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Texans beat 49ers 24-21, climb above .500


Steve Slaton put on a show for the 70,820 fans in attendance.

The Texans showed the resolve of a veteran team Sunday by shutting down the San Francisco 49ers' comeback attempt in a 24-21 win at Reliant Stadium.

After a nearly flawless first half, the Texans saw their 21-0 halftime lead whittled to three points in the fourth quarter. But on the 49ers' potential game-winning drive, safety Eugene Wilson picked off quarterback Alex Smith with 36 seconds on the game clock to preserve Houston's fourth win of the season.

"It's a big win," coach Gary Kubiak said afterward. "I'm proud of our guys, the way they played. They played very hard.

"Two weeks in a row, we beat two very good football teams. We knew this team was a darn good team coming off a bye week."

The Texans' defense limited the 49ers to only 50 total net yards of offense in the first half, but San Francisco responded behind Smith, who replaced starter Shaun Hill in the third quarter. Smith finished with 206 passing yards and three touchdowns to tight end Vernon Davis.

"He went in there and made some great throws to the tight end down in the middle of the field," Kubiak said of Smith. "The young man made some big plays, and that's why he was the top pick."

{QUOTE}Offensively, the Texans struggled to establish a consistent ground game, but quarterback Matt Schaub continued his excellent play by completing 20-of-30 passes for 264 yards with two touchdowns. Pro Bowler Andre Johnson saw blanket coverage all game, which opened up opportunities for Pro Bowl tight end Owen Daniels, who caught seven passes for a game-high 123 yards and one touchdown.

Running back Steve Slaton chipped in with four catches for 22 yards and a touchdown, while gaining 67 yards on 18 carries with a score. His fumble issues persist, though, as he lost his fourth fumble of the season with 3:38 left in the third quarter. In the latter part of the second quarter he lost another fumble, which was overturned after officials ruled his knee was on the ground.

"It's very concerning," Kubiak said of Slaton's fumbles. "I mean people smell blood because he's put some balls on the ground."

The 49ers punted on their first four possessions of the game, which gave the Texans plenty of scoring opportunities.

With 6:38 left in the first quarter, the Texans began their third drive from their 39-yard line. Daniels snagged a 31-yard pass in the middle of the field before wide receiver Kevin Walter's nine-yard catch to the San Francisco 21. On third-and-five from the 25-yard line, Daniels' 12-yard catch moved the chains and set up Slaton's one-yard touchdown run.

The Texans appeared to add to their lead when Jacoby Jones returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown near the end of the first quarter, but an illegal block on rookie Glover Quin negated the score and moved the Texans back to their 22-yard line.

Johnson caught his first pass of the game on an 18-yard strike from Schaub on third-and-12 from the Houston 26. Four plays later, the Texans punted, but wide receiver Arnaz Battle muffed the catch at the 10-yard line, where André Davis recovered the fumble. Two plays later, Slaton caught a screen pass and avoided two defenders to score a nine-yard touchdown.

The offense returned to the field with 6:46 left before halftime. Schaub's 42-yard pass to Daniels on a perfectly executed play action fake extended the Texans' lead to 21-0.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, completed his first pass to rookie Michael Crabtree for 17 yards to the Houston 48. Later, Smith put San Francisco on the scoreboard with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Davis.

Houston started its second drive of the third quarter from their 47-yard line. The drive lasted four plays before Slaton fumbled at the San Francisco 34. Safety Dashon Goldson recovered the ball for the Texans' first turnover of the game.

The 49ers moved 66 yards on 10 plays to cut their deficit to seven points. On third-and-seven from the Houston 31, wide receiver Josh Morgan caught a 17-yard pass across the middle. On the next play, Davis made a 14-yard touchdown reception to make the score 21-14 after Joe Nedney's extra point.

With the momentum swaying in the 49ers' favor, Johnson caught a 44-yard pass from Schaub on the first play of the ensuing drive to give the Texans a first down at the San Francisco 41. Later, Daniels caught a pair of passes for 23 total yards to the 11-yard line. After a short gain by Slaton on third-and-19, tackle Duane Brown was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct following the play, pushing the offense back 15 yards. Kris Brown nailed the 50-yard field goal, though, making the score 24-14 with 7:16 left in the game.

"I'm just glad he made it," Kubiak said of the kick. "Kris kicked the ball well all day. He kicked it in the end zone on the kickoffs and obviously those are huge points."

In response, Smith led the 49ers 73 yards on seven plays over 3:33 and completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Davis with 3:43 left in the game.

Schaub led Houston from its 17-yard line. He completed a 14-yard pass to Davis before Slaton picked up 31 yards on a rush to the 49ers' 38-yard line. On third-and-eight from the 36-yard line, Schaub's pass to Slaton was knocked down by safety Mark Roman to force a punt with 1:50 left on the game clock.

Starting from their eight-yard line with no timeouts, San Francisco moved 10 yards on first down after a catch by Morgan. On fourth-and-10 from the 43-yard line, Smith's pass intended for Bruce was intercepted by Wilson, who returned it 16 yards to effectively end the game.

NOTES: Houston announced the following inactive players: quarterback Dan Orlovsky (third QB), wide receiver Glenn Martinez, safety Nick Ferguson, cornerback Fred Bennett, linebacker Jamie Winborn, guard Tutan Reyes, tight end Anthony Hill and defensive tackle Frank Okam.

Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson injured his chest in the fourth quarter but returned to the game. After the game, coach Gary Kubiak said that Johnson was taken to the hospital to be examined for a chest contusion.

"We're concerned," Kubiak said. "He's got what they're telling me is a chest contusion right now. We have him down at the hospital. We'll get him looked at. But obviously he could not go out there in the end. So there's concern until we see."

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