Kicker Kris Brown's 40-yard field goal in the second quarter was his 17th of the season, but it was not enough to help the Texans overcome the San Diego Chargers, who won by a score of 35-10.
Echemandu shines: Running back Adimchinobi Echemandu impressed in his first game as a Texan, rushing for 62 yards and averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Echemandu, who moved up from the practice squad days before the game, broke free for a 20-yard run in the first quarter and provided the offensive spark the Texans have been craving.
"He's a hard-working kid and he helped us out in there," quarterback Sage Rosenfels said. "He wasn't confused. He knew what he was doing. He ran hard."
Echemandu's hard play helped the team post its second-best rushing numbers of the season with 115 total yards rushing. The team's best performance on the ground came in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers when starting running back Ahman Green posted 71 yards and the team totaled 119 yards rushing.
After Green suffered a knee injury in Week 3, the running game began to struggle with the Texans averaging just 3.1 yards per carry so far this season. Green returned to action in Week 6 in Jacksonville and was expected to play against the Chargers, but swelling in his knee after Friday's practice forced him to the sidelines.
"He took a few reps Friday and he told me Friday after practice that he could not play," head coach Gary Kubiak said.
The Texans hope that Echemandu, who tweaked a hamstring in the game, and Green can work as a tandem threat in the upcoming game against the Oakland Raiders.
Schaub hurting: Quarterback Matt Schaub left the game in the second quarter after San Diego cornerback Drayton Florence delivered a late blow on the quarterback. Florence, who was called for unnecessary roughness, pummeled Schaub after he threw the interception.
"I haven't seen the play, except for what I saw on the field, but the guy peeled on him and got a good shot on him," Kubiak said. "You're not supposed to be able to do that on a quarterback in that situation, but I don't want to pass judgment. I've got to look at the play."
After the play, Schaub went to the hospital to undergo tests for a head injury. The quarterback later rejoined the team for the plane trip back to Houston.
"It's happened three weeks in a row now, and as a backup quarterback I enjoy playing, but you don't like seeing your buddy and your starting quarterback out there on the ground hurt.," Rosenfels said. "It's very upsetting."
Rosenfels took over for Schaub and threw for 176 yards and a touchdown. Schaub entered the game still sore from the ankle and hip injuries he suffered when Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth knocked him out in Week 7.
What next?: Kubiak could not hide his disappointment after the team's loss to the Chargers. Turnovers continued to plague the Texans with the team throwing four interceptions and giving away a fumble for a touchdown.
"It's just very sloppy football team right now," Kubiak said. "We just did a lot of things to hurt ourselves, whether it's busting the coverage, busting a snap, throwing interceptions, turning the ball over – you can't win in this league that way."
The head coach will review the game film on Monday and try to figure out why the team is having trouble holding on the ball.
"We just continue to shoot ourselves in the foot," Kubiak said. "We can't play a clean football game. Whatever the reason is, we've got to figure it out."
Rosenfels said change needed to begin with each player accepting responsibility for his mistakes and then taking it upon himself to fix those mistakes.
"I hope each guy on the team isn't pointing the finger and I don't think they will," Rosenfels said. "But I think everybody's got to look at themselves and see how they performed. If everyone just worries about their own jobs, that's how we'll get it on track."
Noteworthy: Defensive end Mario Williams earned his fourth sack of the season, taking down Chargers quarterback (and former N.C. State Wolfpack player) Philip Rivers in the third quarter for a two-yard loss.
Tight end Joel Dreessen recorded his first career touchdown reception, grabbing a 28-yard pass from Rosenfels late in the fourth quarter.
Wideout Kevin Walter led the team in receiving yards for the third consecutive game, finishing with seven catches for 77 yards. The five-year veteran now has 40 catches for 512 yards, both career highs.
Wide receiver André Davis took over duties as the team's primary kickoff returner, returning five kicks and averaging 19.6 yards per return.
Honorary captain Schwarzenegger: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to Qualcomm Stadium to dedicate Sunday's game to the California firefighters who battled the area's raging forest fires.
Schwarzenegger served as an honorary captain, leading a pregame ceremony that included a video tribute to the hundreds of residents who lost their homes.
When the wind-whipped fires swept through San Diego County a week earlier, the Chargers relocated to Phoenix and more than 10,000 evacuees took shelter at the stadium. The game almost was moved to a different time and location, but San Diego was able to get the stadium ready for the regularly scheduled kickoff.