After all, the Texans had fallen to 1-8, losing 17-9 to the Miami Dolphins (2-7) in a game that the team was hopeful would get it back on track with Taylor’s return. Houston had struggled in the six starts rookie Davis Mills made when Taylor was on injured reserve with a left hamstring injury, and in the week leading up to Taylor’s start, Culley talked about “the lift” he hoped the veteran quarterback would provide.
Instead, Taylor completed just 24 of 43 passes for 240 yards and three interceptions. He had a QBR of 13.1. It was just the second time in his 11-year NFL career that Taylor threw three interceptions in a game, and just the second time he threw more than one in a contest.
“He felt like going into that game that he knew that if he played well, we'd have a chance to win the game," Culley said. "And he didn't. And I just want to assure him that next time around, next time we go, when we go to Tennessee, that it's going to be better. That he's going to be better, and we're going to have a chance to win if he plays like he should."
After the game, Taylor said his “uncharacteristic” turnovers were “bad decisions,” and that he needed to do better to give his team an opportunity to win the game.
“It's up to me to execute,” Taylor said. “Obviously it's a team sport. But I'm the one that touched the ball every play, and I have to be better at executing.”
Although Taylor was coming off an extended stay on injured reserve, he said he didn’t think the time off was the reason for his poor play.
“We can sit here and give him an excuse that he hadn’t played in six weeks, but he’s been around,” Culley said. “He’s practiced. He’s a veteran. We knew the situation going in. He knew the situation going in. He just didn’t play very well.”
But even though the Texans didn’t get the game they expected, or needed, from Taylor, safety Justin Reid said even the defense could see the spark the veteran quarterback provided.
“You did feel it, though,” Reid said. “With his leadership and his presence back, there was a better energy because he’s a true leader on this team and guys follow behind him and follow behind his lead.”
Now, the Texans enter the bye week with a minus-130 point differential, which is the worst through nine games in team history. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Texans are the fifth team in the past 10 seasons to have been outscored by at least 130 points in the first nine games of a season.
Taylor said the Texans need to “regroup” during the bye week and “continue to keep pushing” to finish the season, even with the team’s losing record.
Unfortunately for the Texans, when they return from their bye in Week 11, they face the Tennessee Titans (7-2), who have the best record in the AFC.
“[We] have to go out there and play the rest of the season,” Taylor said. “Take it one game at a time. Take it one day at a time. As far as hope, it's not a lack of hope. If anything, guys are eager to get out there and turn it around. I think the bye week comes at a spot where we can regroup and prepare ourselves mentally and physically to get back on the field.”