The Houston Texans will try to break their club-record 11-game losing streak today when they meet the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Texans have never defeated the Colts in Indianapolis, going winless in 11 tries.
Their last loss in that string came in the final game of the 2012 season, when the team had a chance to wrap up the top playoff seed in the AFC. But they turned in a totally listless performance in a 19-3 loss that capped off a 1-3 finish to the schedule.
This time the goal is to get their first win in three months. Over the last seven games, that possibility has come so close it is remarkable the Texans have yet to break through.
Actually, it has been historic.
Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, 16 teams have lost 11 or more games in a row. Not a single one has gone through a seven-game stretch and come anywhere near the combined 29 points that have kept Houston out of the win column.
That’s right, during the seven games Case Keenum has started, the difference between winning and losing has been a total of 29 points. The closest any other team came to such a slim average margin of defeat over the course of a seven-game skid was the San Diego Chargers in 2000, which lost the last seven games of their 11-game streak by 58 combined points.
Here's a rundown of the Texans' last seven losses:
- Kansas City, 17-16
- Indianapolis Colts, 27-24
- Arizona Cardinals, 27-24
- Oakland Raiders, 28-23
- Jacksonville Jaguars, 13-6
- New England Patriots, 34-31
- Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-20
Another unusual fact is that Houston led the NFL in fewest yards allowed for nine straight weeks and still couldn’t eke out a win. But the singular nature of this dubious accomplishment goes even further.
They have allowed the fewest yards per game of any of those 16 teams, along with the second-fewest points per game. The leader in that category is the 2000 Chargers.
The difference between winning and losing can come down to a bounce of the ball or a turnover. This takeaway category is another in which the Texans have struggled, as their nine turnovers created is the fewest of any team in the NFL.
It's this number that is perhaps the most telling of Houston's overall performance in 2013.
Their turnover drought started about the same time as their 1-3 swoon at the end of last season. With only four takeaways over those four regular-season games and the two playoff contests combined, the Texans lost the knack for disrupting their opponent’s offense and setting up their own for easy scores.
That drought has persisted into 2013 and helps explain why they have constantly gotten close enough to catch a whiff of victory but have been unable to taste it.