GARY KUBIAK pulled the Texans out of the NFL basement and remains the only coach to take them to the playoffs.
That wasn't enough to save his job, not with the Texans mired in an 11-game skid that has dropped them back to the bottom of the league.
Houston fired Kubiak yesterday, a day after the Texans lost, 27-20, at Jacksonville and continued their stunning fall for a team that expected to make a Super Bowl run. Houston (2-11) was penalized 14 times for a franchise-record 177 yards.
Kubiak, 52, was hired in 2006 and led the team to back-to-back AFC South titles in 2011 and 2012, the highlights of his 8-year tenure as coach of his hometown NFL team.
The Texans said they couldn't wait any longer to start turning things around, not with the losses and undisciplined play piling up.
"What's taken place with this organization is unacceptable," general manager Rick Smith said. "We've got 3 weeks of an evaluation process left and we've got to right the ship."
Kubiak's overall record is 61-64, with a 2-2 mark in the playoffs.
The Texans said defensive coordinator Wade Phillips would serve as interim coach for the rest of the season.
Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke Nov. 3 in a frightening scene, collapsing at halftime during a game against the Colts and being rushed to a Houston hospital. He suffered a transient ischemic attack, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is briefly interrupted, typically by a blood clot or narrowed blood vessels. Experts say they are often a warning sign for a future stroke, particularly within 3 months of a TIA.
Kubiak returned to coach, but the Texans have been unable to rebound from injuries to top players including quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and linebacker Brian Cushing, who was lost for the second straight season.
The Texans also fired special-teams coordinator Joe Marciano and replaced him with assistant Bob Ligashesky, who is in his 10th NFL season and first full year with Houston.
* The Minnesota Vikings ruled Christian Ponder out for tomorrow's game at Baltimore, because the quarterback has not yet passed all of his post-concussion tests. Ponder took a hit to the head late in the second quarter last week against Chicago.
Running back Adrian Peterson returned to practice yesterday after taking the last 2 days off to rest his sore groin.
* Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew was scheduled to have an MRI exam on his right hamstring, which was injured late in Thursday night's 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans. The injury didn't appear to be serious, though, and Jones-Drew said after the game that he expects to play against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 15.
* Green Bay Packers coach Aaron Rodgers was ruled out for tomorrows game against Atlanta because "is not ready to go," coach Mike McCarthy said.
There was a glimmer of hope that Rodgers would return this week, but tests Tuesday showed his broken collarbone was not healed enough for team doctors to clear him to play. Rodgers was cleared only to practice in pads, which he did Thursday for the first time since his injury, but Matt Flynn took the starter's reps all week and will get play against the Falcons.