The Houston Texans had their high-powered offense shut down in
their first loss of the season. They’re not expecting to have an
easier time against the surprising third-ranked defense of the
The Texans and Raiders meet for the fifth consecutive season
Sunday after losses last weekend to NFC opponents.
Houston (2-1) fell 27-13 at home to Dallas after entering Week 3
with league highs of 64 points and 881 yards of total offense. The
Texans were held to 241 yards through the first 56 minutes while
falling into a 21-point deficit, and they failed to reach the end
zone until 1:15 remained in the game.
While Houston was thoroughly outplayed, Oakland (1-2) fell 24-23
at Arizona last Sunday despite outgaining the Cardinals 364-227.
Sebastian Janikowski missed three field goals, including a 32-yard
attempt as time expired.
The Texans have won three of the last four meetings with the
Raiders, including a 29-6 home victory last year. Houston believes
this Oakland team might be the best it has faced in quite some
time, with the Raiders allowing 260.7 yards per game to rank third
in the NFL after finishing 27th last year.
“This team poses matchup problems for us,” coach Gary Kubiak
said. “I think they’re third in defense in the league right now.
They’ve got a great corner (Nnamdi Asomugha), so obviously they can
cause us problems.”
Asomugha has fared well in his last three games against Texans
star Andre Johnson, helping limit the Pro Bowler to a total of five
catches for 94 yards and no touchdowns. Johnson could be limited
Sunday since he’s bothered by an ankle injury suffered two weeks
ago in a win at Washington, though he managed four receptions for
64 yards against Dallas.
Last Sunday, Asomugha was outstanding in helping hold Pro Bowl
receiver Larry Fitzgerald to two catches for 26 yards, although one
went for a touchdown.
“I think he looked forward to it, prepared himself and I think
the outcome showed that,” coach Tom Cable said. “As we get ready to
go with Houston now and Andre Johnson coming in here, then we’ll
talk about that. But you’ve got to take your hat off to him.”
The Texans may be better off handing the ball to NFL leading
rusher Arian Foster, who gained 106 yards against the Cowboys to
increase his total to 406. The Raiders rank only 24th against the
rush, compared to second against the pass.
Houston will have to do a better job of protecting Matt Schaub,
who was sacked four times last Sunday and has been dropped an
AFC-high 11 times.
Rashad Butler made his first start Sunday in place of left
tackle Duane Brown, who began serving his four-game suspension for
violating the NFL’s banned substance policy. Right tackle Eric
Winston said the entire offensive line bears the blame for the
pressure on Schaub.
“I’ve heard that it was this guy or that guy,” Winston said. “I
don’t buy that stuff. We take it upon ourselves up front, that
we’re going to be the guys that protect. If he needs to hold it for
five or seven or 10 seconds, then that’s what he needs to do, and
we need to get them blocked.”
On the other side of the ball, Oakland is hoping to be more
opportunistic. The Raiders are tied for the most trips inside the
opponent’s 20-yard line with 13 but have come away with only three
touchdowns for the third-worst percentage in the NFL.
“We left so many plays out there on the field offensively,”
Cable said. “The players, coaches, we would all tell you the same
thing: 1 for 5 in the red zone is not good enough. It’s totally
Bruce Gradkowski will try to take advantage of Houston’s
league-worst pass defense, which allows 368.7 yards per game and
has no interceptions. Gradkowski made his first start last week
over an ineffective Jason Campbell, completing 17 of 34 passes for
255 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Cable also said he’s not worried about Janikowski, who has
missed five field goals in three games. Janikowski’s three misses
from inside 50 yards are as many as he totaled over the previous
“I told him I love him and I’d go to him again in the same
situation and he’d probably have to win two or three games just
like that for us this year and he’ll probably do it,” Cable