Houston Prepares For 1st Thanksgiving Game
KRISTIE RIEKEN,AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans won’t have long to lament the mistakes they made against the Jacksonville Jaguars before rallying for a wild 43-37 overtime win.
They’ve got a quick turnaround before playing their first Thanksgiving game against Detroit where they’ll look to improve on their franchise-best 9-1 start.
Coach Gary Kubiak said playing four days after an overtime game, “is tough, but I think that’s what builds the character of your team.”
He said they’ll have very light workouts this week and most of their preparations for the Lions will be mental instead of physical.
The good news for his team is that it won’t play again until Dec. 2 after this one.
“As hard as it is, you get a chance to give the guys a break after the game,” he said. “You’ve got a big period between that and your next game, so I think that gets them excited.”
Now the Texans face the NFC’s top offense as they begin a three-game road swing that could be critical to their playoff positioning. They’ll play AFC South foe Tennessee before a Monday night matchup at New England.
Houston receiver Andre Johnson, who has been with the team since its second season, is thrilled to be doing so well after years of struggling. But he isn’t surprised by the success this season.
“It just feels like it’s supposed to happen. This is where we are supposed to be,” he said of being tied for the NFL’s best record. “It feels normal. I think if we had a worse record, guys would be upset and probably going crazy around here. But we knew what type of team we had coming into the season and we knew what we had to do to get to where we want to go. So far we’ve been doing it.”
Houston’s normally dominant defense struggled Sunday. The Texans made up for it on offense. Their 640 yards were a franchise record, and Matt Schaub and Johnson both had career days.
Schaub threw for 527 yards and career-high five scores as the Texans rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Schaub’s yards tied for second most in NFL history. Johnson’s 273 yards receiving on 14 receptions — both career highs — were the most in the NFL since 2000.
Johnson, who scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime, enjoyed the game, but noted that it isn’t how they prefer to play offensively.
“It was fun as an offense, but we try to run the ball, that’s our main thing,” he said. “When we run the ball well we have a lot of control of the game, so it hasn’t changed. It was just situations in that game where we had to throw the ball more to win.”
Kubiak has been pleased with the work of Arian Foster, who is fourth in the NFL with 949 yards rushing, but leads the league with 249 carries.
Houston has had to rely more heavily on him in the past three games with backup Ben Tate out with a hamstring injury. Tate has made significant progress in the past few days, and Kubiak said there’s a “good chance” he could play Thursday.
The Texans gave up a season-high 458 yards on Sunday and cornerback Kareem Jackson said a lot of the problems came down to poor tackling.
“We obviously didn’t play up to our standard,” Kubiak said. “We gave up big plays. We had a few assignment issues, which is unusual for us. That’s something we’ve got to fix.”
Despite the problems, Kubiak believes the unit can gain confidence from the fact that it stopped the Jaguars late.
“When it was crunch time we found a way to make some plays to give the ball back to the offense and find a way to win,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to (have) those problems and still win.”
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