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Matt Schaub: From jeers to cheers


Quarterback Matt Schaub is playing his best football of the season.

The Cincinnati defense wasn't really invisible. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub just made it seem like the Bengals disappeared.

"That's hard to do that against air,'' coach Gary Kubiak said of Schaub completing 24-of-28 passes.

Schaub was booed after the first two games of the season for his slow start, but he was flawless in Sunday's 35-6 victory. He threw for 280 yards and three touchdown passes. He had a personal best 144.0 quarterback rating and completed a personal and team best 85.7 percent of his passes.

A week ago, after a victory over Detroit, wide receiver Andre Johnson said he and Schaub still weren't on the same page as early last season before both players spent time on the injury list.

How about now?

"It just seems like everything is working,'' Johnson said. "We are playing smarter as a team. It seems everything is working out for us. We have a lot of guys who can make plays for us."

Schaub is getting very comfortable, too.

"I think we're there," Schaub said. "We might even have been there last week. Andre and I demand perfection. Every time we try to complete a pass, we expect it to be completed. He's a tremendous receiver and player. We expect a lot out of ourselves. I think we're getting there.

"You always search for that perfect game and we were close today, but we still have things we can clean up and work on."

Johnson has benefitted from Schaub's growing efficiency. Johnson caught 11 passes for 143 yards, his fourth straight 100-yard receiving performance of the year and his fifth of the season.

He's happy the ugly days of the team's 0-4 start and fan dissatisfaction with Schaub appear in the past.

"When Matt struggles and Sage (Rosenfels) comes out and plays, a lot of people were saying Sage should be the starter,'' Johnson said. "He was booed one week and now you don't hear any more boos. He's stepped his game up and he's going to continue to play well.

"We're all going to continue playing well. We still have little mistakes here and there, but I think we're playing the best football we've played around here in a long time."

Kubiak thinks a new practice routine helped Schaub to improve his gameday performances.

"As a coach in practice, you love everything to go smooth, so you script plays," Kubiak said. "We felt maybe it was going too smooth, so we tried to put him in tougher situations and I think it's made him react better when he doesn't have a play."

{QUOTE}Schaub didn't have many tight situations on Sunday against the winless Bengals.

"I feel good about my performance today," Schaub said. "But for me to do that, there are 10 other guys in the huddle that have to be doing that, too. As an offense, we functioned really well across the board. Guys were getting open. The O-line dominated the line of scrimmage and kept the pocket real clean. It allowed me to step up and make the throws.

"It was a complete effort."

Johnson thinks the Texans have arrived, too.

"It's the best football we've played since I've been here," Johnson said. "It's fun. We know what we can be. I think that's why it was so frustrating at the beginning of the season. We know that we can go out and play real good football, but we weren't doing it. We're starting to do it now and I'm hoping it's something we can continue to do. "

So many big plays were happening, Schaub didn't see them all. He completed a short pass to Kevin Walter in the third quarter and thought his receiver fell down and was touched by a defender.

"That was crazy. I threw the ball and completed it," Schaub said. "I looked to the sideline to listen for the next play. I took my focus off downfield. I thought he fell and they touched him. Then I hear them going crazy and I see him in the end zone. I'm looking forward to seeing that on film to see how that took place."

Walter did fall but alertly jumped up and scored on a 39-yard touchdown pass-run play. That's just the way it's been going for the Texans, who won an unprecedented third consecutive game.

Schaub has been on a roll since his early season troubles. In his last four games, he completed 101-of-141 passes for 1,233 yards and nine touchdowns. He's thrown two interceptions in that span and suffered five sacks. The boos are long forgotten.

"You just keep playing and moving forward," Schaub said. "You are going to deal with adversity in this game and have rough games, but you've got to keep working and depend on your guys to play."

Being booed could have spurred Schaub to perform better. He's not ready to say.

"It's hard for me to say now," Schaub said. "Maybe if you ask me down the road, in a few years. Right now, we're just excited about the last three weeks coming away with wins. We're on a roll and we've got to keep it going."

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 sports.

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