The Texans fell 48-21 to the Atlanta Falcons after trailing by as many as 42 points at the Georgia Dome. Despite Arian Foster's return to the starting lineup, the Texans offense struggled mightily until later in the third quarter, when Brian Hoyer entered the game. Houston scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter when Hoyer led the team on three consecutive scoring drives.
Mallett completed 12-of-27 for 150 yards and one interception before his exit. Hoyer was 17-of-30 for 232 yards and threw touchdown passes to C.J. Fiedorowicz and Cecil Shorts III. DeAndre Hopkins led the receivers with nine catches for 157 yards.
J.J. Watt and Jared Crick each had a sack on Matt Ryan. The Texans defense also had three passes defensed, courtesy of Jadeveon Clowney and a pair from Watt.
Three first-half turnovers resulted in three Atlanta touchdowns. The Falcons scored 28 unanswered points before halftime while the Texans got within scoring range just once, but kicker Nick Novak missed the 53-yard field goal.
Houston's defense couldn't contain Falcons running back Devonte Freeman, who found the endzone three times. Ryan was 19-of-27 for 256 yards and one touchdown. Ryan left the game early in the fourth quarter after Atlanta pull out to a 35-point lead. Sean Renfree finished the remainder of the game under center for the Falcons.
Mallett's first pass of the game was a 15-yard completion to Foster but three plays later, a batted ball resulted in an interception. The Falcons took an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Freeman scored on a 16-yard touchdown run.
Freeman's second touchdown of the day, on a 23-yard run, came early in the second quarter, giving Atlanta a 14-0 lead with 14:39 left in the second quarter.
Minutes later, a Foster fumble resulted in a defensive touchdown and Ryan added his first touchdown pass of the day on a pass to Leonard Hankerson. Houston quickly fell into a 28-0 hole by halftime.
The Texans didn't fare much better in the third quarter. Atlanta added two more offensive touchdowns in the third quarter and Mallett exited the game soon after.
Hoyer, who entered the game with 2:56 left in the third quarter, threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Fiedorowicz on his first series to put Houston on the scoreboard. Hoyer's deep 42-yard pass to Shorts, had Houston at the goal line on the following drive. Chris Polk added the second touchdown of the day, and his first as a Texan, on the touchdown run that capped off a 10-play, 75-yard drive. Texans chipped away at the Falcons' lead, down 42-14 with 9:09 left in the game.
Hoyer connected with Shorts for his second touchdown pass of the day with 3:01 left in the game. With just 0:01 remaining, the Texans were in the redzone looking to score again, but Atlanta forced a fumble on Shorts and scored on an 84-yard return.
With the loss, the Texans fall to 1-3 and will next face the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night.