EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Texans are 5-0 after grinding out a narrow victory on the road over the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.
Running back Arian Foster had 29 carries for 152 yards and a touchdown as the Texans won 23-17 at MetLife Stadium. Defensive end J.J. Watt had six tackles, one sack and three passes defensed to help the Texans overcome the loss of star linebacker Brian Cushing to a knee injury early in the second quarter.
"I'm very proud of our team," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "(It's) tough to go on the road Monday night and get it done, but we stood up and did it. I'm very proud of them."
The Texans outrushed the Jets 169-69 and controlled the ball for 35:16. They were 6-of-13 (40 percent) on third down but just 1-of-3 in the red zone, twice settling for short field goals by Shayne Graham.
On defense, the Texans had two sacks and two interceptions on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Backup Tim Tebow played sparingly, throwing one pass and running five times for 19 yards.
After losing 38-0 to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4, the Jets pulled out all the stops as they looked to avoid falling to 2-3. Tebow ran for a first down on a fake punt on the first play of the second quarter on fourth-and-one from New York's 24-yard line. The Jets unsuccessfully tried a surprise onside kick midway through the third quarter.
"We knew we came in here with a team that was really backed into the corner, so to speak, coming out of last week," Kubiak said. "We were going to get everything. They threw the kitchen sink at us from onside kicks to fake punts, you name it. We got it all, and I thought we really were handling ourselves well. We just couldn't make that play to put the game away."
The Texans led 17-7 at halftime. Matt Schaub threw a 34-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to tight end Owen Daniels, who was wide open off a play-action fake. Foster ran for a 13-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, one series after he broke loose for a season-long 46-yard run.
Schaub was picked off by cornerback Antonio Cromartie with 5:54 remaining in the first quarter, trying to throw to Andre Johnson over the middle in double coverage. That gave the Jets a short field and led to a 27-yard touchdown catch by tight end Jeff Cumberland.
The Jets threatened to tie the game at 14 late in the second quarter, driving to the Texans' 12-yard line with 29 seconds remaining. Watt tipped a Sanchez at the line of scrimmage, and cornerback Brice McCain intercepted it and returned the ball 86 yards to the Jets' 9-yard line. That set up Graham for a 27-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
Graham added a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter to give the Texans a 20-7 lead. The Jets responded with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Joe McKnight. The Texans and Jets then traded short field goals to make the score 23-17 with 11:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Watt made another key play with 7:04 remaining, sacking Sanchez for a five-yard loss on third-and-10 from the Houston 35. That knocked the Jets out of field goal range and forced them to punt. The Texans ran three minutes off the clock before punting back to the Jets with 3:28 left to play.
"We feel like even if the offense is rolling, we put it on our shoulders," Watt said of the Texans' defense. "That's how we want it. The offense did their job. The defense, we did our job, and that's how you win ball games in this league."
Cornerback Kareem Jackson helped preserve the Texans' victory with a late interception of Sanchez near midfield at the two-minute warning. The Jets had one more chance from their 9-yard line with 0:04 remaining, but Watt tipped Sanchez's pass at the line of scrimmage to end the game.
Up next for the undefeated Texans is a home game against the Green Bay Packers (2-3) on Sunday Night Football.
"Very excited to get a victory on the road here in a tough place to play against a good football team," Schaub said. "To be 5-0 at this point, we're extremely excited about it, but we can't be excited for too long. We have a short week to get ready for Green Bay this week."