The Houston Texans are mired in their roughest stretch in almost two seasons, greatly because of some poor play from quarterback Matt Schaub.
Though coach Gary Kubiak called it a ``tough decision,' he plans to stick with Schaub as the Texans try to avoid a fourth straight loss Sunday against the visiting St. Louis Rams.
After scoring 61 points to beat San Diego and Tennessee, Houston (2-3) has been outscored 87-32 during its first three-game slide since the final three weeks of the 2011 season. The two-time defending AFC South champions would match the longest losing streak of Kubiak's eight-year tenure with another loss Sunday.
"I think it's a huge game," said Kubiak, whose team has lost four straight home games versus NFC opponents. "It would be big either way, but, yeah, it's big because of what we've gone through these past three weeks.
"I see a group of guys that are very close, very committed to each other, very hurt ... the only way you fix things is you go back and play and do things better. I can't wait for that opportunity to get here."
Whether Schaub is as eager remains to be seen.
The 10-year veteran has thrown for eight touchdowns and two 300-yard games, but he ranks 26th in the NFL with a 76.9 passer rating mainly because he's totaled nine interceptions after having 12 all of last season. Three plays into last Sunday's 34-3 loss at San Francisco, Tramaine Brock returned Schaub's interception 18 yards for a TD, marking an NFL-record fourth consecutive game a quarterback has had a pick taken back for a score.
He was intercepted three times on the night and replaced late by T.J. Yates, who led Houston to its first playoff win when Schaub was hurt two seasons ago.
"I'm better than I'm playing and our team's better than we're playing right now," said Schaub, who has thrown two TDs and six INTs over the last three weeks.
Though Kubiak said the team "can't survive" if Schaub continues to make those kinds of mistakes, he's not ready to make a switch even though some Texans fans are burning Schaub jerseys and a sign over one Houston area freeway is calling for his ouster.
"You watch the struggle and you just want to be a part of the solution," Kubiak said. "You want to be a part of helping him work his way through that.
"The only way I know how to do it is you play our way through that stuff."
Kubiak admits there's concern about Schaub's confidence.
"That's only natural," he said. "For some of those things to happen to you over a period of time, yeah you worry about that. But the reason he's played a long time is because he's very tough mentally, physically."
Facing a Rams defense that has only three interceptions and could be without lock-down cornerback Cortland Finnegan (thigh) for a second straight week might help Schaub get back on track. He went 28 of 40 for 367 yards with a TD and no picks in the Texans' 16-13 win at St. Louis in 2009 in the teams' last meeting.
Schaub's struggles have not slowed down Arian Foster, who has totaled 289 yards over the past two weeks with 200 coming on 48 rushing attempts. The three-time Pro Bowler was limited to 227 total yards through the first three games.
St. Louis' defense has given up a league-worst 169.3 rushing yards per game over the past three weeks.
The Rams (2-3) hope to avoid a fourth straight road defeat by building on last Sunday's 34-20 win over lowly Jacksonville that snapped a three-game skid. After totaling 18 points the previous two weeks against Dallas and San Francisco, St. Louis led 24-10 at halftime against the winless Jaguars. Matt Giordano snapped the Rams' 11-game, first-quarter touchdown drought when he returned an interception 82 yards.
"We looked at (last Sunday) as if it was the home opener and we just had a poor preseason," coach Jeff Fisher said. "So, we've got 11 games left on the schedule."
Fisher could again lean on rookie Zac Stacy, who gained 78 of the Rams' season-high 143 rushing yards to revive a ground game that totaled 189 through the first four contests.
The Texans are the NFL's best against the pass, allowing 134.2 yards per game, but like the Rams yield an average of 126.0 on the ground - tied for 27th in the NFL.
St. Louis' Sam Bradford has been sacked 13 times and completed only 54.5 percent of his passes over the past three games, but he has five touchdowns and one interception in that span.
The Rams hope Finnegan can return to match up with Houston's Andre Johnson, who has 21 receptions for 355 yards and a TD in two games against the Rams. Johnson's 37 receptions lead the AFC, though he has yet to catch a touchdown pass.
Tight end Owen Daniels, second on the Texans with 24 catches and tied for the team lead with three TDs, has a broken leg and is out indefinitely.
The Associated Press News Service
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