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Defensive end Mario Williams returned to Houston a much richer man on Sunday after signing a six-year, $100 million contract during the offseason with the Buffalo Bills.
The Houston Texans, off to their best start in franchise history, showed their #1 overall pick of the 2006 draft first hand that they’re doing fine without him.
Matt Schaub threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns, Arian Foster racked up 111 yards on the ground, Andre Johnson totaled 118 yards on eight receptions, and the Texans (7-1) notched another one in the win column with a 21-9 victory over Williams and the Bills (3-5).
“We’re happy to be 7-1 at the halfway mark,” said Schaub. “But we’re not finished. We’ve got to go into a tough environment against a very good team next Sunday night.”
The Texans never made Williams any type of offer once he hit the free agent market, but their defense hasn’t missed a single beat in their first season without him since ‘06, as they’re ranked fourth in the league in points allowed, surrendering an average of just 17.1 per game.
He finished the game with five tackles and one sack.
Leading 14-9 early in the fourth quarter, Houston capped off an 11-play, 68-yard drive when Schaub tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Graham on 3rd and 5 with 11:25 remaining to extend the lead to two possessions at 21-9.
Their defense closed out from there. They imposed their will on Houston all day long, specifically in the run game. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had 239 yards through the air on 25 completions, but running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson combined for just 60 yards on 12 rushes.
“We didn’t want to let them run the football,” said Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. “We had to stop the running game and I thought we did that.”
A 39-yard touchdown grab by tight end Owen Daniels gave the Texans the first score of the game with less than a minute left in the first quarter. Buffalo knocked through two field goals for the only other points of the first half.
Taking advantage of a short field following a 26yard punt return by receiver and special teams extraordinaire Brad Smith, Houston had to go just 43 yards to get into the end zone with a three-yard Foster run and push their lead to 14-9. Foster had four carries and nine yards on the drive, and was set up by a 34-yard catch by Johnson.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak wasn’t thrilled with his team’s performance, given that it wasn’t at its most dominating offensively or in the defensive passing game. Nonetheless, he’ll take it.
“We did a lot of things that are not good enough for us to win consistently,” Kubiak said. “But yet we found a way to survive.”
Houston will travel north for what would appear to be one of the most intriguing games of the year thus far: a battle with another 7-1 heavyweight, The Chicago Bears.
Image Courtesy : Houston Texans