Vandermeer's View: Stunned in the Steel City


Adversity has reached full throttle. Three losses in a row have put Houston in a ditch that they must climb out of fast or this season could slide permanently into the abyss.

The latest setback was one that you didn't see coming. Not so much the loss itself but the way

it happened. What are the odds that the Texans would surrender a 24-0 run in back to back games?

Don't answer that.

For a while, it felt like it was their night. They were beating up the legendary franchise on a national stage. But then, they let go of the wheel and spun out of control (I like to use a lot of metaphors, in case you haven't picked up on that).

It was bad enough that Ben Roethlisberger led his offense to 10 unanswered points to pull his team within three late in the first half. But two Houston turnovers, an Arian Foster fumble and a Ryan Fitzpatrick pick, gave the Steelers goal-to-go field position and the game capsized.

The Texans found themselves in what's become an all too familiar setting, needing to come back from a double digit deficit. They eventually cut it to seven and nearly recovered an onside kick for a shot at a game tying touchdown. Nearly.

Each of the last three games were 'winable.' It's not like the Texans are getting blown out of the building or they don't compete. They fight, they claw, they punch. But they also make mistakes that hurt themselves and ruin their day.

Turnovers, penalties and missed assignments have all contributed to the last three defeats. This is clearly a performance issue and Bill O'Brien must get it fixed.

In two the last three games, Houston has had the ball late with a chance to either tie or take the lead. Don't be fooled by numbers. This team can win. They just haven't played up to their full potential.

Sunday now becomes the latest pressure cooker. It's back to the division in a game that must be had to hit .500 at the halfway point. Get it done and there are plenty of possibilities on the table. Fail and it's a piercing fifth loss and a two game hole to get back to even money.

This team has more going for it than you might think. Dallas is the toast of the NFL and your team had a reasonable chance to pull out an overtime win. The Colts are rolling yet your team spotted them 24 points and had the ball twice late in the game with a chance to win. The Steelers were down two touchdowns before the Texans let them up for air then started coughing up the ball.

There's much to do. Cleaning up penalties and reducing turnovers isn't like flipping a switch. But it isn't insurmountable to make the needed improvements to finish the job more often than not and put together a run toward a winning season.

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