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Texans overcome offense’s ineptitude

After quarterbacking the expansion Houston Texans to the biggest win in franchise history, rookie David Carr found it arduous to crack his million-dollar smile.

“You kind of have mixed feelings right now,” said Carr, who completed 3 of 10 passes for 33 yards. “You won the football game and I should be happy, but we didn’t do anything. We went backwards. We would have been better staying on the bus.”

On a day when Houston’s defense played as well as any in the league with three touchdowns scored — two on interception returns by Aaron Glenn — in a 24-6 victory, the offense dubiously put itself in the record books. Houston gained just 47 yards, which is the fewest total for a winning team in NFL history. The Steelers nearly outgained Houston by a 10-1 ratio with 422 yards.

“I haven’t seen any final stats, but I’m sure they aren’t pretty other than those takeaways,” said Texans coach Dom Capers, whose first-year expansion team is 4-9.

The Texans offense came into Sunday’s game at Heinz Field ranked last in the NFL. And it only fell further into that abyss as it recorded just three first downs, averaged 1.2 yards per play and had six running plays lose yards. They also allowed four sacks, pushing the league-leading number of times Carr has been dropped to 68.

“The whole game didn’t even feel like I played,” said Carr, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft. “We had some plays in there where we had some chances to make some plays, but the protection would break down or guys would just get beat.”

And even when given great field position, the offense would have been better kneeling three times. The Steelers’ Antwaan Randle El fumbled a punt and gave Houston the ball at the Steelers 20 and the chance to push its lead to more than a touchdown with 3:57 to play. But the offense lost 5 yards on three plays and pushed Kris Brown back to a 43-yard field, which he made to give Houston a 17-6 lead.

“This whole game I felt bad for (the defense) because we couldn’t do anything,” Carr said.

Houston’s offense was so bad that Capers and his coaching staff slashed the playbook from conservative to ultra-conservative in the second half to stay away from turnovers (the Texans’ only turnover came on special teams).

“For us to win football games, we are going to have to depend on our field goal kicker, kicking game and our defense,” said Capers, a former Steelers assistant. “In our four wins, the defense and kicking game have contributed tremendously.”

Carr believes that if the coaches would have kept the entire playbook at his disposal, the offense would have been more productive.

“Towards the second half of the game, we played not to lose,” Carr said. “I think we could have been a little better, you hope, because we have been in the past. When you get in a situation like that, you don’t want to screw it up. We didn’t want to mess it up for our defense and lose the football game.”

The offense’s problems stem from having six rookies on the unit and the season-ending injury to Pro Bowl offensive tackle Tony Boselli didn’t help matters.

The Steelers defense deserves some credit.

“When you have six rookies out there, that makes it difficult, and I think we went against a pretty darn good defense today,” Capers said.

But still, the Texans were 1 of 12 on third downs and only had two plays gain more than 10 yards.

“We should (apologize to the defense),” Carr said. “They should take their game ball and throw it at us.”


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