HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans know they still control their own destiny in the AFC South with two games against the Titans to close the season, but their 38-24 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday was a "bad day all the way around," according to head coach Bill O'Brien.
"I don't think there was anything very good," O'Brien said. "I take full responsibility for that. Just did not have this team ready to play. Thought I did. But I thought wrong."
The Texans allowed rookie quarterback Drew Lock, who was making his second career start, to throw for 309 yards and three touchdowns. The Broncos finished with 391 net yards, including a season-high seven plays that went for 20 or more yards. Denver scored on its first five possessions, taking a 38-3 lead with 9 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 28 of 50 passes for 292 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also had two rushing touchdowns to give himself a career-high seven on the season. All three of Watson's touchdowns came after the Texans trailed 38-3, and O'Brien said while he thought his players "tried to keep completing," the Broncos just had too big of a lead at halftime.
Houston's loss to Denver was the first game in which Watson has attempted 50 passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It is also the first time a Texans quarterback has recorded 50 pass attempts in a game since Ryan Mallett in 2015.
O'Brien said the Texans need to not only improve their pass defense, but also cannot continue to have pre-snap penalties and poor ball security. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who the Texans acquired from the Miami Dolphins before the start of the season for two first-round picks, had another three false start penalties Sunday. Entering Week 14, Tunsil led the NFL with nine false starts.
"I've got a target on my back," Tunsil said. "Got to fix it."
Why does Tunsil think that?
"Been called too many times," he said. "Bulls--- calls."
Tunsil said he talked to an official about the calls because he was "trying to figure out what I was doing wrong."
"He said I was leaving early," Tunsil said. "Target on my back, like I said. Keep it simple like that. Next question."
Last week, the Texans had a big victory over the New England Patriots that gave them at least a chance of finishing with a No. 1 or 2 seed and a first-round bye. But after the Texans' loss to the Broncos, O'Brien said his team needs to be more consistent going forward.
"We're not consistent," O'Brien said. "I feel like we have a ton of consistent people on the coaching staff and on the team, but we don't play consistently. We have more wins than losses this year, but I think that's a fair criticism of this team. ... That's a reflection of the head coach. We've got to get the team to play more consistently."
At 8-5, the Texans will have at least a share of the division lead with two games to play against the Titans, pending the outcome of Tennessee's Week 14 game.
"It's a little bit deflating," safety Justin Reid said. "The best thing we can do is flip the page and learn from it. We've got the Titans next week, basically for the division. That's the best thing that we can look forward to."