Houston Texans heating up
Two good wins, tougher defense and the Houston Texans are 4-3. They are still looking uphill at the undefeated Colts in their division. But with a trip to lowly Buffalo this week, the chance of winning three straight for just the second time in franchise history seems possible. The Texans beat Cincinnati last week before jumping out to an early lead and holding on for a 24-21 win over the 49ers on Sunday. The biggest reason for Houston's recent success has been the stunning turnaround of the run defense. The Texans are allowing 48.5 yards rushing a game in the last four after averaging an NFL-worst 205 yards in the first three. The rushing totals of Houston's last four opponents each rank among the 10 lowest in franchise history. "It's been very good for the past month," coach Gary Kubiak said. "I think that's going with the success of our team here in the past few weeks because our defense has stepped it up and played so well. We had a lot of ground to make up and hopefully we can keep going." Houston's defense played its most dominant half on Sunday against the 49ers, allowing 1 yard in the first quarter and a first-half, franchise-low 50 yards by halftime. Despite that start, the Texans were disappointed they gave up three touchdowns after Shaun Hill was benched for Alex Smith at halftime. "We're good, but we still strive to be great," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "We've got to get consistent and play the entire game. We do have the potential to be great. We have the right guys and the right goals." Another key to Houston's improvement is the steady progress of quarterback Matt Schaub and Houston's third-ranked passing game. Schaub has set a franchise record by throwing a career-high 16 touchdown passes this season. He had two touchdown throws on Sunday in his first game without an interception since Week 2. "He was exceptional the way he ran the team," Kubiak said, adding that Schaub avoided five sacks. "He made great decisions all day. He doesn't turn the ball over. That's the difference in us winning and losing. So even though he throws for (264) when he's had some big, big games this year, I thought it was as good as he had played and managed our football team all year long." Important to his success has been the solid play of Owen Daniels. Daniels had 123 yards receiving on Sunday and leads all tight ends with 497 yards receiving and has caught a team-best five touchdown passes. He's proven to be a great target when teams double team Andre Johnson. Schaub said the work he and Daniels put in this offseason and in training camp is starting to pay off. "We developed that feel for one another when we were working in the field of linebackers and safeties," Schaub said. "He's finding the holes in the defense and I've been trying to get him the ball so we can make plays, and he's been doing an excellent job." Daniels' role could be even bigger this week as Johnson deals with a bruised lung. He is listed as day to day this week as he recovers from the injury.