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Texans escape Black Hole with 23-14 win

OAKLAND, Calif. (Dec. 3, 2006) -- David Carr completed 22 straight passes two weeks ago and didn't win.

So he doesn't feel bad about getting one on a day he didn't complete a single pass in the second half and his team finished the game with negative yards passing.

"It's the weirdest feeling I've ever had in a football game," Carr said.

The Texans became the first team in 25 years to win a game with negative yards passing, using Demarcus Faggins ' 58-yard fumble return for a touchdown, two long returns on special teams and a pair of fumbles by Randal Williams to beat the Oakland Raiders 23-14.

Carr figures this is payback for what happened two weeks ago in Buffalo, when the Texans lost 24-21 despite his big game passing.

"This was a lot better feeling," Carr said. "This plane ride is going to be much sweeter."

In a season full of ugly losses by the Raiders (2-10), this one gets its own special place. In the first game since John Shoop took over the play-calling duties from Tom Walsh, Oakland turned the ball over five times, missed three field goals, allowed five sacks and had only one offensive score.

The Raiders lost despite outgaining Houston 302-124 in total yards.

"When you make the mistakes that we made, it's tough to win," running back Justin Fargas said. "We can move the ball but when you get penalties and turnovers, you end up with no points on the board after all that effort. That wears on the morale of the team and the other team is able to get confidence. All of a sudden, a team that should be blown out of the water is hanging around in the fourth quarter and we end up in this situation."

Carr finished 7-of-14 for 32 yards, failing to complete a pass in the final 32 minutes. He was sacked five times for 37 yards, leaving Houston with negative-5 yards passing.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Texans were the first team since the Houston Oilers on Oct. 4, 1981, against Cincinnati to finish with negative yards passing and win.

"We weren't productive at all," Carr said. "We didn't do anything. I didn't do anything. We could have had you out there. Anybody could have handed it off that second half."

About the only thing working for the Texans (4-8) on offense was handing the ball to Ron Dayne, who had 83 of his 95 yards rushing in the second half.

Houston Pro Bowl kick returner Jerome Mathis, who missed the first 11 games recovering from a fractured foot, provided a spark with an 87-yard return of the second-half kickoff. Wali Lundy ran in from the 3 on the next play to tie the game at 14. That made up for a first-half mistake when Mathis bobbled a kick in the end zone and still tried to return it, getting out only to the 4.

Mathis was later used as a decoy when Dexter Wynn faked a reverse on a punt return and went 58 yards before being tackled by punter Shane Lechler at the 21.

The Texans settled for a 42-yard field goal by Kris Brown to make it 17-14. A pair of fumbles by Williams led to two more field goals by Brown, putting the game out of reach.

"We were struggling big-time," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We couldn't protect or throw the ball. There's no excuse for not protecting the ball. We were not going to mess it up. We were going to run the ball and try to get ourselves in field goal position."

The Raiders had their chances, but Sebastian Janikowski missed three field goals, hitting the left upright on a 37-yarder and 29-yarder in the third quarter. Janikowski was in the lineup despite being bothered by a bad back during the week. Coach Art Shell said Janikowski told him he felt fine and the back wasn't a factor in the misses.

Rookie DeMeco Ryans led the defense for Houston with 14 solo tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception.

The defenses did more scoring in the first half than the offenses, with each team returning a fumble for a touchdown. The only offensive touchdown came on a 21-yard drive set up by Chris Carr 's 34-yard punt return for Oakland. Fargas scored on a 3-yard run to tie it at 7 early in the second quarter.

Late in the half, Carr had a run of three straight offensive plays when he was sacked and fumbled the ball. Carr lost the first two fumbles, including one returned 35 yards for a score by Kirk Morrison after Warren Sapp's in the final minute of the half to make it 14-7.

Morrison admitted that the offensive struggles are frustrating for the defense, but they can only worry about doing their job.

"I don't have any control of the offense," he said. "I can't go out there and run the football and score a touchdown. I have to go out there and tackle and go out there and make plays on defense and give our offense opportunities."

Notes: The Oilers had negative-4 yards passing in a 17-10 victory over the Bengals. ... Houston's previous low for passing yards in a game was 6 on Oct. 23, 2005, against Indianapolis. ... The fewest the Raiders had allowed was 7 against Denver on Sept. 10, 1967.

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