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Vandermeer's View: Outdueled at home

There was a moment in the Texans 42-34 loss to Kansas City where you thought everything might work out after all. Deshaun Watson's 48-yard touchdown bomb to Will Fuller V in the fourth quarter gave the Texans new life with a 26-20 deficit.

Suddenly, during an evening in which so much went wrong, Houston had a chance to pull a game out that was steadily slipping away all night long.

But the Chiefs marched right down the field and put the ball in the end zone to make it a two-score game once again. And after a Kansas City stop on the next possession, a Tyreek Hill punt return for a touchdown put the game out of reach.

It should be noted that with Watson, the game never feels unwinnable. Even on Houston's last touchdown drive, had Stephen Anderson somehow scored instead of being tackled at the one, the Texans would have lined up for another onside kick attempt with a chance to keep the miracle alive. As it was, the Texans scored with no time left to make things prettier on the scoreboard.

The upside is that this offense is really entertaining and productive. The Texans have scored a mind-boggling 124 points in their last three games, yet somehow lost two of them. The fact that they fell to two of the best teams in the AFC shouldn't be a consolation, but it does help dial down the sting just a tad.

The big problem of the night was Alex Smith. The Texans clamped down on NFL rushing leader Kareem Hunt early. But Smith constantly made them pay with surgical 3rd down conversions, often on the run. Travis Kelce, who has basically held in check here last year, turned back into his nightmarish self, catching eight passes for nearly 100 yards before being evaluated for a concussion.

Losing J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus on the same series was a punishing blow that the Texans could never rebound from. Yes, they did play a lot of bend but not break for much of the first half, but Kansas City was too hot to handle as things progressed.

It's too much to say the Texans are shifting from a defense-first team to an offensive squad. There's still plenty of available talent on defense to keep that side of the ball highly effective. But the Texans can ill afford to take any more injury hits.

The AFC South is all jumbled up with Jacksonville taking a big step forward following a convincing win at Pittsburgh. The battle for the playoffs is just getting revved up and it's going to be a bumpy ride with a lot of twists and turns. Houston needs to bounce back next week and hit the bye with an eye toward gaining consistency in the back half of the season.

Check out photos of the Houston Texans as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium.

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