Head coach Gary Kubiak made an unexpected quarterback switch during Sunday's 28-23 loss to the Oakland Raiders, replacing Case Keenum with Matt Schaub. Schaub, who had not played since October 13 against St. Louis, took over with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter and the Texans trailing 28-17. Kubiak felt Schaub would be better suited to handle the increased tempo heading into the end of the third quarter.
"What was happening was, we had to make a lot of changes from a protection standpoint to handle some of the things they were doing," Kubiak said. "Trying to create some tempo and do that and it made it very tough on Case, in my opinion, being a young player. I knew that Matt could get done some of the things that I wanted to get done, real fast, and to give us a chance to win the football game. So that's why I did it."
Keenum completed 13-of-24 passes for 170 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and a 73.3 passer rating. Following two Houston turnovers in the first quarter, Keenum connected on a 42-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Graham. It would be Houston's only offensive touchdown of the game.
In the second half, the Texans offense was unable to gain momentum, being forced to punt on its first three possessions. In an unexpected move, Kubiak benched Keenum in favor of the veteran quarterback.
"I was surprised, obviously came into today expecting to play well," Keenum said after the game. "I felt like I prepared extremely well. I had a good feeling coming into this week. I didn't make the right plays at the right time, and I couldn't keep the offense on the field in those critical third downs."
Heading into the fourth quarter, Kubiak wanted to run a faster-paced offense in order to chip away at Oakland's two-score lead. Kubiak told Schaub that he would be playing shortly before he began warming up on the sideline.
"It was right before I went in," Schaub said of hearing the news. "The series right before, he said something. It was a quick turnaround…so I only got a few throws before I got to go back out there."
Schaub led the Texans on two drives that ended in field goals but was unsuccessful in finding the end zone on the final drive of the game. Houston had a fourth-and-goal with 1:15 remaining but turned the ball over on downs after Schaub's incompletion to Andre Johnson in the end zone. Schaub was 12-of-25 for 155 yards and a 67.9 passer rating.
"It gets back to, I'm looking at the turnovers and looking at them being good in the red zone and us being bad in the red zone," Kubiak said. "We were really bad on third downs offensively as a team. Still, if we can line up and make a yard at the end of the game, we win the football game. But we didn't do it."
With the loss, Houston falls to 2-8 on the season and will face the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday.