Schaub, offense have Texans rolling

The Houston Texans are as hot as they've ever been in their short franchise history, and their offense is what has propelled them to a three-game winning streak. See what coach Gary Kubiak and the players had to say about their winning streak and finally going on the road to prove themselves.

For the first time in franchise history, the Texans are getting recognition as one of the best offensive teams in the NFL.

The Texans — 3-4 with a three-game winning streak — rank fourth in yards (371.6), 11th in rushing (118.4) and fifth in passing (253.1).

After starting the season with losses at Pittsburgh and Tennessee, the Texans are averaging 29.2 points over the past five games in which they are 3-2.

Defeating Detroit and Cincinnati, which are a combined 0-15, at Reliant Stadium is one thing, but winning at Minnesota is something else. If the Texans are going to extend their winning streak to four games, expect them to rely heavily on the passing game Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis.

The Vikings (3-4) like to run and stop the run. They ranked first in both statistics last season. They rank eighth in rushing (128.4 yards) this season, and they're second in run defense (70.7).

The Texans have to contain running back Adrian Peterson. If the Vikings contain Steve Slaton, the burden falls on the right arm of Matt Schaub and his receivers, including Andre Johnson.

"This league's funny," coach Gary Kubiak said Monday, the day after the Texans' 35-6 victory over Cincinnati. "You can be struggling doing something, and you keep working, then all of a sudden, you can flip the tables over a three- or four-week period. "We've attacked people the same way. We're being very aggressive. We're throwing the football pretty darn good right now. Matt's leadership and the way he's playing right now has definitely gotten us moving in the right direction."

In his past four starts, Schaub has thrown for 1,233 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

Johnson has been his favorite target. He leads the league with 56 catches for 772 yards and a 110.3 average per game.

"No. 80 is playing as good as I've ever seen a wide receiver play," Kubiak said. "I've been around some good ones — Jerry Rice in San Francisco and Rod Smith in Denver. He wants the ball. He makes plays after the catch. He took a pounding (against the Bengals) and popped right back up.

"Defenses are doing things to try to take him away, but we're really moving him around. He responds to the mental pressure we put on him to get open. He's just doing a great job."

The Texans are third in average time of possession (32:38). They've committed one turnover in the past two games, a fumble by Schaub. They lead the NFL in third-down conversions (47.8), and they're tied with Arizona for the most first downs (22.7).

"We weren't very good on third down the first two weeks," Kubiak said about the losses to the Steelers and Titans. "Then we started playing better. All of a sudden, we're No. 1.

"It's a long season. I don't think you can get too caught up when you're at the bottom or when you're at the top and think you've got it all figured out. You try to stay focused on what you're doing, especially what you're doing poorly."

After defeating Miami, Detroit and Cincinnati, the Texans have to win at Minnesota to convince a lot of their fans they are legitimate.

"I think it says a lot about their character," Kubiak said about his players rebounding from the 0-4 start. "It was very difficult. You go through a stage like that, and it's very easy to go the other way and not be able to dig your way out of it.

"They always kept battling and believing in what they were doing, and they never wavered on what we ask them to do. They've been rewarded for their hard work, and now we've got to go back on the road and play some very good teams."

The Texans play three of their next four on the road, including trips to Indianapolis and Cleveland.

SERIES HISTORY: 2nd regular-season meeting. Vikings lead the series, 1-0. The last time the two teams met was in 2004 with the Vikings winning 34-28 in overtime at Reliant Stadium. WR Andre Johnson had a career-high 12 receptions for a then-high 170 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans fell behind 28-14 in the fourth quarter before scoring 14 unanswered points to pull even at 28. Minnesota won the game on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Daunte Culpepper to WR Marcus Robinson on their second possession of overtime.

NOTES

  • RB Ahman Green did not practice. He remains day-to-day this week. IF he can't play, Ryan Moats will back up Steve Slaton.

  • WR Kevin Walter (knee) did not practice. He is day-to-day, but it's likely he will be able to play on Sunday. The coaches are trying to rest him so he will be ready.

  • TE Joel Dreessen (jaw) participated in practice and is expected to be just fine this Sunday.

  • WR Andre' Davis (finger) did not practice and will miss another game. He will likely miss a total of three games.

  • S Dominique Barber (hamstring) is still being limited in practice. He won't likely be active for another week at least.

  • Running back Ahman Green missed practice Wednesday, and his status for Sunday's game in Minnesota is still uncertain. He said his leg is feeling better daily.

    "It was a cramp I caught when I was running and it irritated the groin a little bit," Green said. "And then my hamstring got a little sore too."

    Green said it's different from the injury that caused him to miss time during the preseason, saying that it's not as serious as the groin strain he suffered then.

    If he's going to play Sunday, Green hopes to practice today or tomorrow.

    "That's how I usually work," he said. "I like to get at least one day if not two, so I know if I got a burst out or do certain things the plays call upon me to do."

    If Green cannot play, Ryan Moats will replace Green as Steve Slaton's backup and Cecil Sapp will be the No. 3 back available.

  • Texans punt returner Jacoby Jones was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks. He and Reggie Bush are the only two players in the league who have returned two punts for touchdowns this season.

    Wide receiver Andre Johnson was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month.

    "I expected it," coach Gary Kubiak said. "That was a heck of a month. I haven't seen many guys do what he's over the course of the past four weeks. He's something else."

    The Texans will shake up their secondary once again. Nick Ferguson and Eugene Wilson will be the top safeties used, while Will Demps and Brandon Harrison will play primarily on special teams. Both players have shown they are capable of making big plays. While Wilson has played in just three games this season, he already has two interceptions.

    Offensively, the Texans will continue to rotate Ephraim Salaam in at left tackle for every third offensive series to help give Duane Brown some rest. David Anderson will continue to play in the slot with the absence of Andre' Davis (finger). And if Ahman Green cannot play because of injuries, the Texans will have Ryan Moats line up as Steve Slaton's backup. Cecil Sapp is even capable of lining up as the halfback as well.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 4 — Games that Andre Johnson has had at least 130 receiving yards. He is only the third player in NFL history to accomplish that feat in one season.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think it says a lot about their character. It was very difficult. You go through a stage like that it's very easy to go the other way and not be able to dig you're way out of it. But, as I told you guys, the kids always kept working. They always kept battling and believing in what they were doing and never wavered on what we're asking them to do or how we're asking them to do it. They've been fortunate now. They've been rewarded for hard work. It was nice to be home, but now we've got to get back out there on the road and play some very good football teams. This is a tough league, and you've got to understand that from week to week, day to day and just go out there and do your best, and like I said, have belief in the direction you're heading. Some good things have happened the past few weeks. So, hopefully we'll just keep going one day at a time." — Coach Gary Kubiak, on the team going from 0-4 to 3-4.



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