Texans 16, Rams 13
Big games from Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub helped the Houston Texans score just enough points.
Schaub had his eighth 300-yard passing game, one shy of Peyton Manning's league-leading total, and Johnson consistently eluded a defense geared to stop him with a season best 196 yards receiving. But the Texans ended up leaning on field goals to hold off the lowly St. Louis Rams 16-13 on Sunday.
``Obviously, there weren't many style points for us,'' Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. ``Matt and Andre were exceptional and you've got to feel good about winning.
``We've got more corrections to make, but a win's a win.''
The Rams (1-13) lost their 12th in a row at home and for the 23rd time in 24 games overall only three days after canceling practice after a confirmed case of swine flu. St. Louis got all of its players back and enjoyed a rare competitive game before losing for the second time this season while wearing throwback jerseys honoring the 1999 Super Bowl championship team.
``Everyone here kind of has a sour taste in their mouth,'' rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis said. ``You hate losing, hate losing ... whether it's by three or 30-something.''
The Rams fell far short of a sellout for the second straight game with paid attendance of 46,256, the franchise's worst since moving to the Midwest in 1995. Johnson thought the atmosphere hurt both teams.
``It was kind of dead,'' Johnson said. ``Normally when you play road games, the other team's fans are energetic. Their fans really weren't.''
Schaub was 28 for 40 for 367 yards and a touchdown, topping 4,000 yards a week after setting a franchise record for yards passing in a season, and Johnson hurt the Rams' secondary with four of his nine receptions going for at least 30 yards. The Texans made it difficult to blanket Johnson by moving him around and occasionally starting him in the backfield.
``He can do it all,'' Rams cornerback Ron Bartell said. ``He's got the size, speed, run after the catch, blocking, everything. There's nobody in this league that compares to him.''
The Texans struggled on the run though, with only 52 yards on 24 carries, and consistently bogged down deep in St. Louis territory.
Johnson had receptions of 30 and 44 yards on consecutive plays to put the Texans at the St. Louis 12 on the go-ahead drive. Houston settled for a 28-yard field goal by Kris Brown, his third of the game, with 4:36 to go.
The Texans (7-7) won their second straight after dropping four in a row by a total of 19 points, and remained alive for a wild-card berth. Johnson has six 100-yard receiving games but Houston's lone touchdown came on a 3-yard catch by Kevin Walter for a 13-10 lead in the third quarter.
Steven Jackson had 82 yards on 20 carries, becoming the Rams' career leader in rushing attempts, despite playing a fourth game with a lower back injury. He missed a few plays after a skirmish with Bernard Pollard left him with a bloody lip in the fourth quarter.
``Just a little physical football,'' Jackson said. ``From the looks of it, I got the worst of it. I wasn't going to get scooped and slammed on national television, I'll tell you that.''
The Rams led at halftime for only the fourth time all season on Keith Null's 2-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola that made it 10-6, and the teams were tied at 13 after three quarters after Josh Brown's 52-yard field goal.
Amendola scored his first career TD on Null's second career touchdown pass.
Joel Dreesen dropped a sure touchdown catch before Houston settled for a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter. Brown had plenty of leg on a 52-yard attempt to end the half that banged off the right upright.
NOTES: The Rams honored Hall of Fame DT Merlin Olsen at halftime, adding his name to their ``ring of honor.'' Olsen has lung cancer and was unable to attend. ... Rams CB Quincy Butler (left knee) and TE Daniel Fells (right knee) were injured in the first half. ... Texans OT Duane Brown (left knee) was hurt in the third quarter and LB Brian Cushing had bruised ribs. ... A moment of silence was observed before the national anthem for Chris Henry, the Bengals WR who died on Thursday. ... Previously, the Rams led the Lions 10-2, the Redskins 7-6 and Jaguars 10-6 at halftime. ... St. Louis is the only team without a TD in the third quarter.