The Houston Texans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-17 in their first appearance in the nationally televised Monday night game since the franchise began in 2002. Running back Steve Slaton lobbied the head coach Gary Kubiak for more chances to run the ball during half-time and delivered with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help the Texans move to 5-7 and third place in the AFC South.
Jacksonville, tipped for the Super Bowl by many at the start of the season, threatened several times but were only able to score two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter against a tired Texan defence. "I didn't run the ball enough in the first half to be honest with you," Kubiak said. "We got a little out of whack play call-wise, and the kid came up to me at half-time- here's a rookie - grabs me by the shirt to say, 'I'm OK, give me the ball'."
The teams traded touchdowns in the last four minutes of the game with each of Slaton's scores followed by Jacksonville scoring drives. Mario Williams, who sacked Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard three times, said he would have preferred it if Slaton had not got into the end zone again so quickly after his first touchdown, so the defence could have had more time to rest. "I wish he wouldn't have run that one in so fast," joked the defensive end, one of whose sacks forced a fumble to set up a Slaton touchdown.
Houston were always in front in the game after backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels threw a 31-yard pass to Andre Johnson early in the first quarter. Starting quarterback Matt Schaub watched from the sidelines, suited up for the first time since he tore a ligament in his left knee on Nov 2 against Minnesota. The Jaguars fall to 4-8 and last place in the AFC South. "Of course, expectations are to be successful, win the division and make the play-offs," Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor said.
"Right now because it's not that, it's tough ... We definitely didn't imagine it being this way." Rosenfels, making his fourth consecutive start in place of Schaub, threw for 200 yards and a score with an interception for the Texans while Andre Johnson added a touchdown reception and Kris Brown kicked three field goals. The Jaguars' only touchdowns came in the last three minutes with the game out of reach.
Fred Taylor went in from the four to cut the deficit to 23-10 and Reggie Williams scored on an 18-yard reception with 45 seconds left. The Texans next face the Green Bay Packers, who also have a 5-7 record. Jacksonville will play the Chicago Bears (6-6) on Sunday. * Reuters