HOUSTON -- In hindsight, Houston Texans coach David Culley acknowledged Monday that he wishes he had declined a penalty during a narrow loss to the New England Patriots that would have involved accepting a touchdown along with gaining crucial additional time for the offense to make a late comeback attempt.
By declining the illegal shift penalty during Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson’s touchdown run in hopes of defensive coordinator Lovie Smith's defense forcing a turnover on ensuing downs, Culley set the stage for the Patriots burning through most of the remaining time on the clock before kicker Nick Folk connected on the game-winning field goal in a 25-22 comeback victory Sunday ... and a come-from-ahead loss for Houston (click here).
“I should have declined the penalty,” Culley said Monday during a press conference at NRG Stadium. “If I had to do it over again, I would have declined the penalty."
Ultimately, the Texans didn’t force a fumble in the fourth quarter after cornerback Terrance Mitchell dislodged the football at the goal line in the second quarter on a Damien Harris run. Harris lost a fumble against the Miami Dolphins earlier this season.
The Texans were already out of timeouts. After two consecutive runs, Folk made the 21-yard field goal. The Texans got the football back with 15 seconds to play, and the game quickly ended as the Patriots scored the final 16 points of the game.
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“If I had to do it again, I would have allowed them to score and then, later on in that series, we had talked about allowing them to score,” Culley said. “One of the reasons we didn’t allow them to score the second time when they ran the ball is this team early in the year against Miami had fumbled a couple of times down there. Their backs had some trouble holding onto the football.
"We had already gotten one punched out. Our defensive staff felt like, ‘Look, there is a possibility that we could get one punched out.’ We didn’t get it punched out and then again, I should have allowed them to score.”
Now, the 1-4 Texans are mired in a four-game losing streak heading into an AFC South division road game against the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Well, we’re 1-4, that’s not what we expected,” Culley said. “I’ve got to do a better job of making sure on those kind of decisions that I put our football team in the best situation to have a chance to win. Whether we would’ve had a chance or not, the way our offense had played when we were doing things right, to give them more time to be able to have a chance at the end of the game to score a touchdown to win, would’ve been the best thing to do for us.”