Texans' playoff chances slipping away with Tom Savage at QB

LOS ANGELES -- The Houston Texans hoped that giving quarterback Tom Savage a full week as the starter would give him a shot at a better performance than his start against the Indianapolis Colts a week ago, when he had taken over late in preparations from an injured Deshaun Watson.

And although Savage and the Texans kept it close against the Los Angeles Rams in the first half, a 33-7 loss showed that this team is not good enough to be a playoff contender after losing Watson for the season with a torn ACL on Nov. 2.

The Texans got off to a 3-4 start under the rookie quarterback but were in games late -- and the losses came to good teams, including the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. In Sunday’s blowout loss to the now-7-3 Rams with Savage at quarterback, the Texans showed they are not competitive with good NFL teams.

"It's on the quarterback when we put up seven points," Savage said. "It's on me."

Midway through the second quarter, Savage led the Texans down the field, throwing a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Bruce Ellington. At one point on that drive, Savage was 10-of-15 for 95 yards. He finished 18-of-36 for 221 yards, with a touchdown and a passer rating of 54.0.

The fourth-year quarterback threw a red zone interception late in the second half when the Texans had a 7-6 lead, and another with less than five minutes to go in the game. Savage also had a pair of fumbles, ending the game with four turnovers and another couple of close calls. Savage expressed frustration that he turned the ball over so many times, saying, "you're never going to win a game with four turnovers."

The Texans finished with 283 yards of total offense and 17 first downs against the Rams after accumulating 188 yards and 11 first downs by halftime.

Savage continued to target wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had seven catches for 111 yards on 14 targets. Savage was without wide receiver Will Fuller for most of the game after Fuller was hit hard in the second quarter while attempting a catch on a short pass in the middle of the field. Fuller, who entered Sunday ranked second in the NFL with seven receiving touchdowns, had two catches for 15 yards before he left the game.

"It always hurts [to be without Fuller],” Savage said. “He’s a dynamic player to take the top off the defense and I hope he’s alright."

Last week, coach Bill O’Brien said the Texans are “behind the eight ball” but “still in position" for a playoff run. Mathematically, Houston is still in contention for its third straight AFC South title. But now at 3-6 and three games behind the division-leading Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, the Texans’ season is slipping away.