Ron Dayne finished Sunday's game with 62 rushing yards, but got stopped in many short-yardage situations.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak spent Monday reviewing film of the 26-16 loss in Atlanta. He found a few redeeming moments, but the head coach chiefly studied the costly mistakes the team will begin correcting this week.
Correction #1: The Texans must convert on third-and-ones, especially in the red zone.
"We punted twice yesterday and we punted because we couldn't make a third-and-one," Kubiak said. "If not, we're staying on the field, that's keeping our defense off the field. That's very concerning."
Even more concerning was that the offense failed to convert on third-and-goal in two different series in the fourth quarter, effectively costing them the Texans the game.
"There's no reason for us not to make the first one. I think Ronnie (Dayne) should make that first down. The next one, we don't do a very good job up front of knocking them off the ball. In this league, when it's third-and-one, it doesn't matter if everybody knows where you're running, you better be able to get one and stay on the field."
When the Texans trailed 23-13 in the fourth quarter and faced third-and-goal from the one-yard line, quarterback Matt Schaub threw an incomplete pass and the team had to settle for Kris Brown's 19-yard field goal. On another third-and-goal from the one, Kubiak called for a pitch to running back Ron Dayne, but Dayne bobbled the ball and lost seven yards.
Correction #2: With Ahman Green still nursing a bruised knee, Dayne had to shoulder all of the team's rushing duties. Dayne finished the game with rushing 62 yards, but was stopped too many times in short-yardage situations. Kubiak admitted those stops forced him to call for Schaub to pass at the one-yard line.
"We threw on fourth-and-one after we got stuffed on the third-and-one, and then we threw the ball on the third-and-goal down there," Kubiak said. "I hate to say that I sit here and lose confidence. What happens is, during the course of the game when you're calling a game, it's in the back of your mind that you've been stuffed a couple of times running it, so you try and come back and do something different."
That doesn't mean the head coach has lost confidence in his running game. In fact, Kubiak wants to be even more aggressive pounding the ball next Sunday.
"We have to run the ball in those situations," he said. "If I called a pass because I was unconfident in us making that yard, then I'm wrong. I can't do that. I have to send a message to our team that we're going to line up and run the football. Will we throw it in short yardage? Yes, we're going to do that. We're going to be aggressive, but we're not going run away from that situation. If we have a third-and-short this week, we have to line up and run the ball."
Corrections #3, 4: The Texans had seven penalties for 78 yards compared to Atlanta's two for 20, and the game was the second in a row in which the Texans did not cause a defensive turnover. Kubiak said the team can't give up that much yardage on penalties, and the defense has to go after the quarterback and create more turnovers.
"We talked about that as a team today; when our defense gets turnovers, we have a much better chance of winning," Kubiak said. "We had none in the last two weeks and we continue to turn the ball over on offense. Winning the turnover battle is something that we have to have to be successful, and it's obvious that we haven't been able to do that the last two weeks."
Linebacker DeMeco Ryans said the defense must regain its focus to get the job done.
"We weren't close and I think it's just a matter of being focused," Ryans said. "I don't think we were as focused as we were the first two weeks coming out of the gates. Now, we really have to make a real conscience effort of trying to get the ball out early on, not just when it's late in the game and we're trying to get the ball back to our offense."
Injury update: Schaub deeply bruised his thigh Sunday, but should be fine for Wednesday's practice. Green, who did not dress against Atlanta, is making progress with his sore knee and could return to the field this week.
"I think he's close," Kubiak said. "Will he be out there Wednesday? I don't know. I know he's doing better. I spoke to him earlier today; we'll just continue to treat him and we'll know more when we step on the football field Wednesday if he comes out there and practices."
Wide receiver Jacoby Jones' separated shoulder has been healing quicker than expected, and the rookie could possibly get a few reps in practice.
Fellow wideout Andre Johnson is also healing quickly, regaining strength and mobility in his sprained left knee. Johnson is anxious to get back on the field, but he said he knew the team was in good hands with André Davis starting in his place.
"I told him before he left that he'd have a 100-yard game," Johnson said. "Right before I walked out the locker room, I told all the receivers good luck. He was getting dressed and I tapped him on the shoulder, I was like, 'You know, you'll have a 100-yard game.'"
With Davis hauling in 117 receiving yards, Johnson might need to tap every Texans' shoulder this week.