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Late-season collapse leaves Texans without a bye

    2012-12-31 18:11

(Eds: Adds details, quotes. With AP Photos.)
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Texans should have been spending this week enjoying a bye.

Instead, a late-season collapse where they lost three of their last four games has left them with a short week to fix many mistakes before hosting Cincinnati in a wild card game Saturday.

Houston had two chances to secure a bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Consecutive losses to the Vikings and Colts to end the regular season kept the Texans from getting either.

Coach Gary Kubiak believes his team will turn things around this week.

``We didn't handle the end of the season the way we wanted to handle it, but that doesn't mean that we can't handle these playoffs the way we want to handle it,'' he said. ``We understand how we have to play.''

Kubiak said he's most concerned with inconsistencies in several different areas. He's unhappy that the Texans haven't been able to run the ball successfully throughout games recently. Houston had 102 yards rushing in Sunday's 28-16 loss to the Colts, but only 25 yards came before halftime.

``We have to have a consistent day where we get out there and run the ball 30 times like we're accustomed to doing and what we do best, and that hasn't happened,'' he said.

The problems in the running game have contributed to Houston's recent trouble on third down. The Texans have converted just 15 of 49 third-down attempts in their last four games.

But the problems aren't only in the running game. Matt Schaub has struggled in this stretch, throwing three interceptions and just one touchdown pass in the last four games. However, Kubiak, himself a former quarterback, was quick to point out that many factors are to blame when the quarterback is having problems.

``There are a lot of plays to get a quarterback going and make it look a lot better from the standpoint at the end of the game statistically that could help him,'' Kubiak said. ``But at the same time he's got to do things better. And I'm up there searching all I can to put him in a better situation to be successful.''

Kubiak has also been left scratching his head as to why the Texans have been committing so many penalties in the last six games after doing well in that area through the first 10 games of the season. Houston had nine for 64 yards on Sunday.

``It's driving me crazy to be honest with you,'' Kubiak said. ``It's a lot of things going on right now, and that's at the top of the list. We had nine yesterday, and I think probably four of them were giving people first downs. ... It's a problem. We're addressing it, we're working on it. But it's got to get solved.''

When Kubiak was asked whether the penalties meant that his team was undisciplined or unfocused he first simply replied, ``that hurts,'' before continuing.

``When you're having too many penalties that's a discipline issue and that's on me, the coach,'' he said. ``I take full responsibility for that and I've got to get it fixed.''

The Texans also had trouble on defense Sunday. Like the offense, the defense has also struggled on third down. Andrew Luck threw a 70-yard touchdown pass on third-and-23 in the fourth quarter Sunday to put the game out of reach.

``We've given up some plays in situations that we shouldn't,'' Kubiak said. ``Getting off the field has been a problem defensively.''

Kubiak is looking for more pressure up front this week to help make things easier for his young secondary.

Despite the recent disappointment, the Texans (12-4) finished with their best regular-season record in franchise history. Now Kubiak says they're refocused and ready to move forward.

``We've got to go out there and make the plays to get all that mojo going back in the right direction,'' he said. ``The only people that can get it done are the coaches and the players. We're back at it and looking forward to getting started (Tuesday).''

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