Houston Texans fall to Colts, leave questions at quarterback again

What do the Texans have to do to get a win?

Mark Schlereth believes the Texans have to stop hurting themselves with mistakes in order to get a win.

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans have now gone from Brian Hoyer to Ryan Mallett to Brian Hoyer to Ryan Mallett to Brian Hoyer.


Tonight, against the Indianapolis Colts, came the latest iteration of the Texans' quarterback merry-go-round. Mallett started the game, then appeared to have the wind knocked out of him in the second quarter. Colts linebacker Sio Moore's helmet struck him in the midsection.

Mallett left the game, but only a couple plays later, he seemed ready to go back in. No-go from head coach Bill O'Brien. Hoyer stayed in and led a field goal drive. He then threw a Hail Mary touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong to end the first half. Later in the second half, Hoyer threw another touchdown pass to Strong to bring the Texans to within three.

Hoyer played very well. He completed 24 of 31 pass attempts and had those two touchdown passes. His one big mistake was a costly one -- an interception thrown under pressure with the Texans driving for a touchdown that could have tied the game just after the two-minute warning. The Texans fell 27-20.

Overall, Hoyer's performance showed that perhaps he should have had the chance to bounce back from his rough opening game.

What it means: The fans who remained rained boos down on the Texans after they let a winnable game slip away against the Colts. Historically, there have been a lot of these for the Texans, who have beat the Colts only four times in team history. Houston fell to 1-4 and are now two games back in the AFC South, where a win could have put them tied for first place.

What were they thinking? The Texans' handling of their quarterback situation is a bit baffling at this point. Tonight, the decision to go with Hoyer wasn't just been about injury -- Mallett was ready to go back in. But if O'Brien was ready to make that decision then, why not to start the game? Or why did he switch to Mallett in the first place, rather than giving Hoyer time to recover from a poor showing?

One reason to get excited: Strong got his first game action, and in it he caught two touchdown passes including that Hail Mary. Both were the result of defensive breakdowns, but this kind of game might have given Strong a jolt of necessary confidence that will stay with him as he works to make a place for himself in the Texans' offense.

One reason to panic: The lackluster starts continued for the Texans, who fell behind 13-0 before they struck back and made the game competitive. That big, early hole (though mild compared to their Week 4 game in Atlanta) can often be tough to recover from, as the Texans have seen earlier this season.

Fantasy watch: DeAndre Hopkins has a fantastic connection with Hoyer. He eclipsed 100 yards after Hoyer entered last weekend's game, and today, Hopkins and Hoyer connected well also. By midway through the fourth quarter, Hopkins had 148 yards receiving. Strong vultured his touchdowns, though.

80's revenge: Andre Johnson returned to Houston wearing a different number and a different uniform. He quickly made his presence felt, scoring the Colts' first touchdown in the first quarter and catching another touchdown pass in the fourth. Johnson hadn't even caught a pass in the prior two weeks.