OAKLAND - At least for one Sunday, the Texans solved two of their most pressing issues.
In a 24-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders at McAfee Coliseum, the Texans totaled three takeaways, converting one into a touchdown, and finally established a running game that netted a season-high 178 total yards.
The Texans turned the ball over once compared to the Raiders' three interceptions, and running back Ron Dayne finished with a game-high 122 yards on 21 carries (5.8 avg.) with one touchdown to help carry the Texans into their bye week with a 4-5 record.
After turning the ball over multiple times each game over the past several weeks, coach Gary Kubiak was happy to see his team reverse that recent trend.
"We've done a little bit of everything (to protect the ball)," Kubiak said. "We beat it up really hard in practice. We added drills on a daily basis. We walked away from it for one week, said maybe we've got it in their heads so dang much that's the problem. That didn't fix it, so we went right back to hammering last week. But my message to the players is, 'They're the ones who'll fix that.' They know we're going to struggle if we turn it over, so it's on their shoulders to get it fixed."
Starting running back Ahman Green started strong with 28 yards on eight carries and a touchdown, but he left the game in the first half limping, leaving the majority of the carries to Dayne.
"That's Ronnie. Just when you think maybe not, Ronnie steps up and says, 'Get on my back. I can still do this,'" Kubiak said. "He's done it twice here at this place. He did it last year; he did it today. You know, he's a warrior. He knew we needed him, and he just stepped up big."
In place of starting quarterback Matt Schaub , who sat out to recover from a concussion, Sage Rosenfels delivered an efficient performance, completing 11-of-19 passes for 181 yards with one touchdown and one interception against one of the NFL's best pass defenses.
"He prepared extremely hard," Kubiak said of Rosenfels. "He went against a group that rushes the passer extremely well. I don't think he had any sacks. I know he had one turnover, but it was important that he come in here and beat the team. That's what was important, and I thought he did a good job."
The Texans' defense gave up 157 net passing yards and 153 net rushing yards, but allowed Oakland to convert only four of their 11 third down opportunities (36 percent). Defensive coordinator Richard Smith's unit also forced interceptions on three of Oakland's 10 drives. The three picks were the second-most in Texans' history.
Not all was positive, though, as the Texans committed a game-high nine penalties, costing the team 56 yards. Also, starting cornerback Dunta Robinson had to be carted off the field in the first half with an ugly knee injury that caused him to miss the rest of the game and may require surgery.
"Dunta doesn't look good, he doesn't look good at all," Kubiak said. "I can't sit here and tell you anything, but it doesn't look good."
Robinson says it's a season-ending injury.
"Yeah, I think it's an injury that requires surgery," he said afterward while holding crutches. "I tried to put some pressure on it, and my leg it almost folded. So I know I definitely won't be back."
Rosenfels sparked the Texans on the team's opening possession with a short screen pass on third-and-18 from the Houston 33 that Green turned into a career-long 53-yard reception to the Oakland 14.
On fourth-and-two at the five-yard line, Rosenfels dove forward to pick up a first down. Following a five-yard false start penalty on guard Fred Weary , Green scored on a draw through the middle of the Oakland defense. Kris Brown 's extra point gave the Texans a 7-0 lead with 6:46 left in the first quarter.
Wide receiver Ronald Curry's 10-yard catch to the Oakland 48 kept the chains moving on Oakland's next possession. On the play, Curry was upended by cornerback Fred Bennett , who lay motionless on the field after the hit. Once team medical staff attended to him, Bennett walked off the field under his own power.
"I saw 89 with the ball and I just said to myself, 'I am going to give him everything he can handle,'" Bennett said. "I just gave him everything I had and I was on the ground a little woozy, but it was good to get a little peek over there and see that he was down also."
After Robinson suffered his injury later in the drive, defensive tackle Travis Johnson deflected quarterback Josh McCown's pass, which former Raiders linebacker Danny Clark dove to intercept at the Houston 36 for the game's first takeaway.
A 28-yard pass from Rosenfels to tight end Owen Daniels moved the offense to the Oakland 36. But the Texans turned it over on the following play when Rosenfels passed into double coverage trying to fit a ball into wide receiver Kevin Walter . Safety Stuart Schweigert picked off the pass and was tackled by Walter at the Raiders' four-yard line for no gain.
After an Oakland punt, Green's 10 rushing yards on two carries gave the Texans a first down at their 40-yard line with 8:06 left in the first half. On third-and-seven at the Oakland 45, though, Rosenfels' pass intended for Walter sailed high out of bounds.
