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Texans' secondary targeted in loss

Posted Oct 10, 2010

The Texans struggled in defending against the pass on Sunday against the Giants, and look to improve upon that in the games to come.

The Texans keep saying they can’t afford to keep giving up large amounts of passing yards. And then it happens again.

The young Texans defense has allowed more yards through the air than any team in the NFL this season and that trend continued Sunday in the Giants’ 34-10 rout of the Texans. 

Eli Manning followed the lead of every quarterback the Texans have faced this season.  He came out throwing and he was still passing even after the outcome was out of doubt.

“It’s not good enough right now,” coach Gary Kubiak said of the Texans pass defense. “We’re giving up 300 yards a game right now and that’s not good enough.  This team (Giants) had a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and they continued throwing the ball on us so that tells you what they thought of our pass coverage.  We’ve got to figure a way to get better at it.”

It’s true. Manning completed 27 of 42 passes for 297 yards and three touchdown passes, the last with 4:50 to play on a 4-yard pass to Steve Smith.

A dejected Bernard Pollard saw no reason to disagree with the Giants’ strategy. 

“At this point why argue,” Pollard said. “So obviously right now, they’re coming down with the ball. You look at every team that we’ve played; they are coming down with the ball. When the ball’s in the air, we’ve got a find a way to stop these passing attacks.”

Rookie cornerback Kareem Jackson was harassed all day by Manning and receiver Hakeem Nicks, who caught a 12-yard touchdown pass in the end zone with no defender within five yards.

Nicks was continually behind Texans defenders. He was in the clear down the sidelines in the second quarter, having beaten Jackson, and uncharacteristically dropped the likely touchdown pass. 

“Where do we go from here?” Jackson said. “The only place you can go is back to the drawing board. They made plays and we didn’t.  That’s it.”

The Texans had managed to rally behind its offense for a 3-1 record going into the game.  This time, the offense couldn’t pull it out.

Not even getting his first NFL interception eased Jackson’s mood.

Jackson made his play in the third quarter when he leapt high in front of a pass intended for Mario Manningham for an interception. He returned it 23 yards and it set up a one-yard touchdown by Derrick Ward.

“When you don’t win, that doesn’t matter,” he said. “At the end of the day, you want that ‘W.’  We didn’t (get it), so that doesn’t matter.”

The Texans defense came into the game ranked last in the NFL against the pass, allowing 337.8 yards per game. They ranked second in the league against the run, allowing 70.2 yards per game, but who cares if teams can pass at will?

“We have to find a way to win and until we do, these kinds of things are going to continue,” Pollard said.

Pollard noted New York’s passing in the fourth quarter.

“That tells you something about our pass defense, that tells you what they think about our pass defense,” Pollard said. “Obviously, they feel they can’t stop it. They feel if the ball is in the air they are going to come down with it.”

Giants coach Tom Coughlin wouldn’t say Manning targeted Jackson. He didn’t have to.

“I don’t know if we really put a 'star' on him,” Coughlin said. “But we did end up going over there some.” 

“Nothing was good enough today,” Kubiak said. “You can’t get too ahead of yourself when you win a game and you can’t go jump off a cliff when you lose one. The tough thing today, I’d like to be talking about something we did good and I don’t know that we did anything good.”

There was plenty of disappointment to go around the Texans' locker room.

“We knew it was going to be a physical game, they were the best team today,” cornerback Glover Quin said. “We just didn’t make plays. They didn’t do anything that we hadn’t seen on film. We didn’t tackle well on defense and playing a team like this you can’t give them opportunities. We have to be more physical. Those are things we didn’t do today.

“I’m very shocked. I didn’t expect it to go down like that.” 

The defense had a couple of good series to start the game before the Giants quickly took control.

“We put ourselves in too deep a hole early,” cornerback Brice McCain said. “We couldn’t come back. We’ve worked out butts off. We just have to stop the deep balls. We’ve got to get better.”

Troy Nolan got his first start at free safety but afterward couldn’t find much positive.

“We fought the whole game because we’re not going to give up,” Nolan said. “We’ve got to be more consistent in the secondary. We can’t go one week on and one week off. We’ve got to find a way to make it work. Once we do that, we’ll be OK. We just have to be consistent.

“It was a lack of concentration, lack of discipline. When that happens, your opponent is going to exploit you. You get down a couple of plays and it’s hard. You have to fight behind the whole game. It was mental errors, penalties got us behind.”

Hicks caught 12 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. He could have had a third score when he was once again behind Jackson along with sidelines and dropped the ball.

“I took my eyes off it trying to get to the end zone,” Hicks said. “I saw all that green grass trying to get there.” 

The grass was greener all day for the Giants.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky., Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro teams.

Content on HoustonTexans.com does not necessarily represent the views of the Houston Texans front office staff, coaches or executives.