Schaub winning over fans with wins

Texans quarterback Matt Schaub glossed over a bad start by putting together a three-game home winning streak. However, he hasn't been quite as fortunate on the road, as Houston prepares to travel to Minneapolis to face the Vikings.

Texans receiver Andre Johnson wasn't surprised. He simply waited for everyone else to see what he already knew was coming.

As the fans booed Matt Schaub in Reliant Stadium just three weeks ago, Johnson waited for Schaub's response. It wasn't verbal. Instead, Schaub responded by putting together the best three-week stretch of his career, helping lift the Texans from 0-4 to 3-4.

In turn, that hostile home crowd became one of the Texans' assets. But the Texans' month-long homestand has ended and Schaub must leave the confines of Reliant Stadium for the road, where he has not fared well over the past two seasons.

Schaub has just one victory in nine starts for the Texans on the road and an 80.9 quarterback rating in those games. In the past two seasons, he has a 99.4 quarterback rating in his eight home starts.

"You can't blame all the road on him," coach Gary Kubiak said. "We all haven't been very good on the road, so we're all going to have to play better to improve Matt's record."

Schaub's lone road win came Sept. 16 of last year when the Texans defeated the Carolina Panthers, 34-21. It was during that game that leading receiver Andre Johnson injured his knee and missed the next seven weeks of the season.

By the time Johnson returned, injuries started slowing Schaub. Of last year's six road starts, Schaub only finished three of them.

With three of the team's next four games on the road, the Texans hope last year's issues are behind them.

Critical to their success is keeping Johnson and Schaub on the field. Last year, their two stars started only five games together. In one of those games, Johnson left early with an injury and in another Schaub left early with an injury.

The two have already started and finished six games together this season. Such continuity has helped the offense.

"This is the first time (Schaub) has gotten a chance to get into a rhythm," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "Hopefully he can keep it going and play the way we think he's capable of playing."

Johnson, who missed most of the offseason because of knee surgery, is now in a rhythm and leading all receivers in the NFL in catches and yards. No other quarterback has a higher passer rating in the past five weeks than Schaub (113.6).

That's part of what gives Johnson such confidence that this is a different team than the Texans fielded even just a month ago when they lost their first three road games of the season.

"I think we're playing at a different level," Johnson said. "I think this is some of the best football we've played around here. This is a different week, a different team, a different game."

A victory over the Vikings would give them their first road win of the season — and their first victory over a team not currently in last place in their respective division.

The Texans are one of only five teams (Cincinnati, Detroit, Kansas City, New Orleans and Houston) left in the league without at least one victory on the road this season.

"If we take care of business at home and then can go on the road and get a few, especially against a good team in a tough environment like the Vikings, that will just put a stamp on what we've been able to do this past month after our slow start with our first four games," Schaub said. "It would just cap off a good second quarter of the season."

NOTES

  • RB Ahman Green (hamstring/groin) was very limited in practice Thursday. Unless he practices more Friday, it's unlikely he will be active.

  • RB Ryan Moats has taken a lot of repetitions as the backup running back in practice this week. He will back up Steve Slaton if Ahman Green can't play.

  • CB Dunta Robinson has practiced more this week than last. He is slated to play at least 40 plays on defense this week.

  • LB DeMeco Ryans is still playing a critical role on defense even those his numbers aren't quite as big as they've been in the past. The coaches say it is because Ryans has more help this year and no longer has to shoulder as much of the load.

  • WR Andre Johnson was AFC Offensive Player of the Month. He could become the first player in NFL history to have five consecutive games with at least 130 receiving yards.


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