So close yet so far

It's bye time and the only thing that's going to remove the pain of Houston's loss to the Colts is the Monday Nighter with the Titans.

It's too bad, but the Texans have earned the label of being a one-half team. Against the Colts, Bills and Arizona, it was the second half when they played well. Against the Raiders and 49ers, it was the first half. Cincinnati and Tennessee were a mixed bag. At some point the Texans will have to play 60 minutes, and when they do they will be very dangerous.

The Colts game was a chance to show the NFL world that the Texans are for real. They can't make that claim until they play more complete games. Certainly, all teams go through an ebb and flow of performance on both sides of the ball. But the Texans are making a bad habit of playing way below satisfactory on one side or the other of intermission.

Don't blame Kris Brown for the loss. Sure it would have been great to hit the 42-yarder, but that was just part of the problem. The two picks were huge. Ryan Moats fumbling was devastating at the time. Houston must finish more drives to be a playoff team. If you had told me before the game that the Texans would hold the Colts to 20 points, I would have almost guaranteed a win. Yet here we are.

This is not a bad spot to be in, by the way. Five wins after nine is their best record. The next two games are at home, where they should be able to play well. They'll be favored in at least four or five of their final seven games.

The bye week is a great time to self scout and make corrections. If the Texans are going to make the push we all want, they'll have to get the turnover situation together. Every running back is a marked man now, and Matt Schaub is coming off back-to-back two-pick games.

Good thing the defense is still smoking. Just when you thought the Colts might put up 40 points, the Texans slowed them down, forced turnovers and got off the field enough to help their offensive friends get back to work.

Houston is very close to being a playoff team, but close hardly matters when you're feeling the pain of a kick-in-the-gut loss.

Hang in there. Monday Night will arrive soon enough.

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