EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Texans were kicked out of New York on Sunday.
Thanks to Mike Nugent's four field goals, including a career-long 54-yarder, the Jets took an early lead and never relinquished it in a 26-11 victory over the Texans at The Meadowlands.
A 9-3 halftime lead quickly grew to a 20-point advantage in the third quarter after the Jets engineered a 91-yard touchdown drive, which was sandwiched between consecutive three-and-out possessions by the Texans.
After David Carr threw an interception on the Texans' third possession of the third quarter, the Jets capitalized by adding another touchdown to put the game out of reach.
"We made some big mistakes in the third quarter that were inexcusable: going the wrong way trying to hand the ball off, some alignment things that we did," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "The third quarter just made no sense. That's on me. That's on us as coaches. The players start doing that, and that's the difference in the game.
"We had a good football game. The defense played extremely well in the first half. We need a play in the third quarter to make a difference, and they made every play in the third quarter and we made absolutely none."
Aside from his turnover, Carr completed a career-high 39 passes on 54 attempts for a season-high 321 yards with one touchdown, while wide receivers Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds caught 10 passes apiece.
The Texans won the battle of time possession and totaled more passing yards than the Jets, but also committed seven penalties – compared to one for New York – and had just 14 rushing attempts.
"We did not run the ball well today, in all honesty," Kubiak said. "I don't know how hard we tried to run the ball. I have to go back and look at myself from that standpoint, what we were doing calling plays. We were out of whack as far as way too many throws to runs. Our football team can't play that way. We have to keep our third downs manageable. Even if we're struggling running the ball, we have to figure out a way to pound it to stay on schedule."
The Jets struck first in the game following a fumbled snap by punter Chad Stanley with 4:38 left in the first quarter. The Jets tackled Stanley for a nine-yard loss at their 46-yard line.
New York quickly marched into Houston territory when Pennington connected with wide receiver Laveranues Coles for a 36-yard reception to the Texans' nine-yard line. Nugent capped the drive by booting a 23-yard field goal to give the Jets a 3-0 lead.
Another Stanley punt a series later led to a nine-play, 64-yard scoring drive for the Jets. Pennington completed one pass for 10 yards, and the Texans were penalized 32 yards on a pass interference call on cornerback Demarcus Faggins to set up Nugent's 34-yard field goal with 9:50 left in the first half.
Kubiak questioned the costly penalty after it appeared wide receiver Justin McCareins caught the ball out of bounds.
"(The official) thought it was catchable," Kubiak said. "And I told him I didn't think there was any way that was possible. To be honest with you, I don't see how he could make that decision – the guy on the side. I think somebody's got to come in and see that that ball was way out of bounds and help him out there."
Trailing 6-0, the Texans responded with a nine-play, 38-yard drive over 4:47. Carr completed three passes for 45 yards to three different receivers. After Carr's pass intended for Johnson fell incomplete on third-and-10 from the New York 29, Kris Brown converted a 47-yard field goal to cut the Jets' lead with 4:59 left in the first half.
On the ensuing drive, Pennington completed three of his four pass attempts for 40 yards to lead the Jets inside Houston territory before defensive tackle Anthony Weaver tackled running back Brad Smith for a 10-yard loss to the Houston 36. After an incomplete pass, Nugent nailed his 54-yard field goal to stretch the Jets' lead to 9-3 with 1:14 remaining in the first half.
The Texans moved the ball to the New York 41 with three seconds remaining on the game clock. After the Texans burned their final timeout, Brown attempted a 59-yard field goal that fell short. Cornerback Justin Miller retrieved the ball in the end zone, but was brought down by quarterback Sage Rosenfels - the holder - on the Jets' 19-yard line as the first half concluded.
Rosenfels injured his throwing hand on the diving stop, but Kubiak admired the effort.
"I thought it was a hell of a play," Kubiak said. "We were in trouble. The kid's the best returner in football. (Sage) did a heck of a job. He went down there and made a play."
The Jets' offense began the third quarter at its nine-yard line after Stanley's 55-yard punt. A nine-yard pass to wide receiver Tim Dwight on third down, followed by a 28-yard completion to tight end Chris Baker, gave New York a first down near midfield.
Two plays later, Pennington found Cotchery for a 35-yard gain to the Houston 12. Coles finished the drive by hauling in a 12-yard touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone, giving the Jets a 16-3 lead after Nugent's extra point.
With 5:16 left in the third quarter, the Texans started their third drive of the second half from their 20-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Carr's pass intended for Johnson was intercepted by safety Kerry Rhodes at the Houston 35. Running back Cedric Houston dove in for a one-yard touchdown four plays later to help give the Jets a 23-3 lead.
The Jets scored again with 8:11 remaining in the game thanks to a methodical 13-play, 48-yard drive. New York converted a bold fourth-and-one call from their 39-yard line when Pennington dove forward to move the chains. Nugent finished the series with a 41-yard field goal, extending the lead to 26-3.
Carr completed eight passes for 70 yards on the next possession, capping the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Johnson. Carr found running back Wali Lundy open on a play action pass on the two-point conversion to cut New York's lead to 26-11 with 3:54 remaining in the game.
An onside kick attempt by the Texans was recovered by the Jets. After a three-play, three-yard drive, the Jets punted, giving Houston a final possession starting from their five-yard line with 3:27 left on the game clock. Carr completed 10 passes for 83 yards before Moulds hauled in a nine-yard pass at the Jets' three-yard line as time expired on the Texans' 11 th game of the season.