A day after the Texans' lopsided loss to the New York Giants, 'consistency' was the word at Reliant Stadium.
Through five weeks of the 2010 season, the Texans haven't had much of it.
"We've played some very good games and a couple poor ones in big spurts as a football team – very good in spurts and very bad in spurts," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We're trying to find some consistency there as a football team. That's the key to being a great football team; when you find that same level of play, that same sense of urgency every week in this league.
"That's the hardest thing in this league to find, and we're searching for that. Obviously, we've got a long way to go to get that done, but somehow we've got to find some consistency in what we're doing."
The Texans were dominant in their Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. They were getting dominated in Week 2 at Washington before completing a 17-point comeback to win in overtime.
Returning home with a 2-0 record, they lost 27-13 to the Dallas Cowboys. The next week, they gutted out a close win at Oakland despite being without several of their top players.
With linebacker Brian Cushing back in the lineup in Week 5, they had a chance to go 4-1 for the first time in team history. Instead, they were thoroughly outplayed in a 34-10 loss to the Giants.
"It's like you see different teams coming out here and playing," said safety Bernard Pollard, in a somber mood after watching game film with teammates and coaches. "We've just got to be consistent. That's been the biggest thing today."
One of the most surprising aspects of the Texans' start has been their 1-2 record at home. They have been outscored 61-23 in their last two games at Reliant Stadium. They're 5-6 at home since the start of last season, during which time they're 7-3 on the road.
"We've got to find the reason coming out of it and definitely find that spark at home," defensive end Mario Williams said. "I think Kub made a comment last week about being a little lackadaisical when we're at home because everything feels normal, everything feels relaxed, so we've just got to get it together."
Kubiak preached that message before the game in a team meeting on Saturday night.
"I thought that there's an edge sometimes when you go on the road and when you don't have your home crowd and you're not sleeping in your bed and when everything's not perfectly laid out for you during the week," Kubiak said on Monday. "I think sometimes you have a little bit more of an edge to you when you're on the road, and I told them I didn't think I saw that same edge against Dallas."
After the Texans forced a three-and-out on the Giants' first drive of the game, that edge wasn't there against New York, either. The Texans fell behind 21-0 and never got much closer than their 24-3 halftime deficit.
They struggled on defense, giving up 414 yards. They struggled on special teams, committing costly penalties that pinned them deep in their own territory. They struggled on offense, gaining only 195 yards on 52 plays. That included season lows in carries (15) and rushing yards (24) for a team that led the NFL in rushing coming into the game.
"We did a lot of things technique-wise that weren't sound, that just weren't us, that we haven't done in all the previous games that we had this season," guard Antoine Caldwell said. "For whatever reason it was, we just didn't get it done. When you look back through the film… you notice things that can be corrected. Sometimes you're going to get beat up front physically, and that happens. A lot of things we were doing were just that mentally we weren't sharp, and I figure those are some things that we can definitely get turned around for this next game."
A visit from the 3-1 Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6 gives the Texans a chance to right the ship.
"It's a sour taste in our mouth," Pollard said. "To come out there and put that on film, like I said, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. But we have a chance to try to erase this and to go pick up a win this week. We've got another team coming in here, and like Coach says, we've got to find a way to win in our backyard. We haven't done that, but we've just got to go and move forward."