NFL Nation: MNF13 Jaguars
|AP Photo/Dave Einsel|
|Rookie Steve Slaton rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns to help the Texans to a 30-17 victory over the Jaguars on Monday.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
HOUSTON -- The Texans looked like a team with a foundation Monday night: Three stars shined for a team that played with resolve and assertively took a game from a division rival.
Three-fourths of the way through the season, it may mean they're finally figuring things out. It may mean the Jaguars, whose quarterback got tripped up by his linemen more than once as he dropped back, are an easy team to beat. It probably means some of both.
And that's got to be good enough for the home team, playing for the first time on "Monday Night Football" and now standing alone in third place in the AFC South at 5-7.
Receiver Andre Johnson set the tone with a 31-yard touchdown catch and run on the opening drive, but he then moved to the background in a game that belonged to defensive end Mario Williams, who sacked David Garrard three times and forced a fumble, and Steve Slaton, the electric rookie running back who accounted for 182 yards and two scores.
"He's a little monster for us, he's a little beast for us," cornerback Jacques Reeves said of Slaton, who's averaging 5 yards a carry and is on pace for 1,205 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs.
As a third-round pick out of West Virginia, Slaton was projected by many as a third-down specialist, a change of pace. But unable to get any consistent contribution out of veteran Ahman Green this season -- he's now on injured reserve -- the Texans turned to Slaton to set the pace instead of changing it, and he has been more than they could have reasonably expected.
"Even our offensive coordinator sort of touted him as a Reggie Bush-style back, good out of the backfield with great hands for catching the ball," quarterback Sage Rosenfels said. "He's become a great every-down back. He hits the hole quick and he's got great balance.
"He usually gets hit pretty hard 5 or 6 yards downfield and has great balance to stay up and get another 4 or 5 and sometime break them. He has been sort of a gem for this football team. To find that kid in the third round, he's become one of the best players on our team."
The Texans just had their first possession of the second half and moved to a 50-yard Kris Brown field goal that put them ahead 13-0.
Mathis got hurt defending a desperation pass in the back right corner of the end zone. Holder Matt Turk tried to salvage a bad snap by Bryan Pittman on a 21-yard field goal attempt but his pass for Owen Daniels sailed incomplete as Mathis went down.