HOUSTON (AP) — Again and again on Sunday against Atlanta, the Houston Texans failed to get in the end zone and settled for field goals.
They finally scored their only touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons used a last-second field goal to get a 21-19 victory.
Houston (2-3) was left to lament its missed opportunities after settling for four field goals before rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud orchestrated the late TD drive.
“Third down wasn’t good enough, red zone wasn’t good enough,” coach DeMeco Ryans said. “We needed to get points there and we didn’t. Credit to Atlanta; they have a really good defense and did a really good job of forcing us to kick field goals in those positions.”
Stroud, the second overall pick in the draft, was disappointed that the Texans couldn’t finish drives this weekend after combining to score 67 points in their previous two wins.
“It is hard when you live in third-and-long,” Stroud said. “I think (Sunday) was probably our worst day in third down and that’s on me. I’ve got to take completions and be better on third down. It’s hard playing on third-and-10-plus in the NFL.”
The Texans converted just 4 of 13 third down opportunities Sunday after completing 50 percent of those chances in a win over the Steelers last week.
While Stroud took responsibility for Houston’s inability to score touchdowns against Atlanta, a much bigger factor than his performance was the team’s struggles in the run game.
The Texans have had a tough time running the ball all season and rank 27th in the league by averaging just 82.6 yards rushing a game. They managed just 64 yards rushing Sunday after running for a season-high 139 yards against Pittsburgh.
“We have to get it going,” Ryans said. “Keep running it. We have to block it better, and we have to run it better.”
Stroud’s early success continues to make Houston’s passing game one of the league’s best. He threw for 249 yards Sunday to give him 1,461 yards passing this season, which ranks third in the NFL entering Monday.
The 22-year-old has also been great at taking care of the ball and set an NFL record for pass attempts without an interception to start a career this weekend. His 186 attempts without a pick passed Dak Prescott, who went 176 attempts without an interception to start his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Houston’s defense allowed a season-high 351 yards passing Sunday after holding the Steelers to just 111 yards a week before.
Ryans said the Texans were in the right position to make plays against Atlanta but failed to finish. That’s something they’ll have to clean up if they hope to improve this week.
“We’ve got to play with better eye discipline when you’re in a spot and you have to make a play,” Ryans said.
“There were a lot of contested catches that they came down with, and we didn’t. We’ve just got to find a way for playmakers to step up and make plays in those situations.”
Safety Jalen Pitre. The 2022 second-round pick had his best game of the season Sunday. Pitre had 11 tackles, knocked down a pass and recovered a fumble in his second game back after missing two weeks with a bruised chest.
“He always seems to find himself around the ball,” Ryans said. “And that’s what I love about him.”
WR Robert Woods. The veteran had several drops Sunday and finished with three receptions for just 30 yards. The outing came a week after he had 26 yards receiving in the win over the Steelers.
WR Tank Dell is in the concussion protocol and Ryans said he’d know more about his status later in the week. … Woods sustained a rib injury in the third quarter.
3. After giving up 11 sacks through the first two games, the Texans haven’t allowed a sack in three straight games. It’s the first time in franchise history that Houston has had such a streak.
The Texans must complete drives and clean up their passing defense before hosting a New Orleans team Sunday that is coming off a 34-0 rout of the Patriots.