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Texans beat Raiders 29-6


Running back Steve Slaton has scored his first two touchdowns of the season.

It's always a good sign when the crowd is performing the wave in the third quarter.

The Texans won their first home game of the season Sunday by a 29-6 margin over the Oakland Raiders.

It was the most complete performance of the season by the Texans' defense, which limited the visitors to 165 net yards of offense, including only 45 on the ground, and two third down conversions on 15 attempts.

"I feel much better about our defense," coach Gary Kubiak said afterward. "I'm real proud of (defensive coordinator) Frank Bush rallying the troops and playing the way they did."

It was a gutsy performance by the defense, which had three new starters in safeties Dominique Barber and Bernard Pollard and cornerback Glover Quin. Barber replaced free safety Eugene Wilson, who was sidelined with flu-like symptoms.

Linebacker Brian Cushing led the defense with seven tackles, a safety and a punishing hit on tight end Zach Miller early in the fourth quarter that sidelined the Raiders' leading pass catcher for the remainder of the game.

The matchup that everyone was watching between Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson and All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha ended in a draw. Johnson had two catches for 66 yards, including a game-long 62-yard grab.

{QUOTE}Part of Johnson's lack of touches was due to the Texans' dedication to the running game. The team finished with 41 carries for 120 yards and was led by running back Steve Slaton, who rebounded from a fumble to finish with 65 yards on 21 attempts with a 32-yard touchdown run.

In the first quarter, Johnson's big gain set up Kris Brown for a 26-yard field goal to give Houston an early 3-0 lead.

On the Raiders' second possession, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye sacked quarterback JaMarcus Russell for a five-yard loss on second down. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans then stopped running back Michael Bush for a one-yard loss on third-and-long to force Oakland's second punt.

Oakland's offense returned to the field less than a minute later after Slaton's fumble was recovered by Matt Shaugnessy. Sebastian Janikowski's 46-yard field goal capped a five-play, 15-yard scoring drive.

Schaub completed another long pass on the next series, connecting with Kevin Walter for 41 yards to the Oakland 24. Four plays later, Brown's 34-yard field goal gave the Texans a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

The Texans extended their lead when Slaton rushed in for a 32-yard touchdown on a delayed handoff. On the drive, Slaton and running back Ryan Moats totaled 67 yards on five carries on the drive.

Slaton credits his teammates' encouragement with helping him rebound.

"The team rallied around me and told me that I needed to make a big play and that they believed in me and that I was going to get another chance," he said.

A career-long 44-yard catch by tight end Owen Daniels to the Oakland 17 set up Slaton's second touchdown of the game on an 18-yard screen pass. Slaton lined up wide left and followed blocks by Johnson, Duane Brown and Kasey Studdard into the end zone.

Raiders first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey responded with an 18-yard catch and 20-yard end around to move Oakland into Houston territory. On fourth-and-nine at the 35-yard line, Russell completed a 19-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Louis Murphy. Four plays later, Janikowski booted a 33-yard field goal that made the score 20-6 with 2:05 left before halftime.

Running the two-minute offense, Schaub completed a 17-yard pass to tight end Joel Dreessen before finding wide receiver David Anderson open for 14 yards. An additional 15 yards was tacked onto the play because of unnecessary roughness. On third down, Schaub's pass intended for Johnson was picked off by cornerback Chris Johnson in the end zone.

With 10:29 remaining in the third quarter, the Texans collected their first takeaway on a fumble recovery by defensive end Antonio Smith. Ryans tackled Bush and forced the fumble at the Oakland 41. Four plays later, Matt Turk 's punt was downed at the one-yard line by André Davis.

On the first play, Cushing shot through a gap to wrestle down Fargas in the end zone to make the score 22-6 with 8:53 left in the third quarter. On the ensuing kick return, Jones sprinted through the middle of Oakland's coverage team to score on a 95-yard touchdown.

Defensive end Mario Williams forced the Raiders' second turnover with 10:15 left in the game when he sacked Russell at the Oakland 20 and ripped the ball away. Rookie defensive end Connor Barwin recovered for no gain. Four plays later, Brown missed a 33-yard attempt wide left.

Inside two minutes remaining in the contest, safety Dominique Barber collected the Texans' third takeaway when he recovered a fumbled punt return by Johnnie Lee Higgins at the Oakland 33.

"I think today we just made it a point to all stick together, be about each other, and play with each other," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "When we're all on the same page, good things will happen."

Injuries: Linebacker Khary Campbell sprained his left knee on special teams early in the second half. He did not return. Safety Nick Ferguson also sprained his left knee and did not return.

The Texans' inactives included Wilson, quarterback Dan Orlovsky (third QB), wide receiver Glenn Martinez , cornerback Antwaun Molden , cornerback Jacques Reeves , center Antoine Caldwell , tight end Anthony Hill and defensive tackle Frank Okam .

Kubiak said after the game that running back Chris Brown and linebacker Xavier Adibi fell ill in the past few days. Brown did not play in the game, while Adibi played only on special teams.

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