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Wrap-up: Vikings 23, Texans 6

12/23/2012

Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 23-6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at Reliant Stadium:

What it means: The Texans came out flat and never got into gear against Minnesota, which played very solid defense against Houston. It was the Texans’ first loss of the season to a team that’s not a guaranteed playoff participant. And Houston lost an ideal chance to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Texans still clinch a first-round bye if the Denver Broncos lose to the Cleveland Browns this afternoon. If the Texans win next week in Indianapolis, they will still clinch home field throughout the AFC playoffs as Denver is the only team with the potential to match Houston at 13 wins and Houston holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.

What I didn’t like: Where was the spark? Where was the fight? It was a disappointing effort. The Texans' two previous duds this season came against high-caliber teams in the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. This was an entirely different deal. To hold the Vikings’ singular weapon, Adrian Peterson, to 86 rushing yards and get beat by Christian Ponder throwing and running and by a defense that started the day 18th in total defense was hard to swallow. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle says it’s the first time since Matt Schaub was traded to the Texans in 2007 that they have not scored a touchdown in a game he’s played.

Injury concerns: Running back Arian Foster didn’t finish the game after he went to the locker room with an irregular heartbeat, coach Gary Kubiak said afterward. Kubiak said Foster is fine and it’s something that happened once before in practice. Outside linebacker Brooks Reed returned from a layoff due to a groin injury but appeared to injure it again and didn’t finish the game.

What I don’t understand: If Quintin Demps was demoted from the third safety, why not move away from the three-safety package while preparing? I remain thoroughly unconvinced that Shiloh Keo is good enough to be on the field as part of Houston’s defense.

An illustration: Kevin Walter nearly took a third-quarter catch into the end zone but was correctly ruled down just short. The Texans had three shots to get in from short range and couldn't. Schaub took a big sack on third down, forcing Houston to settle for its second field goal.

What’s next: A big game in Indianapolis against the Colts where home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs will be at stake for Houston, which has never won at the RCA Dome or Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts can control whether they are the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC field, determining where they travel for their first-round playoff game.