O’Brien defends late penalty from Clowney in loss to Colts

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien on Monday defended Jadeveon Clowney and his late offside penalty that factored into Houston’s 24-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, which ended a nine-game winning streak.

“He’s an aggressive player and you never want to take away that aggressiveness,” O’Brien said. “In that situation, he made a mistake, and I’m sure he’d be the first to tell you that. Andrew (Luck) did a good job on that play, and (Colts coach) Frank (Reich) did a good job of getting their guys coached up on it.”

With two minutes remaining on Sunday and the Texans down 24-21 and needing a critical stop at midfield on third-and-1, Luck tried several times to draw the Texans offside before Clowney finally took the bait.

The 5-yard penalty gave the Colts a first down and, ultimately, the win. The Colts (7-6) snapped a franchise-record winning streak by Houston (9-4), trimming the Texans’ lead in the AFC South to two games with three remaining.

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Clowney later refused to comment when approached by reporters after the game.

O’Brien said Monday that on the play, there was a sense among the Texans defensive players that the Colts would try to run the ball in the short-yardage situation and that Clowney was not at fault for the loss.

“He’s a very aggressive player who has made a lot of plays for us,” O’Brien said. “We didn’t lose the game because of that. We lost the game because we had four or five three-and-outs, gave up 199 yards to one receiver and we didn’t play our best game on special teams. That’s really more what it came down to.”

Clowney had two tackles in the game and has 7 sacks on the season, second on the team to J.J. Watt’s 12½ sacks.

“No one wants to lose,” O’Brien said. “It’s a bottom-line business when you lose a game like that. We’ve lost four games this year by a touchdown or less and that’s the NFL — these games are very, very tight. There are six to eight plays in a game that are critical and if you don’t execute those plays, you’re probably going to lose the game.”

The receiver O’Brien was referring to was T.Y. Hilton who entered the game as the NFL’s leader in receiving yards per game at NRG Stadium with 122.3 and only padded his lead with a 199-yard performance on nine catches. Luck threw for 399 yards and two touchdowns.

O’Brien said there are things the defense can shore up before the Texans visit the Jets on Saturday to avoid giving up more big plays in the passing game.

“I think the big thing is, when you look at the tape, on those particular plays, we have not combined coverage and rush,” O’Brien said.

“Whether it was the rush not getting home or the coverage playing too loose. We just have to continue to work at that and clean those things up, relative to who we’re playing. I don’t really get worried about anything and just make sure our guys understand where we need to improve.”

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