Texans defense gets no reprieve vs. Lions
Houston • Jacksonville backup quarterback Chad Henne picked apart the Houston Texans' highly regarded defense for about three quarters on Sunday.
The Texans clamped down at the end, finally, and that's what defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will take away from Houston's dramatic 43-37 victory.
Houston (9-1) gave up 458 yards and four touchdown passes, a stunning reversal for a defense that had allowed only one touchdown in the previous three games. The defense returned to form just in time to allow Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson to rally the Texans to their first overtime win at Reliant Stadium.
"The most important stat is winning," Phillips said. "The next most important thing with a football team is how you play under pressure."
Houston's coaches didn't spend much time dwelling on the defensive mistakes in Sunday's game. The Texans have a quick turnaround before they face Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the NFL's second-ranked offense in Detroit (4-6) in the early game on Thanksgiving.
Calvin Johnson leads the league in yards receiving (1,117) and in receptions covering at least 20 yards (24), an ominous sign after the Jaguars completed passes of 63, 67, 39 and 81 yards on Sunday. And Houston's secondary could be short-handed in Detroit, with top cornerback Johnathan Joseph nursing a sore hamstring. Joseph sat out practice on Monday and Tuesday and will decide Thursday if he's ready to play.
"Am I helping or hurting the team?" he said. "For me, it's just making sure I can go out there and hold up to the task and do my job completely at a top level, where there wouldn't be any dropoff in the level of play."
Houston's defense started the Jaguars game looking just fine. The Texans led 7-0 three minutes into it, and safety Danieal Manning sacked Blaine Gabbert and forced a fumble. Gabbert left the game with a bruised right elbow.
But Henne found Justin Blackmon for a 63-yard reception later in the first quarter, then threw to tight end Marcedes Lewis for the tying touchdown. He completed 13 of 17 passes for 250 yards through three quarters and started the fourth with an 81-yard touchdown pass to Blackmon.
"We were trying hard the whole game," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "We just weren't having much success. You keep trying things and trying things and eventually, something starts to work."
The Texans' defense finally threw Henne off, and he completed only two passes the rest of the final quarter and overtime.
The Texans have talked about finishing the season as the league's No. 1 defense. They've slipped to No. 4 overall and have one of their most demanding tests of the season coming up the Lions are averaging 401.7 yards per game and 301.8 yards passing.
The Jaguars' offense ranked as one of the league's worst coming into Sunday's game, and Phillips took some blame for the early breakdowns.
Week 12 schedule
• Houston at Detroit, 10:30 a.m., Ch. 2
• Washington at Dallas, 2:15 p.m., Ch. 13
• New England at N.Y. Jets, 6:20 p.m., Ch. 5
• Denver at Kansas City, 11 a.m., Ch. 2
• Minnesota at Chicago, 11 a.m., Ch. 13
• Oakland at Cincinnati, 11 a.m.
• Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 11 a.m.
• Buffalo at Indianapolis, 11 a.m.
• Tennessee at Jacksonville, 11 a.m.
• Atlanta at Tampa Bay, 11 a.m.
• Seattle at Miami, 11 a.m.
• Baltimore at San Diego, 2:05 p.m.
• St. Louis at Arizona, 2:25 p.m.
• San Francisco at New Orleans, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 13
• Green Bay at N.Y. Giants, 6:20 p.m., Ch. 5
• Carolina at Philadelphia, 6:30 p.m., ESPN