All Houston (12-3) needed to do to clinch the top seed in the AFC was beat Minnesota (9-6) at home Sunday afternoon. Instead, the offense played its worst game of the season, and the Texans faced plenty of boos from the home crowd en route to a 23-6 loss.
Houston’s three losses have come by at least 17 points, and its average margin of defeat is 21 points. The Texans have lost two of their past three games and do not seem to be peaking as the playoffs near.
The Texans failed to score a touchdown for the first time in 106 games. The last time it happened was a 35-6 loss at Dallas on Oct. 15, 2006. Houston was unable to get its running game going, gaining just 34 yards on 16 carries. Once again, third-down conversions were an issue as the Texans went 1 for 11 on third downs. WR Andre Johnson had another productive game, catching seven passes for 97 yards. Previous game’s grade: B
The Texans did a nice job stopping the run for the most part. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson was held to his lowest output in eight games with 86 yards on 25 carries. The Texans did not get to Vikings QB Christian Ponder, sacking him once. Houston also allowed Minnesota to convert nine of its 18 third downs as Ponder routinely made plays to convert even in third-and-long situations. Previous game’s grade: A-
Special teams: B
The special teams were fine. They certainly didn’t lose the game for the Texans, but they also didn’t make any game-changing plays. K Shayne Graham made a 51-yard field goal, which was a good sign. P Donnie Jones averaged 50.4 yards per punt on seven attempts. Previous game’s grade: B
Houston blew a prime opportunity at home to clinch the top seed in the AFC and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. But the Texans will have another chance next week when they travel to Indianapolis. It will be the second meeting between the teams in three weeks, and the Texans won the first meeting 29-17. Previous game’s grade: B
Follow Texans blogger Sean Bielawski on Twitter, @CBSTexans.