Less than 10 seconds later, the Texans' offense returned to the field when Bennett stepped in front of McCown's pass for Curry at the Oakland 30. The rookie returned his first-career interception 14 yards.
"It was zone coverage, the quarterback eyed the receiver the entire way, and I just came across to make a great play," Bennett said. "My confidence level is high and the coaches have a lot of faith in me. I just knew I couldn't go out there and let them down."
Two plays later, Dayne cut through the Raiders' defense to score on a 14-yard touchdown that gave the Texans a 14-0 lead after Brown's extra point.
With the crowd chanting for quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the first overall draft pick from Louisiana State, the Raiders' offense returned with McCown still behind center. On third-and-four at the Houston 41, left tackle Barry Sims was called for a false start, which was the Raiders' fourth penalty in the first half. Then, safety Von Hutchins picked off McCown's pass when he dove in front of the ball intended for wide receiver Tim Dwight at the Texans' 39-yard line.
After the booth reviewed the call on the field, the play was overturned after officials determined that the ball hit the ground. The result was a fourth-and-nine at the Houston 39. After failing to draw the Texans' defense offside, Oakland called a timeout and Sebastian Janikowski lined up for a 64-yard field goal that would have been the longest field goal in NFL history. Although the kick had plenty of distance, the ball hit the right post and ricocheted into the end zone.
Two completions to Walter for 21 yards to the Oakland 20 set up Brown's 40-yard field goal with less than 10 seconds left before halftime that gave the Texans a 17-0 lead heading into the locker room.
Less than two minutes into the third quarter, Dayne scampered 39 yards to the Oakland 31 on third-and-one from the Houston 30. Three plays later, Brown's 43-yard field goal attempt was blocked by defensive end Jay Richardson, giving the Raiders' offense the ball at their 33-yard line.
A 29-yard pass from McCown to fullback Justin Griffith deep into Houston territory set up the Raiders' first score. After a controversial eight-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on safety Will Demps , who was penalized for making contact with Curry after an incomplete pass, the Raiders picked up two yards on the next three plays. Janikowski's 22-yard field goal cut Houston's lead to 17-3 with 7:40 remaining in the third quarter.
After the Texans punted on their second drive of the second half, wide receiver Jerry Porter moved Oakland into Houston territory with a 32-yard catch and run. Texans' penalties for defensive holding and grabbing the face mask gave Oakland a first down at the Houston 12 early in the fourth quarter.
On third-and-10, the Texans appeared to force a punt when tight end Zach Miller was stopped short of the first down, but defensive tackle Amobi Okoye was flagged for roughing the passer. A play later, running back Justin Fargas dove into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown to cut Oakland's deficit to 17-10 with 11:22 left in the game.
The decisive play of the game came the next series on third-and-two from the Oakland 42, when Rosenfels aired a pass down the Texans' sideline that wide receiver André Davis caught for a 42-yard touchdown. Davis was in single coverage with former University of Houston cornerback Stanford Routt, who tripped as Davis made the reception and rolled into the end zone.
"It was huge," Rosenfels said of the score. "We ran a couple of plays, and their defense was rolling into a coverage where it sure left 'X' all by himself. The corner and the technique, we thought we could take advantage of. And we called a big play with André, and sure enough they played that same coverage they had played a few drives earlier. And we said, 'Throw it to André.' And I thought I overthrew him, but he made a great play."
The Raiders appeared to turn the ball over again when running back LaMont Jordan caught a pass and the ball deflected into the arms of linebacker DeMeco Ryans. But the officials ruled it was an incomplete pass.
Nevertheless, Ryans got his interception two plays later when he picked off McCown's pass intended for Curry at the Texans' five-yard line for the team's third takeaway of the game with 4:37 remaining in the contest.
With the game seemingly wrapped up, Turk mishit his punt from the Texans' 21-yard line, and the Raiders' offense started from the Houston 31 with no timeouts and 1:37 left on the game clock. On the second play of the drive, McCown hit Dwight for a 28-yard touchdown with 1:30 remaining in the game to cut the score to 24-17.
On the ensuing onside kick, Walter soared high to recover the ball at the Oakland 42. The Texans' offense ran out the remainder of the clock to seal the team's fourth win and set the stage for a Week 11 showdown with the New Orleans Saints.
- Cornerback Fred Bennett left the game with dizziness in the first quarter after colliding with wide receiver Ronald Curry. He returned to the game.
- Cornerback Dunta Robinson was carted off the field in the first quarter with an injury to his right knee. He did not return to the game.
- Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return.