Since then, they've allowed just 35 total points during a four-game winning streak and put the Texans (6-5) in the thick of the playoff race.
Their latest win may have been the defense's best performance. They held the New Orleans Saints without a touchdown for the first time in a decade in a 24-6 victory on Sunday.
''We just had enough of playing like that,'' linebacker Brian Cushing said. ''We started simplifying things and playing hard. Just had a bad taste in our mouth from a couple of those games and just internally promised each other it wouldn't happen again.''
J.J. Watt had seven quarterback hits and two sacks to push his NFL lead to 13 1/2. He would have had another, but Drew Brees threw the ball into the turf while Watt wrapped him up and was penalized for intentional grounding in the second quarter.
New Orleans (4-7) dropped its third straight on a day when the team didn't score a touchdown for the first time since 2005, snapping a streak of 155 games. Brees' streak of games with a touchdown pass ended at 45.
The last time the Saints didn't score a touchdown was Dec. 24, 2005 against Detroit. Brees' last game without a touchdown pass came on Nov. 29, 2012 against Atlanta. His streak was the fifth-longest in NFL history.
''That's a long time,'' Watt said. ''That's a very high-powered offense with a very good quarterback and very good coaching staff ... so it's everybody doing their job. Everybody up front, on the back end executing their assignment, knowing what they're supposed to do and doing it very well.''
Houston has won four in a row for the first time since winning six straight in 2012 and remains tied with Indianapolis for first place in the AFC South.
Some things to know about the Saints-Texans game.
HOYER'S RETURN: Houston's Brian Hoyer returned after missing last week's game with a concussion and threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns. It was the sixth time in seven games that he had at least two touchdown passes. Hoyer went 7 for 7 on the opening drive. He capped it with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Griffin to give Houston a score on the opening possession for the first time this season. The Texans pushed the lead to 14-0 when Hoyer threw a shovel pass to Cecil Shorts for a touchdown on Houston's second drive. Hoyer completed his first 11 passes before he was intercepted by Jairus Byrd.
DREW'S DAY: Brees was 25 of 44 for 228 yards on the day his touchdown streak ended. It was the fifth-longest streak in NFL history.
''I can't say we didn't have our chances,'' Brees said. ''The three times we were in the red zone, we kicked a field goal in the first half. In the fourth quarter we were down there in more of a: `We got to score' mode. I felt like we had a chance both times we didn't score to come away with a touchdown. Credit to them, but there is some execution that can be better from that.''
JACKSON'S ROADBLOCK: Houston's Kareem Jackson returned after missing four games with an ankle injury and intercepted Brees at the goal line in the third quarter and returned it 50 yards. He might have gone all the way, but 6-foot-5, 266-pound Jadeveon Clowney got in his way while blocking downfield, allowing the Saints to catch up and bring him down.
''I didn't know if I was going to block back or block in front,'' Clowney said. ''They were closing in on me real fast ... I was stuck.''
CAREER DAY: Since the Saints couldn't get in the end zone on Sunday, they relied on Kai Forbath for their only points. The kicker made a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter before hitting a career-long 57-yarder just before halftime.
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