Texans Beat Bills Off To Best Start In Franchise History

By  | 

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.(AP) If Texans running back Steve Slaton 's latest turnover means he's fumbled away his starting job in Houston, Ryan Moats is certainly ready to step in.

In a game the Texans lost star tight end Owen Daniels to what's feared to be a severe knee injury, Slaton was sent to the bench after losing his fifth fumble of the season. But Moats took control, becoming the first player in franchise history to score three touchdowns in one game in a 31-10 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

''I wasn't thinking about that,'' Moats said, referring to setting personal and team records. ''I was thinking about the time that I would get and try to do the best that I could.''

Thanks to Moats, a six-year career backup, the Texans (5-3) won their third straight, second in a row on the road, and are off to the best start in team history.

Moats finished with 126 yards rushing and another 25 yards receiving, and more important, went without a turnover in scoring touchdowns on three straight fourth-quarter possessions.

He got in the game after Slaton lost a fumble on the Texans' third drive as part of a three-turnover first half.

Coach Gary Kubiak wouldn't say whether Slaton lost his job, and was more concerned about Daniels, who didn't return after hurting his right knee. Kubiak said ''It doesn't look good.''

Walking on crutches, Daniels acknowledged he's afraid the injury could be season ending.

What also mattered to Kubiak was how his young team bounced back.

''Through adversity, teams get stronger or they can go the other way,'' Kubiak said. ''This tells you about the character of the group. They didn't make excuses.''

Who needs excuses when the Texans took advantage of another offensively inept performance by the Bills (3-5), who produced a meager 204 yards offense and nine first downs, three in the second half?

''I think we have to take it personal,'' said Terrell Owens , who had five catches for 39 yards, and scored on a 29-yard run. ''We're just not getting it done offensively. That's pretty much the key thing. ... Everyone's not pleased with the way we played.''

The Bills enter their bye week much like they began the season, attempting to address an offense that's faltered behind an inexperienced line and is getting no consistency at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick , making his second start in place of Trent Edwards (concussion), went 15 of 23 for 117 yards and two interceptions.

The offensive struggles spoiled a solid first-half performance by a defense led by rookie safety Jairus Byrd 's two interceptions. The second-round pick out of Oregon became the first player since San Francisco's Dave Baker in 1960 to have two or more interceptions in three straight games.

''We have to take advantage of every opportunity that we get, and we're not doing that,'' Bills running back Fred Jackson said. ''Something has to change because as an offensive unit, we've got to do better.''

Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans joked about how simple it was to contain Buffalo's popgun attack.

''It was easy,'' Ryans said. ''They kind of had the same formations, they didn't give us a lot of motions and things. So it was a simple offense to go against.''

Ryans then joked about how good it was sipping Gatorade on the sideline watching the offense take over.

After settling for Kris Brown 's three field goals, including a 42-yarder, to cut Buffalo's lead to 10-9 midway through the third quarter, the Texans took control to start the fourth.

Houston went ahead 17-10 in the first minute of the period when Moats scored on an 11-yard run to cap a 10-play, 72-yard drive. Quarterback Matt Schaub then hit Andre Johnson for a 2-point conversion.

The Texans scored on their next possession after they weren't fooled by the Bills' fake punt on a fourth-and-2 at the Buffalo 40. Moats scored on a 1-yard plunge and then scored again on a 3-yard run with 3:34 left.

Slaton tried to keep things in perspective.

''It's definitely frustrating,'' said Slaton, who had the ball punched out of his hand following a 7-yard reception. ''You always want to be out there and help your team win. But I mean, my team needed me to support. So I gave 100 percent support.''

Notes: Bills DE Aaron Schobel did not return after hurting his groin, while RT Jamon Meredith did not return after spraining his right knee. Both were hurt in the first half. ... Schaub went 25 of 34 for 268 yards and two interceptions in helping the Texans gain 439 yards. It was the fourth 400-yard game for the Texans this season to match a franchise best set last year. ... Byrd, who left the game after hurting his groin late in the fourth quarter, has interceptions in four straight games to give him seven on the season.