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Texans fall to Raiders 27-16


OAKLAND - The Texans had two win streaks to keep alive Sunday and both came to a sudden and unexpected halt as the team lost to the Oakland Raiders 27-16 on a cold, drizzly afternoon at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

The defeat is the Texans' first in the past five games and first-ever to the Raiders in the teams' four meetings.

With the Texans coming off an emotional win over the AFC South champion Tennessee Titans last Sunday, the loss to the Raiders, who entered the game with a 3-11 record, reinforced a valuable lesson.

"We go and beat the best team in football and if we are not ready to go, anybody can beat us, too," coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's part of this game, and I knew that before this game started. That's part of the NFL. As I told them, it always starts with me. Obviously, I didn't have them ready to play."

Oakland used a career-best performance from quarterback JaMarcus Russell (128.1 passer rating) and the running back tandem of Justin Fargas and rookie Darren McFadden to control the game clock (31:29) and gain a game-high 362 net yards of offense.

Meanwhile, the Texans' top offensive threat, wide receiver Andre Johnson , was held in check by the Raiders, who limited the Pro Bowler to two catches for 19 yards – Johnson's lowest yardage output of the season and his fewest catches since Week 3 at Tennessee.

{QUOTE}Kubiak wasn't concerned about Johnson's touches since the Texans totaled 324 net yards of offense, led by tight end Owen Daniels' seven catches for 111 yards (15.9 avg.).

"We were moving the ball," Kubiak said. "They weren't sending 21 (Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha) with him all day. They really didn't do that matchup-wise. They were just playing their defense, and they're a pretty good pass defense as they have been pretty much all year long.

"We didn't play well in the red zone. We haven't been playing well in the red zone the past two or three weeks. That ended up being the difference as far as where the game was headed late in the game."

In four red zone trips, the Texans scored only one touchdown. On third down, the Texans converted only three times on 13 attempts (23 percent).

The game turned against the Texans with 8:17 remaining and the Raiders leading 27-16. Facing third-and-one at Oakland's five-yard line, quarterback Matt Schaub 's pass intended for wide receiver Kevin Walter fell incomplete.

Rather than attempt a field goal, Kubiak kept his offense on the field for fourth down. Schaub faked a handoff to running back Steve Slaton and then rifled a pass to Walter that fell incomplete in the middle of the end zone.

Kubiak and Schaub anticipated more pressure from the Raiders' defense, which dropped into coverage.

"I think we were expecting to come after them with one-on-one routes from the outside and they ended up playing coverage, so there wasn't much there," Schaub said. "I tried to get it in there to Kevin there in the end zone and it just didn't end up working out in my favor."

After forcing an Oakland punt, the Texans missed another potential scoring opportunity with 4:23 left in the game when Schaub's pass intended for Johnson was intercepted by cornerback Chris Johnson. It was the Texans' only turnover of the game, and it proved costly as the Raiders picked up a first down and forced the Texans to burn their remaining timeouts.

"I'm just very disappointed," Kubiak said. "I expect our football team to play well and win. And if we go out there and play like that, we're not going to win. I said that all week. I was a little concerned Thursday when I left the practice field. I thought we practiced well on Friday. I thought we were ready to go, but obviously we were not."

Oakland scored on the game's opening drive thanks to cornerback Justin Miller's 29-yard kickoff return and a 21-yard catch by tight end Zach Miller. On third-and-two from the Houston 20, Russell found wide receiver Chaz Schilens in the back of the end zone to cap the eight-play, 64-yard series.

In three plays, the Texans drove to the three-yard line on two catches by Daniels for 55 yards and a 13-yard rush by Walter on an end around. On third-and-goal from the one-yard line, fullback Vonta Leach muscled his way over the goal line for a touchdown.
Schilens' 24-yard reception to the Houston 23 set up Sebastian Janikowski's 33-yard field goal, which gave Oakland a 10-7 lead with 3:42 left in the first quarter.

Oakland maintained possession by recovering an onside kick at the Houston 44. Two catches for 30 yards by Miller gave the Raiders a first down at the Houston 20. Three plays later, Janikowski's 30-yard field goal stretched his team's lead.

The Texans' offense returned to the field from their 10-yard line with 11:04 left in the first half. Slaton's 19-yard run gave the offense some breathing room. Schaub dove for a first down on fourth-and-inches from the Houston 38 to keep the drive alive, and then Daniels' 14-yard grab set up a 53-yard field goal attempt for Kris Brown , whose line drive snuck over the cross bar with 6:11 left before halftime.

Brown followed that up with a 23-yard field goal with 38 seconds remaining in the first half after wide receiver David Anderson 's career-long 65-yard catch to the Oakland 14.

But the Raiders made a big push in the third quarter courtesy of second-year wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins, who scored twice in a five-minute span. The speedster from UTEP caught a 29-yard touchdown, which he followed with an 80-yard touchdown on a punt return through the middle of the Texans' coverage unit.

Early in the fourth quarter, Johnson made his first and only catches of the game for 19 total yards as the Texans entered Oakland territory. But guard Chester Pitts was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, leading to a third-and-goal situation from the 22-yard line. Brown's 40-yard field goal made the score 27-16 with 9:55 left in the game.

On the penalty, Pitts' helmet was slapped off his head by defensive tackle Terdell Sands, but officials only witnessed Pitts' reaction.

"Any time something happens on the football field, if you are the second guy, you are going to get the flag," Kubiak said. "They told me he was the second guy, so he got the flag. We lost our composure and it hurt the football team."

On the next play from scrimmage, though, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye sacked Russell, forcing a fumble that linebacker Kevin Bentley recovered for no gain at the Oakland 14.

But on fourth-and-one at the five-yard line, Schaub's attempted touchdown pass to Walter fell incomplete in traffic.

By the time the Texans' offense returned to the field at the Oakland 40 after Jacoby Jones' 23-yard punt return, only 4:23 remained in the game. Schaub was intercepted on the first play of the possession.

The Texans (7-8) return to Reliant Stadium next Sunday in their season finale against the Chicago Bears on Fan Appreciation Day, presented by FSN Houston.

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