HOUSTON -- In 2018, the Houston Texans became a rare team to start 0-3 and then make the playoffs. It became that much harder Sunday after the Texans lost 31-23 to the Minnesota Vikings to fall to 0-4.
Only the 1992 San Diego Chargers have made the playoffs after starting the season 0-4. But as the Texans showed on Sunday, with an inconsistent offense, a secondary that gave up big plays and a defense that again couldn’t stop the run, this team doesn’t look good enough to win the AFC South for the third year in a row.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson gave the Texans a chance late in the fourth quarter, with a touchdown pass on fourth down to wide receiver Kenny Stills and a throw in the end zone to Will Fuller that was ruled incomplete after a review with 1 minute and 15 seconds left in the game, but it was not enough for Houston to avoid falling to 0-4 for the first time since the 2008 season.
QB breakdown: Watson and the Texans’ offense picked off where it left off in Pittsburgh last week, failing to score a touchdown in the first half and struggling to move the ball consistently down the field. In the first quarter, Watson threw for just 16 yards despite playing a Vikings defense which entered the game allowing an average of 292.3 passing yards per game (30th in the NFL). Those 16 passing yards were his fewest in the first quarter since Week 1 of the 2018 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
In the loss, Watson completed 20 of 33 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Stills and Randall Cobb combined for four catches on 12 targets, with one of Stills' two receptions a touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter. Fuller led the way for Houston with six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Troubling trend: Another week, another slow start for the Texans. For the fourth game this season, Houston went three-and-out on their first possession of the game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Texans punted on each of their first three possessions of the game for the first time in 38 games (Week 15 of the 2017 season).
No takeaways: For the fourth week in a row, the Texans failed to force a turnover. Houston entered the game as one just three teams without an interception this season and the only team not to have a takeaway. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the only time the Texans had zero takeaways in their first four games was in 2005.
Repeat performance: The Texans entered the game allowing an average of 188.3 rushing yards per game, by far the worst mark in the NFL. Houston again struggled against the run, this time against Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.