HOUSTON – Houston’s beleaguered defense dominated and rookie running back Wali Lundy discovered the Texans’ lost running game to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-7 on Sunday.

Lundy, who hadn’t played in the last three games, had 93 yards rushing and a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that extended the lead to 17-7. No Houston running back had gained 60 yards rushing before Sunday and the Texans managed just 34 yards rushing last week.

Houston’s defense, which entered the day allowing a league-worst 418 yards a game, forced two turnovers – both of which led to touchdowns – and held the Jaguars to just 220 yards.

The Texans (2-4) put up their biggest point total of the season, and they did it against the NFL’s only defense with two shutouts. It’s Houston’s first AFC South victory since beating the Jaguars 21-0 in December 2004, and the Texans’ second victory matches their win total from last season.

The Jaguars (3-3) trailed 10-7 and had a first down inside the 30 when Antwan Peek forced a fumble by Fred Taylor which No. 1 pick Mario Williams recovered. The fumble was Taylor’s first since 2004 and Williams’ first career fumble recovery.

Lundy had his first career touchdown and became the first Houston running back to score this season when he ran in from the 2 in the fourth. His 29 yard run – a career high – four plays earlier got the Texans to the 15.

Ron Dayne had started the last two games for Houston, but was inactive on Sunday, as coach Gary Kubiak said he wanted to give Lundy and Samkon Gado another shot.

Texans fans, who normally boo most of the game before leaving early, were raucous and began doing the wave midway through the fourth quarter.

On Jacksonville’s first play after the score, Demarcus Faggins knocked the ball out of Ernest Wilford’s hands and the Texans recovered. It the 2006 debut for Faggins, who missed the first five games with a fractured foot.

David Carr found rookie tight end Owen Daniels on the 14-yard touchdown pass two plays later to make it 24-7. Carr rebounded from last week’s two interception performance to finished 25-of-34 for 224 yards.

Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich, who entered the game with a sore left ankle, may have realized it was going to be a long day when his foot got tangled up with his center and he fell into the splits before being hit by Williams on Jacksonville’s first drive of the game.

Things didn’t get much better from there as he often underthrew or overthrew receivers and finished 14-of-28 for 125 yards.

The only time Jacksonville was able to get anything done was in the third quarter when Maurice Jones-Drew bulled in from 1 yard out for the touchdown. The play was set up when Lewis Sanders was flagged for pass interference on third-and-8 from the eight, giving the Jaguars a first down from the 1.

The nine play, 70-yard drive was one yard less than Jacksonville’s total yardage in the first half.

Jacksonville’s next drive was stopped when Houston rookie DeMeco Ryans tipped a pass by Leftwich on third down. Ryans, a linebacker who leads the Texans with 47 tackles this season, had six on Sunday.

Houston’s third quarter woes continued as they have been outscored 48-0 in that quarter. But unlike last week in a 34-6 loss to Dallas in which they had a halftime lead, they didn’t collapse after a tough third quarter.

The Texans took an early lead when Andre Johnson fought through double coverage on third-and-7 to grab a 35-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone early in the second quarter. He finished with eight receptions for 106 yards for his fourth 100-yard game of the season.

Kris Brown, who had missed from 38 yards in the first quarter, hit a 43-yard field goal about a minute before halftime to make it 10-0. He also had one from 21 yards in the fourth quarter.

Houston’s defense was stifling in the first half, and the Jaguars managed just 71 yards and were 0-of-5 on third down conversions.

AP-ES-10-22-06 1641EDT


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