Foster, Jones show up in finale

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Jacoby Jones proved to be a playmaker in the Texans' win over the Patriots on Sunday.

Jacoby Jones and Arian Foster: Where have these guys been all season?

Jones came out of coach Gary Kubiak's doghouse just weeks ago. Foster was an undrafted free agent who spent much of the season on the Texans' practice roster.

That's all history now. They stepped up when it counted most to help the Texans rally for a 34-27 victory over New England to complete their first winning season, 9-7. In fact, the past few weeks each player has contributed to the team's four-game win streak.

On Sunday, with the Texans down 27-13 in the fourth quarter, Jones caught an eight-yard touchdown pass and Foster scored on runs of one and three yards, the last with one minute, 55 seconds to play to complete the second biggest comeback in team history.

"I got a little choked up walking off the field," Foster said. "Everyone who knows my story knows what I've been through. It's been a long road and the hard work was very rewarding."

Foster had 119 yards on 20 carries to become only the second Texan to get 100 rushing yards this season.

"I shed a tear or two because it's been a long road for me," Foster said. "By no means do I think I've arrived, but it's been a long road and to have a taste of success at this level is great."

{QUOTE}Foster spent most of the season on the practice squad. He was activated Nov. 17 and had 34 yards on 13 carries against Seattle. He went to the sidelines after an early fumble against St. Louis but he was back last week with 97 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown against Miami.

He really broke out against the Patriots, providing a strong running game that helped take pressure off the Texans' receivers.

"We have all-stars at the wide receivers position and a great quarterback, but we've also got some linemen that can move people and running backs that can move the pile," Foster said. "We proved that today. We take pride in our running game. It slipped early in the season but it was a goal to bring it back and we did that."

Foster also caught four passes for 26 yards and improved his chances for a bigger role next season.

"That's how I walk around with life, really, the underdog and that's how I play," he said.

Foster knew if the Texans could stop making mistakes, they had a chance.

"You look at the reasons we were down were mistakes," Foster said. "They didn't do anything special. All credit is due to their team. They played a heck of a game but we were hurting ourselves. That's been pretty much the case all year, except for a few games."

The Texans have been grooming Jones for greatness since he arrived three seasons ago from tiny Lane College. He's suffered through periods of fumbling and immaturity. He's made great strides in the maturity department this season, although he was suspended one game for missing a meeting.

And then came the third quarter on Sunday when a pass from Matt Schaub went sailing through Jones' hands into the waiting arms of rookie Darius Butler, who returned the interception 91 yards for a touchdown and a 20-13 Patriots lead.

"I took my eyes off and lost concentration and missed it," Jones said. "I got to the sidelines and my teammates had my back so I stepped up. It was a clutch situation where I had to step up and forget about the pass I dropped. The next time I had a shot I was going to make the play."

Schaub made certain Jones got another chance.

"I told him with the way the game was going and the way that coverages were working to Andre (Johnson) and everything, we were going to need some guys to make some plays and that I was going to come right back to him," Schaub said.

"Because he is a dynamic receiver and a guy that can make plays for us. I told him, 'I'm going to come right back to you and just make the plays,' and he did that. And I told him near the end of the game, before we had the kneel down, I told him that he did a heck of a job coming back mentally and getting past it."

Jones has been a dangerous punt return specialist this season and has been squeezing his way into the receiver's rotation. He finished Sunday with 65 yards on five catches.

"It was the most emotion I've ever played in a game in my life," Jones said. "I've never played in a game that had that much meaning before, you bring the dog out, you keep fighting.

"We were in a dog fight. Somebody had to make that play. They were doubling No. 80 (Andre Johnson). It's about maturity and growing up. The guys stayed on me and they told me I had to grow up."

Jones was pleased to be a part of the Texans' winning streak to end the regular season.

"This means a lot to the fans, the organization and to ourselves," he said. "It feels great to go 9-7 instead of 8-8 again. I threw up about eight times on the sidelines. That was a wild game for me."

As for the closing seconds, Jones said "I didn't even watch."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky., Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro teams.

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