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Texans Win By Losing To Jets?

Come April, Houston will benefit from this meaningless loss in November

After producing the NFL's oddest outlier of the season last week, the Houston Texans returned to Earth Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Life without the benefit of four interceptions and a muffed punt inside the opponent's 10-yard line returned alarmingly normal and routinely unsuccessful in a 21-14 defeat. Seemingly eons removed from the shocking upset of the 8-2 Tennessee Titans, the Texans found ways to lose to the 2-8 New York Jets.

Houston actually looked the part of a deserving favorite early, getting touchdown passes from Tyrod Taylor to Brevin Jordan and Brandin Cooks for a 14-3 lead. But that's where the out-of-body experience ended.

Taylor threw an interception and was sacked five times. The Texans committed four penalties. Kai Fairbairn missed a 55-yard field goal. And without the luxury of last week's five takeaways (they only got one off Jets' rookie quarterback Zach Wilson), the Texans' punch-less offense failed to score over the game's final 40 minutes and their final seven possessions.

That ineptitude, mind you, came against a Jets' defense that entered allowing a league-worst 32 points per game.

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More painful than most, given the circumstances?

"They're all painful,'' said Taylor.

To his credit, coach David Culley continues to tinker during a season that essentially ended more than two months ago. He cut running back Phillip Lindsay and split Sunday's carries between Rex Burkhead and David Johnson, almost rushing for 100 yards (96) as a team. He shook up the offensive line, starting former first-round pick Tytus Howard. He benched veteran Justin Reid after the safety had a disagreement with coaches last week.

Said Culley on  Reid: "We have rules and when rules are broken we make decisions, it doesn't matter who it is.'

But, let's be honest, despite the come-from-ahead loss in which it coughed up an 11-point lead at home to the NFL's worst team this side of Detroit, the Texans won on Sunday. This season - as expected - is merely an elongated audition for 2022 and beyond.

After this loss, the Texans are 2-9 (tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars) and the Jets 3-8. In November, it's a bummer. Come draft position next April, it will be beneficial.

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