EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.-- Jets green and penalty flag yellow made for a very blue day for the Texans.
New York used a second half resurgence to beat Houston 29-7 at the Meadowlands Sunday afternoon. The Texans were doomed by untimely penalties and a sluggish second half offense.
"(The Jets) went in, they corrected everything they did wrong and they came out and executed the second half," Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "They ran the ball well. They played well on defense … They didn't get down by being down and just came out and played a totally different second half than they did in the first."
Houston went into the half with a 7-6 lead, but the advantage could have been larger.
Robinson picked off Jets quarterback Chad Pennington near the end of the second quarter – a leaping grab on a ball Pennington thought could be lifted over the corner's head. But Texans quarterback David Carr threw an interception two plays later ending the threat.
The Texans also missed out on two scoring opportunities earlier in the half.
Running back Domanick Davis had a 60-yard touchdown run called back after a holding penalty and wide receiver Andre Johnson dropped a fourth-down pass in the end zone to end the team's first possession.
The second half was a chance to start fresh but just over five minutes into the second half a bizarre series of penalties and repeated downs hurt the Texans chances.
Houston lined up to punt from their own end zone with 9:14 left in the third. The snap went wide to the right, hitting referee Tom White under the goalpost. Chad Stanley lined up to punt again. He got the ball off, but Houston was called for holding.
The next try boomed out toward the 50-yard line and was caught by Jets wide receiver Santana Moss, who returned it 46 yards to the Texans four-yard line. Officials threw a flag on New York for an illegal block, but wiped away the penalty.
The Jets scored two plays later to take a 13-7 lead.
Houston was penalized for intentional grounding and a personal foul on the next possession. Both could be considered questionable calls and left the Texans facing 3 rd and 33.
"Being out on the field it was frustrating because every time you made a play it was coming back," Johnson said. "You just have to be smart when you're out there playing. I don't really know what all the penalties out there were but you just have to be out there playing smart so you can avoid those situations."
The Texans (5-7) held the ball for 10:28 seconds in the second half and totaled just 91 yards in total offense after the holding penalty on Stanley's first punt attempt.
New York on the other hand rushed for 210 yards – 134 and a touchdown by Curtis Martin – and dominated time of possession.
Pennington, who was making his first start in nearly a month after injuring his throwing shoulder, completed 20 of 27 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown.
As they have been for most of the season, the 9-3 Jets were a model of efficiency. But it doesn't make the loss any easier to swallow.
"They watch film just like we watch film," Texans defensive end Robaire Smith said. "They know how to digest a defense, break it down and know where the soft spot is. They caught us out of position. It ain't anybody's fault. We just have to play better as a unit and stop it all together."
Texans head coach Dom Capers said his team was again stricken by a lack of consistency.
"We didn't have much momentum in the second half and that was the problem," he said. "You know when you're playing a team like the Jets you can't continue to give them opportunities and you have to make the most of your opportunities."