Texans look to improve before facing Raiders
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans finally got their first road win this weekend.
Now they face a much bigger challenge with a trip to Mexico City next Monday night to face the Oakland Raiders , winners of three in a row.
''I think they're playing as one of the best teams in the league,'' coach Bill O'Brien said.
The Texans needed a defensive touchdown and special teams help to down the Jaguars, who have won just two games, 24-21 on Sunday . O'Brien knows the Texans will have to improve to compete with the Raiders (7-2), the AFC West leaders who had consecutive wins over the Jaguars, Buccaneers and Broncos before their bye last week.
''No yards are going to be easy,'' O'Brien said. ''So it's going to be a very, very challenging game for us.''
Houston continues to look for more consistency from quarterback Brock Osweiler , who threw for just 99 yards on Sunday to leave the Texans last in the NFL in yards passing with 187.3 per game. He did throw two touchdowns against the Jaguars, and O'Brien said he was satisfied with the way he directed the offense.
Osweiler and his paltry passing numbers were helped by a running game that piled up a season-high 181 yards. The group was led by Lamar Miller's 83 yards rushing and Akeem Hunt added 52 one day after being elevated from the practice squad.
Though he was complimentary of his running backs, O'Brien noted that the line should also receive plenty of credit for the big day on the ground. The group has weathered the loss of right tackle Derek Newton, who is out for the season with knee injuries, with the help of left tackle Duane Brown. The veteran is finally playing like himself again after missing the first four games this season recovering from a quadriceps injury.
''Duane is playing really well ... I think he's having a really good season,'' O'Brien said. ''I think overall they all played a good game (Sunday) ... whenever you rush for (181) yards, it's not just the backs obviously. Those guys upfront are doing a good job and that was good to see.''
The Texans struggled to stop the run through the first seven games, but have shored up their run defense in the last two by allowing just 58 and 80 yards rushing. Their work on Sunday was more noteworthy since they did it with rookie D.J. Reader filling in at nose tackle for injured veteran Vince Wilfork.
''We've done a good job of setting the edge of the defense, building a wall inside against Detroit and against Jacksonville,'' O'Brien said. ''We've tackled well ... I think it's a collective effort. The safeties have tackled when it's gotten to the safeties, and that's a good thing.''
The group will be tested this week with an Oakland running game that is fourth in the NFL with 127.8 yards a game. The Raiders have split carries between Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington and the pair has combined for 695 yards rushing.
Their success paired with the work of Derek Carr , who has 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions this season, will test a Houston defense that has been the strength of the team this season.
After struggling against tougher competition this season, the Texans aren't considered by many to be a good team despite being 6-3 and leading the AFC South. A win against the surging Raiders could help change that perception, but O'Brien and the Texans aren't overly concerned with how outsiders view them.
''I know it hasn't always looked pretty, but we're playing the games the way we feel we need to play them,'' he said. ''I don't care what Jacksonville's record is. I don't care what anybody's record is. When you win a game in the NFL the way that we won that game, I think that's a testament to our players and our coaching staff. If some guy in New York City or LA doesn't respect us, too bad. I know that our opponents respect us and there's a lot of hard work and tough football players in this building.''
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