Texans-Jags postgame notebook

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The Texans shined bright on Monday Night Football. Steve Slaton ran for two touchdowns, and Mario Williams registered three sacks to lead the Texans to a 30-17 victory over Jacksonville.

Protect the ball, win the game: Turnovers have been the Texans' Achilles heel this season. Coming into Monday's game, Houston had won the turnover battle just twice, beating Cincinnati ( 3) and Cleveland ( 3).

It was no surprise that coach Gary Kubiak told his team before the game that earning a primetime win would come down to protecting the ball.

"If we win turnover battles, we win games," Kubiak said. "I showed our players a stat the other night that we've won 13 turnover battles in my two-and-a half years here, and we're 11-2 in those games. The last eight turnover battles we've won, we've won every one of those games, so that makes it nine.

"If you win the turnover battle, you're getting great field position, good things are happening for your team. It's always been a key for us, and we've obviously done a better job here in the last few weeks."

Kubiak's troops followed his advice, forcing three takeaways to finish plus-2 in the turnover margin. Defensive tackle DelJuan Robinson forced a fumble for the first time in his career. Defensive end Mario Williams had a forced fumble to go along with three sacks.

"We are being a little bit more aggressive with our calls and we're handling the calls and not giving up big plays," Kubiak said. "They (the defense) have been the strength of the team these last few weeks. They've really led the way."

Cornerback Jacques Reeves recorded his fourth interception of the season when he picked off David Garrard in the first quarter. Reeves has picked off a pass in both of the last two games and is tied for third in the AFC in interceptions.

"We have the pieces here," Reeves said. "We just have to bring it together. The last few weeks, we've been focusing on being more disciplined, making more plays and playing more intense football then we've been doing."

{QUOTE}After not allowing a touchdown and recording a season-high five takeaways at Cleveland, the Texans did not surrender a touchdown until 2:11 remaining in the game. The Jags' final score came with 39 seconds left.

Now, the defense hopes that strong performance on the national stage will earn them more respect around the league.

"We've always thought that we had good players and we always thought that we never have gotten the recognition we deserved," cornerback Dunta Robinson said.

"We were like kids in the candy stores. The stage was big, and we went out there and got the job done. We just want to show the world that we can play football."

'Dre's Monday night debut: Since the Texans drafted Andre Johnson with the third overall pick in 2003, the wide receiver had been watching his friends play on Monday Night Football week after week. He finally got to take the stage and show the nation why he's the league's leading receiver with 88 catches for 1,146 yards.

"Everyone was pumped," Johnson said. "We were sitting there in the locker room at halftime and guys couldn't wait to go back out. Coach was just saying, 'We still have a few more minutes before we go out.' Everyone was so pumped."

'Dre's biggest play came on the first drive of the game. The receiver caught a 31-yard touchdown pass and surprised himself with the score because the pylon was placed on the outside of the sideline instead of in the front corner of the end zone.

"It did confuse me a little bit because I was looking for the orange pylon, but it wasn't there," Johnson said. "When I reached out, I was thinking maybe I might have been out of bounds before I got in, but the ref said I got in."

Johnson finished the game with seven catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. Johnson's touchdown gave him 174 career points, putting him in first place in franchise history among non-kickers.

Slaton sets himself apart: Running back Steve Slaton was the star of the show on Monday, rushing for 130 yards and two touchdowns. That was good for the second-most yards rushing on MNF this season.

Slaton's blazing speed had the ESPN crew buzzing, and his 40-yard touchdown run helped him earn the post-game interview with reporter Michelle Tafoya.

"I've been wanting to run the ball on this stage and leave no regrets," Slaton said.

To read more about Slaton, click here.

Props all around: Kubiak was proud of the team's effort on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the Texans were aggressive, running more zone blitzes and making plays on the ball.

"Our defense played extremely well and gave us tremendous opportunities," Kubiak said. "I think had we been playing really sharp on the offensive side of the ball, we could have really put some points on the board. But the team effort - everybody was ready to play. We're flying around."

Houston's fans also deserve kudos. They were loud on defense and helped force Jacksonville to commit four false starts.

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