Texans start fast in win over Cowboys

HOUSTON -- Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans became the first team to score a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys' starters this preseason on Saturday night.

They didn't stop at just one.

Schaub connected with Andre Johnson early in the second quarter and found speedy rookie Jacoby Jones just before halftime to lead the Texans to a 28-16 win over the Cowboys.

"When you go out and execute the offense, what more can you ask for?" Johnson said. "We went out and did what we were supposed to do."

Schaub, in his first starting job after backing up Michael Vick for three seasons in Atlanta, looked sharp against a defense that flustered Denver last week.

"We're really comfortable in what we're doing and we're really comfortable in one another," he said. "Without a doubt, I think it was a great test for us."

Jones was the star of this one though, returning a punt 91 yards for a score early in the first quarter before leaping for the touchdown grab in the second quarter. It was the second week in a row that Jones, a third-round pick from Division II Lane College, returned a punt for a touchdown after returning one 80 yards last week.

On Saturday he busted through the pack and then outran his last defender and began holding out the ball in front of him at the 10-yard line before flipping into the end zone.

Jones said coach Gary Kubiak had a message for him about that when he got back to the sidelines: "He said 'Don't ever do that again,"' Jones said.

The Texans led 7-0 when Schaub delivered a nifty pass between two defenders to Johnson for a 6-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter. That play was set up by a 46-yard run by Ahman Green two plays earlier. Green finished with eight carries for 65 yards.

Johnson led the Texans with four receptions for 39 yards. The second touchdown came when Jones, the former track star, got in front of his defender for the 19-yard reception which made it 21-6 at halftime.

Schaub was 12-of-16 for 109 yards in 2½ quarters of play.

"They came out with a really quick game, and a lot of running and power, and they did that well," Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. "In trying to do what we've been working on this preseason, they really hurt us."

Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense were shaky at best. He threw two touchdown passes but also fumbled, threw an interception and bobbled a snap that it appeared he wasn't ready for.

"As a team I didn't see many good things on our part," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "Offense, defense, we just didn't play well."

Phillips said he was worried about how his team would react in front of the Texans crowd.

"We've got a lot of work to do," he said. "It's the first time we've been in a hostile environment and we didn't react well."

On their second possession, the Cowboys had two straight offsides penalties, but dug out of it when Romo found Sam Hurd for 18-yard pass.

But Dallas was flagged for holding on the next play and three plays later Romo fumbled the snap and was drilled by 2006 No. 1 pick Mario Williams while chasing it down, forcing a punt.

After the hit, Williams jumped up and put a finger to his lips, as if to silence his many detractors who believe the Texans should have picked Vince Young or Reggie Bush instead of drafting him.

In the second quarter Romo engineered a 9-play, 74-yard drive that ended when Terrell Owens grabbed a short pass and wriggled away from three Texans defenders for a 35-yard touchdown. He sat the ball down just inside the end zone and jawed at Houston fans who responded with a loud chorus of boos. It was his only catch of the game.

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He dropped a pass on third down on the next series, but it was negated by an offsides penalty on the Texans.

Martin Gramatica missed the extra point to bring the Cowboys within 14-6.

"We didn't come out and play like we wanted to in the first half," Owens said. "The offense still needs some work ... the chances were there, but the penalties really stopped us."

Romo's second touchdown pass was for 18 yards to Jason Witten and made it 21-13 in the third quarter.

Late in the third quarter against Houston's backups, Romo badly underthrew Owens and was picked off by rookie Fred Bennett. It was Romo's last play of the night and he finished 14-of-22 for 197 yards.

The Texans defensive line, led by Williams and featuring two other first-round picks, finally got the pass rush going. Houston sacked Romo twice and hurried him several other times.

"It looked like we did some better things," Kubiak said. "We were more disruptive making their quarterback move around a little bit."

Last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year, DeMeco Ryans, led the Texans with eight tackles and Williams, who entered the game with no tackles, had four and pressured Romo a couple of times.

"It was good, but we didn't do as much as we wanted to," Williams said. "There were some times that we - that I - missed some opportunities. But we will get better at it and keep going."

Williams said he did something different in this game, but wouldn't disclose what it was saying only it had to do with his approach. Whatever it was, he said it made him feel "a lot more comfortable."

Julius Jones and Marion Barber combined for 16 carries and 48 yards rushing for Dallas. Jones had a long run of 12 yards.

Nick Folk added a 23-yard field goal for Dallas in the fourth quarter. The Texans' last score came on a 17-yard pass from Sage Rosenfels to David Anderson with 2:57 to play.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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