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Rosenfels proves clutch in win


Rosenfels tied a club record with three touchdown passes.

Sage Rosenfels is the consummate backup quarterback, a guy who can step in and perform like a starter.

As he did Sunday, hitting 27-of-36 for 209 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in replacing starter Matt Schaub. It was Rosenfels' third three-touchdown game with the Texans, tying a club record jointly held by David Carr.

Now if the guys could just hear him in the huddle.

"He and Matt are a lot alike," tight end Owen Daniels said of Rosenfels. "But with Sage, sometimes he's really quiet in the huddle. He says he does it so the defense can't hear him. But sometimes I just have to say, 'Could you speak up a little?'"

Tackle Eric Winston agrees.

"Sage is Sage," Winston said. "He's a calm guy who always stays calm in the huddle. I don't think anybody thinks anything about it when Sage starts. We know we'll be the same in there with him.

"But he is quiet in the huddle. Sometimes I think he thinks the defense is going to hear the play call. I'm like, even if they do, they won't know what it is. I could holler out the play and they wouldn't know what it is.

"Sometimes I have to stand back there and say, 'Hey, I can't hear you back here.' But I like Sage. He's a fun guy to play with."

Rosenfels likes playing, too. He admits when the Texans traded for Schaub last summer, it was a difficult moment.

"I had basically been told I would get a chance to compete for the starting job," he said Sunday. "Then they got Matt and that changed everything. They said he would start and I knew he was a really good quarterback.

"It changed where I was at. And it was bittersweet for me because I knew Matt and we were friends. I knew the organization would win a lot of games with him. But I knew it would be different for me."

{QUOTE}But Rosenfels didn't complain. He accepted his role.

"Everyone has to make the most of their opportunities," he said. "As a backup, you know sooner or later you're going to get a chance and you just have to make the most of it.

"I personally feel I am good enough to start in this league. But that's not something I can control. It's up to the other general managers in the league and our GM. All I can control is what I do on the field."

Coach Gary Kubiak remembers that day last summer when the Texans got Schaub.

"When we made the trade for Matt, (Sage) was waiting at my door the next morning," Kubiak said. "I liked that. It was awesome.

"He just walked in and said, 'You know I can do this. You know I can be the starter.' I said, 'I know that. I believe you can, too, but you get your tail back to work and you prove it to everybody.'

"When you step on the field and you win games, nobody's going to take that away from you. He took a big step forward in his career today."

Counting the Oakland game, Rosenfels is now 2-0 as a starter this season – which doesn't mean that much to him.

"I just wish we had more wins as a team," he said. "Hopefully, I can be 3-0 in five days (when the Texans play the Broncos on Thursday)."

His teammates wouldn't be surprised. Even Schaub knows Rosenfels is no fluke.

"He does a great job every time he gets the chance," Schaub said. "He has been around this league before and he knows what he's doing. I wasn't surprised today at all. He didn't need any encouragement from me. He's a veteran guy who gets the job done."

André Davis feels the same.

"Sage did a great job of taking what he could get," Davis said. "He was not going to try and force the ball. He took the short-range passes and he did a great job."

Daniels caught three passes for 20 yards, including a four-yard touchdown that put the game away in the fourth quarter.

"Sage always comes through like that," Daniels said. "Sage is as well-prepared a quarterback as any you'll see. He always knows his reads and is always prepared. He prepares every game like he's going to start.

"My touchdown was a little short crossing route and he put it right in the right spot. If he had led me, (Ronde) Barber would have stepped right in and picked it off. But he threw it on my back shoulder where (Barber) couldn't get it."

The win against a likely playoff-bound team boosted the Texans' confidence.

"This was a huge win," Daniels said. "To beat a team like that, a great defensive team like this. To put up these points on them is really special."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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