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Houston Texans

Texans fall to Vikes 28-21


MINNEAPOLIS– As much progress as the Texans made in October, it's clear that the team still needs to work on its recurring turnover issue, which crept up again Sunday.

The Texans (3-5) turned the ball over three times, all inside Minnesota Vikings' territory, which contributed to a 28-21 loss in Houston's first-ever trip to the Metrodome.

With the Texans' three-game win streak in the rear view, it's back to the drawing board for an offense that seems to be limited only by its tendency to turn the ball over.

After all, the Texans managed to control possession for the majority of the game (32:22) and totaled 327 net passing yards, the second-highest total of the season. But mistakes at inopportune times continue to plague the team on the road, where the Texans remain winless this year.

"We knew we would have to come in here and play clean," coach Gary Kubiak said. "We talked last night about winning the turnover battle – that's something if our team does, we are pretty hard to beat."

All three turnovers – two interceptions and a fumble – can be traced to the Texans' quarterbacks. That's causing Kubiak to rethink his approach.

"Obviously, I've got to do something else," Kubiak said. "I've got to find a way to get them to quit turning the ball over."

The most pressing concern right now is the health of Matt Schaub, who missed the entire second half with a "sprain" to his left knee. The injury appeared to occur in the second quarter when Schaub was hit below the waist after completing a 17-yard pass to tight end Owen Daniels.

Later in the same drive, Schaub's pass to fullback Vonta Leach was underthrown and picked off by cornerback Antoine Winfield.

On the subsequent two series, Schaub fumbled twice, resulting in one giveaway and the decision by Kubiak to start Sage Rosenfels in the third quarter.

"I didn't think he could protect himself," Kubiak said of Schaub. "(Matt) was convinced he could stay. I watched as he worked through that second quarter, he still made a couple of plays. But when he came in at halftime, the knee had swelled. It had obviously stiffened up when I watched him come out in the second half and try to drop back."

{QUOTE}Schaub finished 11-of-16 for 139 yards with the two giveaways, while Rosenfels completed 21-of-29 passes for 224 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Both players were pressured all day as the Texans had a season-high 45 pass attempts, which led to five sacks for the Vikings.

That being said, the Texans were in position to tie the game in the final two minutes. Trailing 28-21 with no timeouts, Rosenfels led the no-huddle offense from the Houston 10.

After an eight-yard completion, Rosenfels overthrew wide receiver Andre Johnson on second down and was sacked on the Texans' final two plays of the game to end the team's comeback hopes.

Johnson, the AFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, had only one catch for four yards in the first half and finished with four receptions for 62 yards (15.5 avg.), his lowest output since Week 4 at Jacksonville.

"They played him a ton of two-deep, a very aggressive Cover 2," Kubiak said. "They jammed him at the line of scrimmage. We did a little bit of everything, but give them credit. They did a good job and rushed the passer incredibly well."

The attention that Johnson received created opportunities for tight end Owen Daniels, who had a career-high 11 catches for 133 yards (12.1 avg.). Meanwhile, running back Steve Slaton carried the run game with Ahman Green (groin) inactive. The rookie had 118 yards from scrimmage.

As the Texans' offense struggled to produce consecutive scoring drives in the game, the Vikings kept feeding Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson, who had 25 carries for 139 yards (5.6 avg.) and a touchdown after gaining only 36 yards in the first half.

The Vikings set the tone on their first play when quarterback Gus Frerotte and wide receiver Bernard Berrian connected on a 55-yard play action pass to the Houston 11. Three plays later, Peterson jumped over the goal line for a one-yard touchdown.

The Texans forced the first turnover of the game on Minnesota's second drive, when cornerback Jacques Reeves picked off Frerotte's pass intended for Berrian and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown with 8:38 left in the first quarter.

Minnesota regained the lead, though, on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Frerotte to wide receiver Sidney Rice early in the second quarter.

The momentum continued to tilt in the Vikings' favor on the Texans' ensuing series after Schaub began to limp and was intercepted.

That turnover was followed by a sack and forced fumble by linebacker Chad Greenway. The ball was recovered by linebacker Ben Leber at the Vikings' 44-yard line.

Minnesota took a 21-7 lead into halftime when Frerotte found Berrian open for a 49-yard touchdown.

Rosenfels threw a 23-yard pass to Johnson and a 21-yard pass to Daniels for his first two completions of the game. He finished the opening drive of the second half with a three-yard touchdown to wide receiver David Anderson to help make the score 21-14.

Cornerback Fred Bennett had an interception glance off his fingertips on the Vikings' first drive of the third quarter when Frerotte's pass to Berrian was bobbled in the air on third down.

Rosenfels' second drive ended with a turnover on third-and-inches at the Minnesota 18 with 1:59 left in the third quarter. His pass intended for wide receiver Kevin Walter was picked off by safety Madieu Williams in the end zone.

"You don't have to make that play," Kubiak said. "We are only down a touchdown, if I'm right. If you don't have a play there, we just throw it away there. We'll kick the field goal and keep playing."

On the next play, Peterson rushed off the left tackle for a 40-yard gain to the Houston 40. Fortunately, the drive stalled after defensive end Mario Williams sacked Frerotte for a six-yard loss to help force a punt.

Peterson was just warming up, though. He rushed twice for 43 yards on the following possession to set up Frerotte's 25-yard touchdown to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.

Trailing 28-14 with 6:26 left in the game, the Texans marched into Minnesota territory thanks to three catches by Daniels for 39 yards. On third-and-goal, Johnson caught a 14-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone to help make the score 28-21 with 2:58 left in the contest.

After Minnesota recovered the onside kick at the Houston 41, the Texans dodged a bullet when Frerotte's play action pass to Shiancoe fell incomplete on third down, forcing a punt that sailed out of bounds at the Houston 10.

In the potential game-tying drive, the Texans couldn't get off a pass on their final two plays.

Injury report

  • Quarterback Matt Schaub left the game at halftime with a left knee injury.
  • Linebacker Chaun Thompson left the game in the second half with a hamstring injury.
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