HOUSTON (AP) – Houston’s running game finally gained 100 yards and the defense is no longer ranked last in the league. The Texans got their first AFC South win in almost two years and Andre Johnson leads the league in receiving yards.
After many disheartening months, the Texans have a bundle of reasons to be happy.
“Football is a tough game when you’re losing games, but it’s the best game in the world when you’re winning,” David Carr said.
It’s a sentiment Carr hasn’t experienced much since the expansion Texans took him with the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft. Houston has won just 20 of its 70 games with Sunday’s 27-7 victory over the banged-up Jaguars.
The Texans are 2-4 as they prepare to meet one-win Tennessee and hometown hero Vince Young next.
Carr has the second-best passer rating (97.9) in the AFC behind Peyton Manning and is beginning to develop into the leader the Texans always hoped he would be.
He said coach Gary Kubiak’s new offense and coaching have been the key to his improvement.
“The offensive scheme is something I don’t have to force,” he said. “In the last couple of years, we would get into that third quarter and I would try to make something happen that probably isn’t there and I would turn the ball over or do something stupid with it.”
“Now, I have faith and belief in the system that if it’s not there in the first couple of plays, we’ll come back out the next series and find something schematically. It’s a much better feeling.”
Carr was also aided by Houston’s first effective rushing game of the season. The Texans entered the game averaging an NFL-worst 68 yards rushing a game, but piled up 131 yards against the Jaguars. That effort was led by rookie Wali Lundy who had 93 yards and a touchdown after not playing in the last three games.
It’s an outing that likely solidified Lundy’s status as a starter after Kubiak had tried both Samkon Gado and Ron Dayne after Lundy sputtered in the first two games.
Johnson recorded his fourth 100-yard game of the season on Sunday and has 591 yards receiving this season. With one more 100-yard game he’ll surpass the 688 yards he had in last year’s injury plagued season.
Houston’s oft-struggling defense got two turnovers and allowed just 220 yards in the win. It was the fewest points the Texans had allowed since their last AFC South win, a 21-0 victory also over the Jaguars in December 2004.
Rookies Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans are beginning to develop into consistent players on Houston’s young defense. Williams, the top draft pick, recovered a fumble and Ryans led the team with six tackles.
Ryans said he and Williams are up to the challenge of improving a defense that remains ranked second-to-last in the NFL.
“That’s why they brought us in and that’s why they invested in both of us, to come in and make plays and turn this defense around,” he said. “They’re looking for us to make plays.”