Fortunately or unfortunately, however you look at it, the Houston Texans just didn't have it in them this week to come back, tie it up, blow it and once again drive a stake through their fans' hearts. Instead, they simply laid down in the first quarter and never showed a pulse, losing 31-17 in Tennessee.
On the opening kickoff, they were called for a questionable late hit personal foul penalty, and then followed it with an offsides call on the first play from scrimmage. After that, the game was pretty much over.
By the end of the first quarter, they were behind 21-0 and trailed in yardage, 157-26. Kerry Collins was 7-11 for 131 with two touchdowns, while driving the Titans for touchdowns on their first three possessions. Collins still throws a good deep ball and many of his incompletions on the day were dropped passes or "just misses."
Defensively, the Texans were a sieve. After bottling up Tennessee's offense in week 12, in large part due to the Titans starting rookie quarterback Rusty Smith for the first time, and limiting Chris Johnson to seven yards on five carries, they gave up 359 total yards and close to five yards per carry.
The real surprise came on offense, though.
Houston has become known for slow starts on both sides of the ball, but Matt Schaub and company never really got started. Before suffering from muscle spasms in his glute, Arian Foster was highly ineffective, gaining only 15 yards on 11 carries, with a long of seven yards. The Titans did a great job of closing off the cutback lanes, which have been instrumental in Foster's success this year. However, when you combine the results in the running game with the four sacks that were given up, the offensive line had their worst performance of the year.
All in all, the final score didn't reflect the fact that Houston was dominated in just about every aspect of the game. An objective observer would come to the conclusion that they weren't ready to play and looked disinterested. Houston Texans fans saw the same thing, and if Twitter can be used in determining the court of public opinion, they've decided that Gary Kubiak is guilty of directing a talented team into the basement of the AFC South.
The lack of effort and result of this game couldn't have come at a worse time for Kubiak and General Manager, Rick Smith. In the same week that Bill Cowher announced he is ready to come back to coaching and lists Houston as a desired location, the Texans played their worst game of the season.
Bob McNair has made it abundantly clear that he has always admired the Pittsburgh Steelers' organization. The opportunity to reel in Cowher, who coached in the Steel City for 15 years, may be too tempting for him to pass up, especially if he can surround himself with some of the personnel staff he worked with in Pittsburgh, most notably, Director of Football Operations, Kevin Colbert.