans exploded into a frenzy of speculation.
As the debate progressed about whether it was the correct decision, two schools of thought emerged.
One claimed he would light the world on fire, breaking out in Tom Brady-esque fashion. The other believed Keenum would crumble under the pressure, unable to overcome the noise and pass rush of Kansas City.
In the end, neither side was correct.
Keenum wasn't unbelievable, nor was he terrible, but he did play a very good game that shocked most fans around the NFL that considered themselves realists.
Keenem remained poised, took shots downfield, was accurate and extended plays with his feet. In the second half, however, the Chiefs dialed up the pass rush, and due to the offensive line's inability to do anything, Keenum was constantly under pressure.
He was unable to lead the Texans to victory late in the game, but his performance was excellent and startling for a rookie quarterback making his first appearance in the NFL.
He clearly outperformed the Matt Schaub who had shown up the past four weeks. He definitely needs to be given another shot to start.
Arian Foster: INC
Arian Foster injured his hamstring very early on in the game and did not return. If he is unable to play for an extended period of time, the Texans offense will surely suffer for it.
Ben Tate: C
When Foster was taken out of the game, it was Ben Tate's time to step up and prove his worth as a starting running back. Tate, however, also got injured early in the game and did not look like himself when he returned to the game.
He had a few tough runs, but he was unable to get anything going. The Texans eventually abandoned the rushing attack.
Greg Jones: C+
Due to the injuries to both Foster and Tate, the Texans hardly ran the ball in the second half, effectively eliminating the majority of Greg Jones' playing time. When Jones is given the opportunity to block, he is a beast, but he was not allowed to make much of an impact in this one.
Andre Johnson: B+
Andre Johnson is normally a possession receiver who runs great routes, displays incredible hands and constantly hauls in first down after first down.
In this one, though, Johnson abandoned his typical role in the offense; he was struggling to get open against the Chiefs' stifling secondary. He only collected four total receptions and 42 of his 89 yards came on a huge play that was initiated by Case Keenum's playmaking ability.
Johnson still left his mark on the game despite not consistently playing like himself, as great players always manage to do.
DeAndre Hopkins: A-
Hopkins looked like the big-play receiver the Texans have been sorely lacking, catching deep pass after deep pass and scoring the Texans' lone touchdown.
Garrett Graham: C
Tight ends, especially with a rookie quarterback at the helm, are supposed to present themselves as reliable targets on each and every down.
Garrett Graham, despite having a beautiful catch and run that almost resulted in a touchdown, was unable to fulfill that role for Case Keenum. He only hauled in two other receptions that did not result in much yardage, and he was unable to dig Keenum out of the hole when the pass rush started to reach him.
Offensive Line: D
In the first half, the offensive line did a stellar job of protecting Keenum, but it also was unable to open up lanes in the rushing attack. This forced the Texans to abandon the run game early, which was supposed to be the focus of their offense.
Then, in the second half, everything went wrong.
The run-blocking was still terrible, but the pass-blocking suddenly disappeared. Case Keenum had absolutely no time to throw the ball; he didn't even have enough time to react to blitzers in order to use his mobility to extend plays.
This was a very winnable game for the Texans, but with the line's inability to prevent pass-rushers from teeing off on Keenum, the offense was unable to do anything and the game was lost.
J.J. Watt: A
After having an off-game against the Rams last week, J.J. Watt really stepped it up this week. He was a force on the field, especially in the second half after Brian Cushing went down with his injury.
He led the Texans in tackles, gathered a tackle for loss, sacked Alex Smith and batted down a pass.
It was vintage Watt, and it very nearly led to a Texans' victory.
Earl Mitchell: A
After a few weeks of not making much of a noticeable impact, Earl Mitchell recovered and put together one of the best Houston nose tackle performances in recent memory.
He was a force in the offensive backfield, picking up both a sack and a tackle for loss. He was all over the place and was giving the Chiefs' offensive line fits throughout the entire game.
Antonio Smith: D
Asides from almost pressuring Alex Smith a few times, Antonio Smith disappeared in this one. He made virtually no impact in both the run defense and the pass rush.
If Smith continues to struggle like he did this week, the Texans' pass rush will increasingly rely on Watt and will remain a liability.
Brian Cushing: INC
After suffering what appeared to be a catastrophic knee injury when Jamaal Charles dove at his left knee, it has been confirmed by John Breech of CBS Sports that Brian Cushing will undergo season-ending injury due to a broken leg and a torn LCL.
This is a crushing blow to the Texans defense, and it will haunt the team for the rest of the season.
Whitney Mercilus: D
The key to shutting down Alex Smith? Get to him fast and negate his ability to make plays happen with his feet.
Unfortunately, Whitney Mercilus, one of the Texans' main pass-rushers, was unable to even come close to pressuring Smith. He was a non-factor throughout the entire game, and he definitely hurt the defense.
Brooks Reed: C-
Like Mercilus, Brooks Reed was not able to pressure Alex Smith on a consistent basis. He was, however, much more effective than Mercilus, and he had a few nice tackles against the run.
Joe Mays/Darryl Sharpton: D-
The Chiefs ran all over the Texans, and the main reason for it was that Joe Mays and Darryl Sharpton were unable to fill their gaps and make plays.
The play of the two linebackers killed the Texans defense, and it's a scary thought that they will be the two starters going forward due to Brian Cushing's injury.
Johnathan Joseph: A
Johnathan Joseph continued his solid play, and he was one of the few members in the Texans secondary whom Alex Smith was unable to pick on.
Kareem Jackson: A
Like Joseph, Kareem Jackson was solid in coverage and hardly let anything get thrown his way. He also had several very good tackles that prevented big plays.
Brice McCain: C
Brice McCain, once again, let the Texans' secondary down. He was unable to keep up with his assignments, and Alex Smith was routinely able to throw his way.
Ed Reed: C-
Ed Reed, the supposed ball hawk who was supposed to turn the Texans secondary around, did nothing but hurt them in this one. He struggled to guard his assignments, and he gave up multiple first downs.
D.J. Swearinger: C
Making his first start this season, the Texans' second-round pick was neither impressive nor terrible. He gave up a few passing plays, but overall, he did not really hurt the Texans secondary.
Swearinger, however, is supposed to be a force against the run, and he did not do much to slow Jamaal Charles down.
Shiloh Keo: B+
Despite having an average day in coverage, Shiloh Keo had a huge interception that prevented a possible Chiefs field goal and gave the Texans a chance to win the game.
Randy Bullock: A
After struggling for much of the season, Randy Bullock looked great tonight, nailing down both of his long-range field goals and another, shorter one.
Shane Lechler: A
Shane Lechler continued to punt the ball excellently for the Texans, averaging nearly 50 yards per punt and placing three of his five punts within the 20-yard line.
The Texans' coverage, as it has been for all of this season and all of last year, was absolutely horrendous. It was almost a guarantee that the Chiefs would rip off a huge gain on each return and give their offense incredible field position.
All signs point to Joe Marciano as the cause of the coverage woes, and it is a shock that he has not yet been fired.