ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – David Culley was so frustrated and angry after the most lopsided loss in franchise history that his bellowing voice resonated through the walls of the Houston Texans’ locker room.
Minutes after his overmatched football team’s 40-0 blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium, the Texans’ fired-up coach could be overheard yelling in an adjacent interview room.
The 1-3 Texans’ third consecutive defeat was ugly enough that Culley’s reaction was predictable.
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This was the worst loss in franchise history as far as the scoreboard, even worse than a 45-7 defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2017 season.
Rookie quarterback Davis Mills was intercepted four times, passing for just 87 yards in his second NFL start.
The Texans committed 10 penalties for 100 yards, just nine yards less than their total offense production. as they finished 1 for 9 on third down and rushed for just 48 yards. The Texans averaged 2.6 yards on their 42 plays and turned the football over five times. The 109 yards of total offense represents the third-lowest total in franchise history.
After addressing the team, Culley didn’t crank down the intensity.
“For whatever reason, I did not have them ready to play,” Culley said. “I’ve got to do a better job. Our coaches have got to do a better job. We got outcoached and outplayed. The bottom line is we just played bad football, and that starts with the head coach.”
The Texans played in dreary conditions that matched Culley’s mood, and his players. It was a thorough beatdown executed by a Super Bowl contender that won three games last season.
The Texans had no answers for 6-foot-5, 237-pound Pro Bowl quarterback Josh Allen, who completed 20 of 29 passes for two touchdowns, 248 yards and a 103.8 passer rating. The Bills also rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns, pounding the football against the Texans’ weary defense 40 times
“I don’t think it was the weather,” Culley said. “We made some bad decisions. We just didn’t play very good football, and it had nothing to do with the weather.”
Mills completed just 11 of 21 passes for 87 yards and was sacked three times. He had a dreadful 23.4 passer rating, the third-lowest in franchise history.
“It wasn’t on him,” Culley said. “It’s not just Davis, our whole entire offense did not play well today. We just played bad football.
“The quarterback handles the ball. He made a couple of throws I wish he’d had back, but you can put Joe Montana out there, and the way we played, we’re not going to have success on offense.”
By halftime, the Texans were down 16-0 and Mills had completed just 1 of 7 passes for 3 yards with two interceptions and a 0.0 passer rating.
In the first half, the Texans had one first down. One. And they had eight net yards on 22 plays. It was as ugly as it could get.
“It’s actually embarrassing when you lose how we lost,” linebacker Christian Kirksey said.
The six first downs is the Texans’ second-lowest in franchise history, three more than they had in a Dec. 8, 2002 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers when they scored twice on defense.
“I felt like we shot ourselves in the foot a couple times with turnovers and penalties,” Mills said. “We can’t let a loss like this pull us apart. We have a really long season ahead of us. It’s only up from here. We’ll take that as a plus.”
The penalty situation severely aggravated Culley, and rightfully so.
“That’s an undisciplined team, and that starts with me,” Culley said. “That’s way too many penalties. A lot of times we had positive yards, and we ended up getting a penalty here, and a penalty there. Pre-snap penalties are always bad for us. It puts us in bad situations, and we’re not able to overcome those things.”
Because the defense was relatively stout, the Texans hung in there and prevented this game from getting even worse at the start of the game.
They eventually wore down, though, as the Bills built a commanding time of possession advantage of 38:15 to 21:45.
The Texans were down 19-0 after three quarters, but gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter. That included a touchdown run by backup quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
“From a defensive standpoint, we fought, we fought and we fought, but we’ve got to be better to win,” said defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who recorded his third sack of the year. “If you take a look at time of possession, that’s an issue. You’re on the field a little bit too long, guys get gashed. They’re a good football team, and they’ve got guys that can make plays
The Texans finished with 61 net passing yards as Mills lost 26 yards on his three sacks. He also fumbled once, but recovered the football.
“Early in the game, I thought our defense did a nice job of holding them when we turned the ball over,” Culley said. “That’s not the way we’ve been playing. I told the players to hang in there, and we’re going to get that corrected.”
In the first quarter, Culley was aggressive and went for it on 4th-and-3 at the Bills’ 6-yard line. Mills’ pass intended for running back David Johnson in the flat was deflected by defensive end Jerry Hughes.
“We needed seven points, not three points,” Culley said.
The Texans averaged 2.7 yards per run, and 2.5 yards per pass.
“Just bad offensive football, no consistency,” Culley said. “We have to be able to stay on the field consistently on first and second down. We weren’t able to do that. And it’s not just our upfront people.
“I think if we don’t turn the ball over and do the things we’re supposed to do we have a chance, but not the way we played today. When you don’t do that, you get your butt beat like we did.”
Now, the Texans have lost three games in a row heading into next Sunday’s home game against the New England Patriots.
“That’s one of the most embarrassing losses I’ve ever had,” Texans linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill said. “We’re all embarrassed. We’re not happy with this at all, but we are going to come in and correct. We are going to fix this.”
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