Texans look ahead after loss dwindles playoff chances

By KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer
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Offensive Tackle Kendall Lamm #63 of the Houston Texans and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley #57 of the Baltimore Ravens attempt to recover a fumble in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 27, 2017 in…

HOUSTON - The Houston Texans are trying to regroup and move on after another turnover-filled performance by Tom Savage on Monday night dropped them to 4-7 and made their chances of reaching the postseason slim.

Savage led Houston to a touchdown on the first drive against Baltimore, but the Texans failed to move the ball consistently for the rest of the game and were done in by three turnovers from the quarterback in the 23-16 loss.

"It's tough. It's just a terrible feeling. It's been a season of a lot of those," coach Bill O'Brien said.

"We're going to look back on it, and I know that we had some opportunities we didn't take advantage of. We'll just have to figure out moving forward how to do a better job."

The Texans had the ball with a chance to tie it late in the fourth quarter on Monday night, but Savage was sacked by Terrell Suggs and fumbled to allow the Ravens to secure the victory.

It was the seventh fumble Savage has lost this season, which leads the NFL.

That number is concerning by itself, but is even more troublesome considering Savage has started just five games after being benched in the opener for rookie Deshaun Watson. Adding to his turnover total, Savage has thrown five interceptions with all of them coming in the past three games.

The Texans were one of the most potent offenses in the league with Watson at quarterback, scoring 30 points or more in his last five starts.

In the four games since Watson sustained a season-ending knee injury they've surpassed the 30-point mark just once, in a 31-21 win over the Cardinals last week.

Houston has lost the three other games without Watson, and the offense has been held to 16 or fewer points in each of those games with Savage committing eight turnovers combined.

O'Brien said he isn't considering a quarterback change "right now," but didn't rule it out in the future if Savage doesn't figure out a way to protect the ball better.

"We're going to sit down and watch the tape and we'll see if we can get it corrected," he said. "It has to get corrected because if not we're going to have to go in a different direction."

If O'Brien does bench Savage, the Texans would look to T.J. Yates who is the only other quarterback on the roster. Yates, who was signed after Watson was injured, hasn't thrown a pass since he appeared in four games for Houston in 2015.

The Texans haven't been eliminated from playoff contention, but their chances of reaching the postseason for the third straight season are dwindling as they trail AFC South leaders Tennessee and Jacksonville by three games.

Houston has gone 9-7 in each of the past two regular seasons to win the division, but would need to win out to match that record this season.

This team's struggles are understandable considering the Texans lost star defenders J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus in Week 5 before Watson went out for the season and rookie running back D'Onta Foreman tore his Achilles tendon last week. But despite the mounting injuries, the Texans believe they can and will improve.

"There's no sense making excuses. We just need to play better," offensive lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo said. "Now, we will try to figure out a way to get that done."

Houston's defense should get a boost this week with the return of middle linebacker Brian Cushing, who is coming off a 10-game suspension for performance-enhancers.

O'Brien said he was glad to have him back, but they'd need to catch him up on what he's missed and evaluate if he's in football shape before they decide when he'll play.

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