ST. LOUIS- The Texans followed a record-setting performance in their first preseason game of the season with another in their second, resetting the franchise high for single-game points in the exhibition season, defeating the St. Louis Rams 27-20 Saturday night at the Edward Jones Dome.
Vernand Morency dazzled in his first action this season, racking up a game-high 95 yards on 11 carries to go with two touchdowns. He outgained the entire Rams' offense on the ground as St. Louis managed just 61 yards from scrimmage.
Antwan Peek added two timely sacks and a forced fumble for a Texans' defense that spent nearly 37 minutes on the field, but was still able to mount a goal line stand late in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
fell behind 3-0 early, but controlled the game from there as Texans' starters played the entire first half, leading 10-3 at intermission.
The Texans received the ball to start the game and were only able to manage to move the ball 15 yards from their own 30-yard line thanks to a roughing-the-passer penalty on the Rams.
The Rams, in the shadow of their own goalpost thanks to a 48-yard punt from Chad Stanley, converted on their first third down of the night with a Marc Bulger completion to Kevin Curtis. The
drive stalled soon after, and Phillip Buchanon got possession back for the Texans at their own 31 after a fair catch on a punt.
The Rams went right to work on their next drive. Bulger found Torry Holt for an 18-yard completion. Buchanon forced a fumble on the next play, but the Rams recovered. After a 25-yard reception to Aaron Walker, the Texans' defense dug in and held the Rams to a 32-yard field goal by Remy Hamilton to make the score 3-0 with just under seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. The St. Louis drive was seven plays and covered 52 yards in about two and half minutes.
The Texans answered right back, moving the ball quickly into Rams' territory. The drive was fueled by a 20-yard pass play to Jeb Putzier, who creeped out on a screen. Wali Lundy followed Putzier with a 21-yard scamper down the left sideline, but a holding penalty on Lundy on the next play, and a sack of David Carr, stalled the drive. Still, the Texans were in position to put points on the board, but Kris Brown missed a 39-yard attempt that would have tied the game. Brown's attempt came after the Texans challenged a fumble ruling on the field that would have given the Rams the ball close to the 50.
managed one first down on the subsequent series after the Brown miss. Antwan Peek's sack of Bulger ended the first quarter and the Rams drive.
Buchanon tried to ignite a Texans' scoring drive with a 32-yard return of Matt Turk's 50-yard punt, but
couldn't break into Rams' territory despite starting the drive on their own 39.
The Rams faired no better on their next drive, and Turk booted a 59-yard punt that out-kicked his coverage. Buchanon took advantage, returning the kick 33 yards to the
- Once in Rams' territory, the Texans quickly marched toward the goal line.
used a seven-play, 45-yard drive to get on the scoreboard. Morency racked up 23 yards on the drive, which took just over three-and-a-half minutes off the clock Morency punctuated his first foray into the game with a four-yard touchdown bolt into the teeth of the Rams' defense.
The two teams traded possessions before the Rams launched another scoring attack. With Gus Frerotte at the helm, the Rams regained some momentum on offense. After
But the Texans' defense held up thanks to a second sack from Peek and a holding penalty on the Rams.
took over at the Rams' 41-yard line with 25 seconds remaining in the half.
Instead of sitting on the ball up, the Texans attacked and moved the ball 29 yards in just 24 seconds. Brown converted on a 48-yard attempt, and
took a 10-3 lead into the locker room.
The Rams got the ball to start the second half, but Peek ripped the ball loose from Moe Williams on St. Louis' first play from scrimmage. Buchanon picked up the ball and returned it 10 yards to the Rams' 16-yard line. The Rams' defense held, and
settled for a 27-yard field goal.
The Texans nearly stopped the Rams on their next possession. Faced with a fourth-and-three
rolled the dice and was able to draw a pass interference penalty inside the Texans' 10-yard line. Two plays later, McDonald was in the end zone via a four-yard pass from Frerotte, cutting Houston's lead to 13-10 with just more than 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
returned the favor, when Morency finished a five-play, 81-yard touchdown drive with a 43-yard sprint up the middle. He went untouched into the end zone for his second score of the day and the longest rush in Texans' preseason history.
, not shaken by Morency's bolt, used two Texans' penalties to draw within three points, 20-17, late in third quarter with Fred Russell adding the touchdown for the Rams.
It didn't take long for
pounded out a 12-play, 69-yard drive that lasted close to six minutes on their
next possession. However,
took possession on their own 39 with just over four minutes remaining, a comeback appeared to be possible.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Rams' third quarterback of the night, led the Rams on a drive of more than 40 yards that got St. Louis to the Texans' two-yard line and on the brink of knotting the score.
The Rams had first-and-goal from their two-yard line, but couldn't push it into the end zone, leading to their first loss of the preseason. With the win,
won consecutive preseason games for the first time in franchise history.