It was a rare sight in a season in which the Texans allowed opponents to roam freely within 20 yards of the goal line. But that ended Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals when the Texans prevented touchdowns in the Bengals' lone two trips in the red zone en route to a 35-6 victory at Reliant Stadium.
And now, the Texans will take their first-ever three-game winning streak into Minnesota, where the Texans hope to finally reach .500. The only way they will do it is if the defense can carry some of the momentum they gained by putting together their best performance of the season against the Bengals.
"We put a lot of emphasis on red-zone defense in practice, and we've had a lot of opportunities all season to make plays in the red zone and this is the first day we did it," said Dunta Robinson, who set the franchise record with his 12th career interception.
The Texans had given up 15 touchdowns on 16 previous trips into the red zone this season. The lone time they made a red-zone "stop" was when the Jacksonville Jaguars elected to kick a field goal on a second down in their overtime win in September.
No other NFL defense had played so poorly in the red zone this year. But the Texans defense is now finally able to start putting those struggles behind them.
With an improved defense and an offense that continues moving up the charts and is currently ranked fourth overall in the NFL, the Texans are optimistic about what's ahead.
"It's awesome," tackle Ephraim Salaam said. "The fact that the team is coming together finally: special teams, offense and defense. I think it says a lot about our character, we started off really rough and it takes strong men to battle up through what we went through to come out on top."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've never had any real streaks before, so we're establishing that now. And I think it does build, and I think the players play with more confidence, and I think we just have to take it one at a time, but I think (getting three wins in a row) is extremely important to us." — Texans owner Bob McNair.
LINEUP WATCH: Nick Ferguson and Eugene Wilson both started at safety for the Texans, moving ahead of Brandon Harrison and Will Demps. The two veterans will likely remain after helping the defense to its best game of the year. Ferguson was third on the team in tackles with seven and Wilson finished fifth with five. Wilson also picked off his second pass of the season.