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HOUSTON – The Houston Texans couldn't beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now they've got to deal with Tom Brady and one of the best teams in the NFL.
Houston's losing streak stretched to nine games with the loss to the Jaguars. They'll have to find a way to regroup before the AFC East-leading Patriots come to town on Sunday to avoid seeing the skid reach 10.
Case Keenum and Houston's offense were largely ineffective against the Jaguars. But coach Gary Kubiak said on Monday that he's sticking with Keenum as his starter this week.
"We've got to find a way to eliminate some of the mistakes and some of the things that are happening to him," Kubiak said. "I think those will happen as he continues to play. You just, you want to find a young man some success."
Keenum has lost all five of his starts, but Kubiak has been impressed with the fact that the undrafted free agent has had the team in each of the games. Houston has lost each by a touchdown or less.
He said that Keenum is growing and that he expected him to have some struggles as defenses adjusted to him. He added that the veterans on the offense need to step up their play to help Keenum get through his first season.
"That's a good message because if ... you got a young quarterback with some young guys around you, it's easy to get too concerned with what they're doing and what they're not doing and not do your job," Kubiak said. "We just got to all stay focused on our job."
Keenum threw seven touchdowns with no interceptions in his first three starts, but has tossed two interceptions with just one score in the past two games.
Houston is now tied with three other teams for the fewest wins in the NFL with just two. Veteran Andre Johnson, who has been with the team since its second season in 2003, can't believe how bad things have gotten for the Texans.
"It's been tough. It's been frustrating," he said. "If I had to bet my life I wouldn't think we would be in this position."
While Keenum struggled on Sunday, perhaps a bigger problem for the Texans has been their inability to run the ball. With Pro Bowler Arian Foster out for the season after back surgery, the Texans have relied on Ben Tate. But Tate has been slowed by broken ribs for more than a month.
Houston managed just 77 yards rushing against Jacksonville with Tate gaining only one yard on seven carries.
"I don't know if he ever got into a rhythm with what he's doing," Kubiak said of Tate. "We know what he's going through. He's not practicing during the week, he's just playing on Sundays. So I know that's tough ... but I think Ben will bounce back."
Kubiak was encouraged by the play of Dennis Johnson, an undrafted rookie who had 74 yards rushing against Jacksonville. He said their running game this season has also been hurt because they've been behind in almost every game and been forced to throw the ball more than they'd like.
After losing to a team that entered the game with just one win on Sunday, some questioned whether the Texans were playing hard. As bad as things are for this team that has made the playoffs the last two seasons, Kubiak insists that he still sees the same intensity from his team that he has in past seasons. But he's left to search for why that intensity isn't equating to more wins.
"I see a lack of confidence at times and that goes with the lack of success," he said. "You're always trying to do more, but I think our guys are battling. We need some things to happen that would help our confidence. So we'll keep working to get that done."
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