The Texans had the national spotlight with Sunday Night Football at Reliant Stadium in Week 6. Unfortunately, it turned into a highlight reel for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers threw six touchdown passes, as many as Houston had allowed all season in its first five games. The Packers (3-3) won 42-24, handing the Texans (5-1) their first loss in lopsided fashion in front of an announced crowd of 71,702 at Reliant Stadium, the largest regular-season crowd in team history.
"They came in here and got after us pretty good in all three phases," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's a tough league. There are no excuses here. We got beat across the board.
"(The Packers) did a hell of a job. They deserve a lot of credit. We played poorly as a football team, so I'm disappointed in myself. We're all disappointed. We got our tails kicked."
Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, went 24-of-37 for 338 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions with a 133.8 passer rating. He threw two touchdowns in the first quarter, one in the second, one in the third and two in the fourth. Three of them were caught by wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who had a game-high 121 receiving yards on nine catches.
"(Rodgers) made some tremendous throws, and they made some great plays for him," Kubiak said. "He's a great player. I knew that coming in, but he put on a show tonight."
The Texans allowed 40 points in a game for the first time since Week 3 of last season at New Orleans. It was the most points they have allowed since a 43-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2 of the 2006 season. They allowed season-highs in yards (426) and passing yards (328) to Green Bay.
"It was shocking," Texans defensive end Antonio Smith said. "I didn't think this would be the game that it would turn out to be. (The Packers) played a heck of a game.
"This type of loss is going to ignite something and we're going to find out what type of team we are."
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw two interceptions and was sacked three times, matching his season totals in both categories. He lost for the first time in his last 10 starts dating back to last season.
The Texans' struggles in the running game continued. Arian Foster scored two rushing touchdowns but had only 29 rushing yards on 17 carries (1.7 average).
"We couldn't really run the ball, so we had to pass it," left tackle Duane Brown. "We couldn't really make plays."
The Texans trailed 14-0 after the first quarter, 21-10 at halftime and 28-17 after the third quarter. It was the first time they trailed after any of the first three quarters all season.
"That wasn't us, and that is not the way we play," said defensive end J.J. Watt, who had two sacks in the loss. "We faced a quarterback who puts the ball on the money every single time. We didn't enough pressure on him. We didn't get enough hits on him. He beat us. He had a great game."
Twice, the Texans committed special teams penalties that extended Packers drives and led to touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver DeVier Posey lined up offsides on a punt in the first quarter, giving the Packers a first down. On the next play, Rodgers threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson past cornerback Johnathan Joseph to make the score 7-0.
On the first series of the third quarter, outside linebacker Connor Barwin was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for leaping as he tried to block a 39-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. That gave the Packers a first down at the Texans' 11-yard line. Then, after an 11-yard pass on third-and-14, safety Danieal Manning was flagged for unnecessary roughness to set up the Packers in first-and-goal. Rodgers threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Nelson two plays later, making the score 28-10.
"We basically gave them 14 points," Kubiak said. "The first possession of the second half, we're in a 21-10 ballgame, we gave them three possessions (because of the penalties)… That's discipline. Discipline starts with me. It's my job to put people out there that can handle it and do the right things. Obviously, I didn't get that done tonight."
The Packers led 14-0 after a diving six-yard touchdown catch by James Jones in the final minute of the first quarter. Foster scored on a one-yard run in the second quarter to cap a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive.
It was 21-7 after Nelson caught a 21-yard touchdown past cornerback Alan Ball midway through the second quarter. Texans kicker Shayne Graham made a 51-yard field goal with 2:15 left in the first half.
Foster scored on another one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to make the score 28-17. Packers receiver Randall Cobb returned the ensuing kickoff 46 yards, and Green Bay scored three plays later on a 48-yard touchdown catch by tight end Tom Crabtree, who was wide open after Rodgers rolled out to his right.
Schaub was picked off at the Houston 27-yard line two plays later. Jones made a juggling, one-handed 18-yard touchdown catch past cornerback Kareem Jackson with 12:22 remaining.
"We had a good game plan coming in," Texans linebacker Brooks Reed said. "I don't know. It's hard to explain. We have to watch the film. There are some plays where they heaved it up and made great plays. They beat us one-on-one. We couldn't get to (Rodgers) and bat it down."
The Texans scored with 5:35 left to play on a blocked punt by outside linebacker Bryan Braman that Posey recovered in the end zone. The Packers and Texans put in their backup quarterbacks after that for the game's final five minutes.
At 5-1, the Texans still have a share of the best record in the AFC with the Baltimore Ravens, who visit Reliant Stadium next Sunday.
"It's very disappointing to go out in front of our home crowd on Sunday night and have it turn out the way it did," Schaub said. "We didn't play up to our standard, up to our level of expectations that we have around here across the board. That's everybody.
"We're going to have to take a hard look at it and put it behind us. The good thing is it only counts as one. We're going to have to re-focus tomorrow, watch the film, be hard on ourselves and go out and correct the mistakes that we made and get ready for Baltimore."