Texans defense trying to tighten up against the run

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against Houston Texans outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett (57), Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Texans defensive tackle Brandon Dunn doesn’t have a great explanation for what happened to the defense during the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

What he does know is the winless Texans have to fix whatever went wrong. Fast.

“Football’s a game of inches, and in the fourth quarter we gave up too many of them,” Dunn said. “So it’s not necessarily one guy, it’s 11 guys, it takes a village. So, we’ve got to figure out what’s our mistakes and fix them so we can win a game.”

The Texans next opportunity comes Sunday when they take on the 2-0 Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday. And just like the first two games, the Steelers will put forth a formidable rushing attack led by the duo of Benny Snell and James Conner.

So far, the Texans have struggled with consistently stopping the run against the likes of Kansas City and Baltimore. The Texans rank 30th against the run, allowing 396 yards and two touchdowns while giving up an average of 5.6 yards per rush during the first two games.

Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram rests on the end zone after scoring on a touchdown run against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

It’s a trend that coach Bill O’Brien knows the Texans have to turn around to have a chance at finally getting into the win column this week.

“We’ve got to stop the run better. We’ve got to figure it out,” he said. “We’ve got to get the players to play better. We’ve got to look at our scheme and look at what we’re doing but this offense that we’re playing this week is completely different than that offense and the offense before that. It’s going to be a matter of what we think is the best thing to do versus Pittsburgh.

“We just have to – everybody’s got to do a better job. When you’re 0-2 you have to improve in every area.”

Against the Ravens last week, the Texans were in the game until they started letting Mark Ingram gash them for big yards in the second half. The Ravens finished with 230 yards on the ground, which included 186 yards in the pivotal final two quarters.

Texans first-year defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver doesn’t buy that his defensive front got tired, but said they stopped playing assignment football in the second half and that is when things started to fall apart.

“What happens is you have so many competitive guys and when they see the game kind of slipping away, everybody wants to be the guy to make that play,” Weaver said. “When you come out of structure on defense, big plays happen and that happened a little bit. But it’s better to learn the lesson now rather than in January and February.”

Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris