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Texans-Saints postgame notebook


NEW ORLEANS - The Texans fought their way to a 31-27 win over the New Orleans Saints in a road game that had a regular-season feel to it. Cornerback Fred Bennettt had some choice words for running back Reggie Bush. Wideout Kevin Walter made a slew of tough grabs, finishing with 100 receiving yards. And quarterback Matt Schaub recorded 187 passing yards in the first half.

Quarterbacks deliver: The Texans' passing game was virtually unstoppable in the first half, thanks to the arm of Matt Schaub. The quarterback's numbers said it all. He finished 14-of-16, threw for two touchdowns and recorded a quarterback rating of 154.9. Most importantly, he converted on third downs (4-of-5) and found a way to score in the red zone.

"Guys were getting open and making the plays," Schaub said. "It was just one of those nights where everything clicked."

To read more about Schaub's performance, click **here**.

There wasn't much drop-off when Sage Rosenfels took over for Schaub at the end of the first half. Rosenfels' opening drive in the third quarter resulted in a one-yard touchdown run from running back Chris Taylor. Together, Rosenfels and Schaub produced five scoring drives and combined to go 20-of-24 for 289 yards.

{QUOTE}Rookie Alex Brink got his chance in the fourth quarter and completed an eight-yard pass to Mark Simmons to convert on a third down.

"They were exceptional, all three of them," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "I was just looking at these numbers and I think they were 21 of 25 - played extremely well. Even the young kid handled himself good at the end of the game, picked up a good third down."

Slaton fuels run game: It was hard for Kubiak to take running back Steve Slaton off the field Saturday. The rookie carried the ball 13 times for 57 yards and scored the winning touchdown on a 10-yard run. He also returned a kickoff for 18 yards and put up a block that allowed Rosenfels to connect with receiver David Anderson on a 43-yard pass.

"I'm getting a lot more confident each game," Slaton said. "It's getting a little bit easier, and with practice I'm understanding a lot more."

Kubiak said he he thinks Slaton has the ability to be a playmaker for the team. In fact, the coach was so impressed with the rookie that he kept Slaton in for the entire fourth quarter and held out second-year pro Darius Walker.

"When he's out there, you can feel his speed and the chance to make big plays and the kickoff return," Kubiak. "He's growing in what we are doing run-game wise. He makes some bad cuts, but then he makes some great cuts. It's obvious that this kid's going to be a big part of it, if he keeps heading the way he's heading."

The rest of the ball carriers on the team struggled to find their rhythm in the zone scheme. Chris Brown started for the team in place of Ahman Green and finished with eight carries for 19 yards. Brown's night would have looked a lot better if a 15-yard carry in the first quarter had not been called back because of a holding call on tight end Joel Dreessen.

"The thing we're doing – I like the way we are staying committed to it," Kubiak said. "We just keep pushing, keep pounding. And Chris (Brown), that was his first time out really in the scheme that we are doing."

Chris Taylor did make some good one-cuts moves in the first half, but had to leave the field early because of cramps. Taylor finished with 12 carries for 34 yards.

Jones keeps on fumbling: Second-year receiver Jacoby Jones fumbled on a punt return for the second consecutive game. A week after fumbling a punt against Denver, Jones lost the ball on the first punt of the game in New Orleans. Linebacker Troy Evans, a former Texan, recovered the ball on the Texans' 10-yard-line, setting up a Saints 25-yard field goal.

"It probably is mental," Jones said. "More of it is mental. I don't think it's physical."

Jones got a second chance in the second quarter and returned the punt 19 yards. But in the fourth quarter, Brink was running a reverse play and handed off the ball too high for Jones, causing it to bounce off the receiver's pads. Jones was able to recover the ball and Brink was charged with the fumble, but the play disn't help Jones' cause.

"It's a problem right now," Kubiak said. "We are trying to push the kid (Jones) through it. We tried to get him another ball there to end the game on a reverse - from a confidence standpoint, try to get him a chance to make a play. But he's struggling right now. He's got a lot of ability. He can help us win, but we've got to get the issues fixed. I don't think it's a lack of effort on anybody's part. We've got to regain this kid's confidence somehow, and we'll keep working through that."

Defensive inconsistencies abound: The Texans' defense was anything but steady against the Saints. In the first quarter, they were stout, holding New Orleans to 0-of-2 in the red zone.

Things got a little bumpy after that. Cornerback Jacques Reeves struggled to defend running back Reggie Bush in the second quarter. Bush pulled out a move reminiscent of his college days at USC when he jumped over Reeves to reach the end zone on a 12-yard touchdown reception. Reeves also got beat on several deep passes.

"He was in great position on the plays; he just didn't find the ball," Kubiak said of Reeves. "It's just a matter of when you are sitting there running with the guy and the quarterback makes an absolutely perfect throw, it's just having that confidence to get your head around and make that play on the ball."

The defense also struggled to find its pass rush early on, as defensive end Tim Bulman notched the only sack for the team.

"I hate to harp on it too much right now, but it's obvious that we aren't getting there enough," Kubiak said. "If the only way we can get there is to pressure, then you are putting your corners on an island. So it's a continuous battle, and we'll continue to work on it."

The good news for the Texans was that they found a way to win against one of the deepest teams in the NFC this year, and they have a chance to go back to work before facing Dallas on Friday.

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