HOUSTON -- Christian Kirksey didn’t hold back.
Sporting a bandage on his face after suffering a cut in a loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Texans’ veteran linebacker and defensive signal caller didn't mince words following a 24-9 loss at NRG Stadium.
The Texans allowed 407 yards of total offense as Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold passed for 304 yards and rushed for two touchdowns. The Panthers lost star running back Christian McCaffrey with a strained hamstring, but still rushed for 117 yards and three scores. The Texans missed nine tackles, according to Pro Football Focus analytics.
“We just didn't execute,” Kirksey said. “Missed tackles. They were just making the plays that they were supposed to make, and we're not making the plays we're supposed to make. That's pretty much all you can say about it.”
The Texans had three sacks and five quarterback hits, an uptick in the pass rush.
However, they struggled to cover wide receiver D.J. Moore. Moore caught eight passes for 126 yards on a dozen targets.
And running back Chuba Hubbard, substituting for McCaffrey, rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries for an average of 4.7 yards per run.
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For the season, the Texans already have 33 missed tackles. That includes four apiece for linebacker Zach Cunningham and Eric Murray and three apiece for Justin Reid, Desmond King and Terrance Mitchell.
“It's all will and want-to, attitude,” said Kirksey, who has 22 tackles and just one missed tackle in three games. "That's what it boils down to. I mean, in-season, it's really nothing magical to do to help a team tackle better. It's just attitude, grit. By any means, get the person down. So, we just got to continue to strive to do that and just play ball.”
The Texans fell to 1-2 overall and are in a two-game losing streak since their season-opening win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. They are preparing for a tough matchup Sunday on the road against the Buffalo Bills, a team led by star quarterback Josh Allen.
Although the Texans have made some obvious improvements on defense under new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, there’s still more work to be done to have the kind of defense the team envisions.
“That's the fine line between losing and winning, getting over that hump and in close situations coming out on the other side,” Kirksey said. “That's the league. But it's definitely on the bright side showing that we have the talent. We have the guys in the room to go out there and compete, and now we just got to figure out how to get over to the other side.
“Like I was telling my guys in the locker room, it's not time to panic. It's not time to worry about anything. We're sitting here at 1-2. We still got a lot of football left in front of us. We still got all our goals right in front of us, and it's very reachable.”