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Texans lose to Falcons 26-16



ATLANTA - The Texans proved through the first three weeks of the 2007 season that they can play with any team in the NFL. On Sunday, the team had trouble finding its prior form as the winless Atlanta Falcons notched their first victory of the season, 26-16, over the Texans in front of 69,312 fans at the Georgia Dome.

With two giveaways on offense, and Falcons quarterback Joey Harrington's efficient outing (23-of-29 passing, 223 yards and two touchdowns), the Texans had trouble getting back in the game after trailing throughout the second half by as many as 10 points on two occasions.

In his return to Atlanta, quarterback Matt Schaub tried to mount a comeback, but his 317 passing yards on 40 attempts were not enough to climb the team out of a hole.

Coach Gary Kubiak commented on Schaub's performance after the game.

"Our quarterback is playing extremely well," Kubiak said. "He cannot turn the ball over. We have to protect the ball in the pocket, but he is playing well. Our effort is not a problem at all, but we are not playing very clean and when you don't play clean you can expect to get beat."

With injuries sidelining wide receivers Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones and Jerome Mathis, as well as starting running back Ahman Green and starting center Steve McKinney, it took a while for the offense to find its rhythm. In three red zone trips, the Texans were unable to score a single touchdown, as Kris Brown converted three of four field goal attempts.

Schaub lamented the missed opportunities after the game.

"When you get down inside the 10-yard line and kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns, it is very frustrating," Schaub said. "No one feels good in the locker room. We all worked hard so no one will feel good about (the loss)."

Meanwhile, the Texans' defense was getting worn out thanks to Atlanta's time of possession advantage, which was more than six minutes in the first half, and nearly 10 minutes for the entire game.

{QUOTE}The Texans also were penalized twice in the first quarter on special teams, which killed the Texans' field position on one series and gave Atlanta's offense half a field to work with on the Falcons' first scoring drive that Morten Andersen capped with a 28-yard field goal.

"We had penalties on special teams," Kubiak said. "Offensively, we turned the ball over for the fourth week in a row. We're not going to win if we continue to do that. Our defense didn't get to their quarterback. So it was those three things (that contributed to the loss)."

Trailing 3-0 with 8:09 left in the first quarter, Ron Dayne's 25-yard run to the Atlanta 35 moved the Texans into scoring position. Schaub finished the series with a 35-yard touchdown pass to André Davis, who made an acrobatic catch despite being interfered with by cornerback Chris Houston.

A seven-play, 68-yard Falcons' drive, highlighted by wide receiver Roddy White's 34-yard reception, helped Atlanta regain the lead with 1:18 left in the first quarter after Harrington's five-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins.

Matt Turk punted for the second time of the game on the Texans' next drive, which stalled after Dayne was stuffed for no gain on third-and-one at the Houston 42.

After Amobi Okoye tackled Harrington on third down for his team-high fourth sack of the season, the Falcons punted to the Houston 25, where Dexter Wynn was tackled for a three-yard loss. The Texans turned the ball over on the second play from scrimmage when fullback Vonta Leach was tackled after a short reception. Linebacker Stephen Nicholas dove on the ball to give the Atlanta offense the ball at the Houston 34.

On third-and-two, Harrington completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Jenkins that stretched the Falcons' lead to 17-7 after Andersen's extra point with 8:22 remaining before halftime.

Davis' 14-yard catch and an eight-yard screen pass to Dayne set up a third-and-one opportunity at the Atlanta 37, but Dayne was stuffed for a one-yard loss. On fourth down, Schaub's play action pass to Leach was stopped a yard shy of the first down marker for the turnover.

After Demarcus Faggins was flagged for pass interference on Harrington's end zone pass to wide receiver Laurent Robinson, the Falcons' offense got a new set of downs on the Texans' one-yard line. Three plays later, after the two-minute warning, Dunta Robinson knocked down Harrington's pass intended for White. Andersen's third field goal gave Atlanta a 20-7 lead.

Schaub got rolling in the two-minute offense, completing five passes for 42 net yards, setting up Brown's 42-yard field goal that cut Houston's deficit to 20-10 with five seconds remaining before halftime.

A pair of 17-yard catches by Daniels on the opening drive of the second half, as well as Davis' 19-yard grab, helped move the Texans deep into Atlanta territory. A third down pass to tight end Jeb Putzier was stopped six yards short of the first down, leading to Brown's 37-yard field goal that made the score 20-13.

On the Falcons' sixth play from scrimmage, White caught a 22-yard pass near the Texans' sideline. Coach Gary Kubiak challenged the ruling on the basis that White didn't have two feet inbounds, but the play stood and Atlanta had a first down at the Houston 30. Fortunately, Atlanta was penalized later for 15 yards for a chop block, pushing back the Falcons to the 31-yard line. Andersen's 36-yard field goal made the score 23-13 with 4:00 left in the third quarter.

Davis' 45-yard catch to the Atlanta 20 less than 10 seconds into the ensuing drive set up another scoring opportunity. When Schaub's pass fell incomplete on third-and-one on the Falcons' one-yard line, Brown entered to kick a 19-yard field goal, which cut the Atlanta lead to 23-16 early in the fourth quarter.

Looking to burn up clock, the Falcons put together a 12-play, 52-yard drive over 6:36. A key third down reception by Warrick Dunn initially was called short of the first down marker, but was overturned after Falcons coach Bobby Petrino challenged the spot-of-ball ruling. Following a short gain on first down, linebacker DeMeco Ryans sacked Harrington for a five-yard loss to the Houston 36. But Andersen managed to boot a 46-yard field goal two plays later to give the Falcons a 26-16 lead with 8:16 remaining in the contest.

Atlanta returned to the field less than 20 seconds later when defensive end John Abraham sacked Schaub for an 11-yard loss, forcing a fumble that defensive end Chauncey Davis recovered at the Houston 19. After a four-play drive that lost five yards, Andersen missed a 42-yard field goal short after Robinson applied pressure from the edge.

Schaub's 35-yard pass to Kevin Walter on third-and-four from the Houston 49 kept the Texans' hopes alive. When fullback Jameel Cook's reception fell a yard short of the first down at Falcons' seven-yard line, Kubiak called a timeout to discuss his fourth down call. Schaub lunged forward on a sneak to extend the series. Two plays later, Schaub took a short dropback and then sprinted through the middle of the defense for a 13-yard touchdown. Petrino challenged the ruling, and the officials overturned their call after concluding Schaub's knee touched down before the ball crossed the goal line.

Following a pitch to Dayne on third-and-one at the Falcons' one-yard line that fell out of bounds at the seven-yard line, Brown's 25-yard field goal attempt missed wide left with 2:10 left in the game.

By the time the Texans' offense returned to the field with 1:02 on the game clock, the team had no timeouts. Schaub completed a nine-yard pass to wide receiver David Anderson and two passes for 13 yards to Cook before the clock expired.

The Texans carry a 2-2 record into their Week 5 showdown with the Miami Dolphins at Reliant Stadium Oct. 7.

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