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Texans beat Jags 30-17


Wide receiver Andre Johnson scored on the game's opening possession.

Rookie running back Steve Slaton dazzled the nation on Monday Night Football with the best performance of his young career in the Texans' 30-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Reliant Stadium.

The third-round draft pick from West Virginia saved his best for last and turned a moderately close game into a blowout with two touchdowns and 83 rushing yards in the fourth quarter.

"To watch him get stronger at the end of the game is impressive," said coach Gary Kubiak, who compared Slaton's demeanor to current Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis.

The 5-9, 201-pound featured back, who once was considered a situational runner because of his small stature, finished with a game-high 130 rushing yards along with two catches for 52 yards.

Slaton never would have had as many opportunities without the stellar outing by the Texans' defense. A week after allowing only six points in a road win at Cleveland, the Texans proved that they're no fluke by forcing three turnovers and limiting the Jaguars to three points through the first three quarters.

While Jacksonville scored two late touchdowns by taking advantage of the Texans' prevent defense, the Jaguars struggled to execute all game.

Defensive end Mario Williams sacked quarterback David Garrard three times and forced a fumble in the red zone that led to a touchdown, while cornerback Jacques Reeves added an interception and defensive tackle DelJuan Robinson forced the first fumble of the game.

It's no coincidence that the Texans' best two defensive performances have come the past two weeks since cornerback Dunta Robinson re-emerged in the starting lineup.

"There was a big deal made last week if we were blitzing more, and those types of things," Kubiak said. "I don't know that we're blitzing much more than we have in the past, maybe a little bit, but we're just more aggressive right now. I think the defense is comfortable with Dunta returning to his old spot."

The Texans' offense started off with their bread-and-butter: Wide receiver Andre Johnson had 43 receiving yards on two catches on the game's opening drive. He finished the six-play series by muscling his way past cornerback Rashean Mathis for a 31-yard touchdown from quarterback Sage Rosenfels.

{QUOTE}With 9:56 left in the first quarter, the Texans' offense started its second series from their 46-yard line after Jacksonville was flagged twice for false start penalties on their opening possession. After an incomplete pass on first down, Rosenfels took a quick drop with an empty backfield and was intercepted by Mathis, who returned the pick four yards to the Houston 44.

Houston struck back on the Jaguars' first play when cornerback Jacques Reeves intercepted quarterback David Garrard's pass intended for wide receiver Jerry Porter. After a 13-yard return, the Texans' offense took over from the Jacksonville 48. Following tight end Owen Daniels' 14 -yard reception, Kris Brown extended the lead to 10-0 with a 38-yard field goal.

Houston collected its second takeaway on the ensuing series after DelJuan Robinson popped the ball loose from running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Safety Nick Ferguson recovered the fumble at the Jaguars' 28-yard line.

After an incompletion on first down, wide receiver Jacoby Jones took a direct snap and faked a handoff before being stopped in the backfield. An offensive pass interference penalty on wide receiver David Anderson on the following snap led to the first punt of the game, which André Davis downed at the one-yard line. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio challenged the ruling, but officials confirmed the spot of the ball.

The Jaguars dug themselves out of the hole thanks to a 10-yard run by running back Fred Taylor and a 24-yard catch by wide receiver Matt Jones to near midfield. Jones-Drew's 14-yard rush gave Jacksonville a first down at the Houston 32. A third down pass attempt glanced off Porter's fingertips to set up Josh Scobee's 43-yard field goal attempt, which missed wide right with 9:56 remaining in the first half.

Two catches by Johnson for 17 yards moved the Texans to the 50-yard line, where Slaton picked up seven yards and a first down. On third-and-15 from the 48-yard line, Rosenfels overthrew Davis, leading to Matt Turk's second punt.

Following Williams' sack on Garrard for an eight-yard loss on third down, the Jaguars punted 37 yards to the Houston 24 with 3:02 left before halftime.

Wide receiver Kevin Walter pulled in a pass from Rosenfels and then shook off a defender for a 30-yard gain on the second play of the series. Rosenfels then scrambled for three yards before cornerback Brian Williams hit him out of bounds, which resulted in a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty to the Jacksonville 25. On third-and-goal from the nine-yard line, Johnson caught a six-yard pass, setting up Brown's 21-yard field goal attempt. After a low snap, Turk rolled to his right and lobbed a pass into the end zone that was tipped out of bounds.

Once Jacksonville's opening drive of the second half stalled, Jones returned the ensuing punt 28 yards to the Jaguars' 38-yard line. Walter's eight-yard catch to the 32-yard line on third down set up Brown's 50-yard field goal to give the Texans a 13-0 lead with 10:12 remaining in the third quarter.

The Jaguars responded with a 12-play, 69-yard scoring drive. Garrard completed five passes for 47 yards, and Taylor rushed 24 yards to the Houston 13, leading to Scobee's 29-yard field goal with 3:29 remaining in the third quarter. Williams added another sack on the series.

Linebacker Chaun Thompson recovered Scobee's onside kick at the Jacksonville 42 to put the offense in scoring position. Two plays later, after a false start penalty, Slaton caught a short screen pass and avoided a defender for a 46-yard gain to the one-yard line. After Jacksonville stuffed three rushes by Slaton, Brown booted a 20-yard field goal to extend Houston's lead to 16-3 near the end of the third quarter.

The Jaguars rebounded with a 20-yard reception by tight end Marcedes Lewis and a 27-yard grab by Jones on fourth-and-two to the Texans' six-yard line. Following a timeout, Garrard rushed on a designed play, but was tackled by linebacker DeMeco Ryans for a one-yard loss. On fourth-and-goal at the five-yard line, Garrard stumbled and fell on his drop back. After standing up, he threw an errant pass to the end zone that Reeves batted down.

After running 6:52 from the game clock, the Texans punted 37 yards to the Jaguars' nine-yard line with 5:29 remaining in the game. On the second play of the series, Williams sacked Garrard during a pass attempt to knock the ball loose. Defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina recovered the fumble at the seven-yard line for the third takeaway. After a Jacksonville challenge, the ruling on the field stood, and Slaton rushed for a seven-yard touchdown the next play to help extend Houston's lead to 23-3 with 4:35 left in the game.

Jacksonville scored their first touchdown on Taylor's four-yard touchdown run, which capped an eight-play, 73-yard scoring drive over 2:26. But Daniels recovered the Jaguars' second onside kick attempt at the Jacksonville 40. From there, Slaton immediately scored off the right tackle on a 40-yard rush to help stretch the lead to 30-10 with 2:04 on the game clock.

Playing prevent defense to avoid a quick score, the Texans allowed another touchdown with 39 seconds left in the contest, when Garrard passed to Williams for an 18-yard touchdown to make the score 30-17.

Injury report

  • Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis left the game at halftime with a sprained right knee. He did not return.
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