The Houston Texans put up a great fight Sunday for the 31-24 win over the Oakland Raiders at the Oakland Collesium. Even though benching the leading NFL rusher and AFC Player of the Month until the six-minute marker of the second quarter, the Texans were led by Foster’s run game and a renewed defensive energy.
The defense stepped up with big Bernard Pollard hits, smart Troy Nolan interceptions, and the strong field presence of DeMeco Ryans. Overall, the Texans played their hearts out and stuck with it without three of their best players in Andre Johnson, Brian Cushing and Duane Brown.
The Houston Texans played an enormous game coming off such a porous loss against the Dallas Cowboys. Once again the Texans’ run game showed strong and the Texans pass game proved effective. Quarterback Matt Schaub played smart throwing 16-29 for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Derrick Ward and Steve Slaton also played their part.
Ward, who only had one carry going into today’s game, had 12 rushes for 80 yards and a touchdown (33-yard in the first quarter). Slaton had 45 total yards and kept the defense on their heels when in the game. However, it was Foster’s play that set the Texans apart. The second half included Foster’s 74-yard run and a 10-yard catch for touchdowns. He hit the blocks and kept his feet moving. If you’re missing these games, you need to start watching for Foster. On the downside, Jacoby Jones left the game with an undisclosed injury.
The Oakland Raiders’ early run game looked too good to not put seven in the box, and the Texans began to heavily defend the run until McFadden went out with a hamstring injury. Beforehand Michael Bush, finally healthy after returning from a broken thumb injury suffered in the preseason, scored a two yard touchdown on the Texans to tie the game at 7’s.
Gradkowski hustled for yards, getting whalloped by Texans safety playmaker Bernard Pollard, the last taking Gradkowski momentarily out of the game. Mario Williams also had a good game on Gradkowski, registering a sack and forced fumble. However, Oakland’s quarterback was able to spread around the ball for 278 yards and two touchdowns.
Most of that yardage went to the fourth year tight end out of Arizona State, Zach Miller, who put up 122 yards on 11 receptions and a touchdown. However, Louis Murhpy couldn’t get it going in the first half and by the second half was trying too much for his injured elbow.
His last reception attempt of the game was when the Raiders were driving to tie the game at the end of the fourth quarter. The Gradkowski pass hit off the hands and arms of Murhphy who knocked the ball into a Texan and for the Troy Nolan one-handed pick and Texans win.
The Texans, now 3-1, were able to pull off the win over the now 1-3 Raiders with effective play calling and a confident defense. Although the Raiders started this game as the league’s number 4 defense against the run, the Texans were able to sit Foster for a quarter and a half and then come back with huge runs to set the Texans offense on track for the win.
Foster has really proved he’s a playmaker for the Texans and it will be interesting to see why he was sat for the first quarter against such a strong rushing team. But the benching also led to seeing how well Derrick Ward can run in this system.
Also, Steve Slaton, besides fumbling a kick return upon reception, played well in the game. And with that run game came great playaction plays by Matt Schaub who only needed 192 yards and two touchdowns to take the Texans to win number 3.