*Visit HoustonTexans.com Monday at 3:30 p.m. CT to watch the live streaming video of coach Gary Kubiak's weekly press conference.
ST. LOUIS –Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson led the way yet again as the Texans kept their playoff hopes alive with a road victory over the St. Louis Rams.
It wasn't pretty, but the victory counts just the same. The Texans are now 7-7 and very much alive in the AFC Wild Card race with two games remaining after their 16-13 victory dropped the Rams to 1-13 on the season.
Schaub threw for 367 yards, Johnson had nine catches for 196 yards and the Texans outgained the Rams 419 yards to 237. But the Texans scored only 16 points in four trips to the red zone, and a series of mistakes – a missed field goal, a dropped touchdown pass, four penalties for 30 yards and a fumble in the red zone – kept the game close until the end.
No matter. The Texans, who have lost six games this season by eight points or less, will take a three-point victory any day of the week.
"I like the fact that as much as we tried to hurt ourselves today that we had enough about us to stand up and win the game at the end," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's a characteristic in this league that you need to have."
Rams running back Steven Jackson, who entered the game as the league's second-leading rusher, accounted for nearly half of the Rams' offensive production with 82 rushing yards and 41 receiving yards. But the Texans limited rookie quarterback Keith Null to 173 passing yards and a touchdown, sacking him three times and picking off a pass in the red zone.
A 28-yard field goal by kicker Kris Brown with 4:36 left in the game provided the winning margin. Schaub and Johnson connected for consecutive passes of 30 and 44 yards to set up the game-deciding kick.
The Texans started the game with an eight-play, 60-yard drive, but a fumble by rookie running back Arian Foster at the St. Louis 19-yard line brought an abrupt end to the series. That would be Foster's last offensive play of the game.
The Rams' ensuing possession ended after Null fumbled the snap at the Houston 43 and Texans defensive end Mario Williams recovered. Six plays and 47 yards later, Brown sent a 27-yard field goal through the uprights for a 3-0 Texans lead.
The Rams and Texans exchanged short field goals to give the Texans a 6-3 lead late in the second quarter. Rams receiver Danny Amendola caught a two-yard touchdown pass with 1:47 left in the first half, capping a drive that included two offsides penalties on the Texans. Brown missed a 52-yard field goal that bounced off the right upright at the end of the the second quarter to give the Rams a 10-6 lead at halftime.
Players attributed their sloppy start in part to the eerily quiet atmosphere at the slumping Rams' home field. The announced crowd of 46,256 left room for plenty of empty seats in the 66,000-seat Edward Jones Dome.
"It was so dead out there you had no inspiration to get you fired up," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "I ain't never played a game like that before in my career. I don't think a lot of us have, and I think it caught us by surprise the way they came out. They came out lethargic... and then before you realize it, it's a game and you've go tto turn it up."
On the Texans' first drive of the third quarter, Schaub lost a fumble on a quarterback sneak at the Houston 39-yard line. Three plays later, Texans safety Dominique Barber intercepted Null at the 15-yard line. Null was being pressured by Smith on the play.
After the interception, the Texans drove 83 yards in 10 plays to take a 13-10 lead on a three-yard touchdown pass from Schaub to Kevin Walter. Schaub was 7-of-8 for 81 yards on the scoring drive, which included three catches for 40 yards by tight end Joel Dreessen.
The Rams tied the score at 13 on the next possession with a 52-yard field goal by Josh Brown with 1:50 left in the third quarter. St. Louis threatened to take the lead early in the fourth quarter with a drive that got into Texans' territory. But rookie defensive end Connor Barwin thwarted the scoring drive by sacking Null for an 11-yard loss on third-and-12 from the Houston 46.
After a punt, the Texans drove 81 yards in seven plays to score the go-ahead field goal. Houston's defense, keyed by a second-down sack by Smith, followed that up by forcing the Rams to punt the ball with 2:49 left in the game.
Just before the two-minute warning, Texans running back Ryan Moats for a first down on third-and-one to seal the victory. With the Rams out of timeouts, the Texans kneeled out the clock to end the game.
Notes:Texans left tackle Duane Brown suffered a left knee injury and was replaced by Rashad Butler in the second half...Jackson was among eight Rams players listed on the injury report with illness on Friday, a day after the team cancelled practice because of the swine flu, but played the entire game…the Texans inactives' were safety Nick Ferguson, running back Chris Henry, cornerbacks Fred Bennett and Mark Parson, guard Tutan Reyes, defensive end Tim Jamison and defensive tackle Frank Okam. Dan Orlovsky is the Texans' third quarterback...the Texans wore white jerseys and blue pants, while the Rams wore throwback uniforms with blue jerseys and bright yellow pants.