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(Sunday, December 27th)
Final Score: Houston 27, Miami 20
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Matt Schaub threw for 286 yards with a pair of touchdowns, as Houston kept its playoff hopes alive with a 27-20 win over Miami at Land Shark Stadium.
Arian Foster ran for 97 yards with a score for Houston (8-7), which has won three straight and continued its mastery of Miami with its fifth win in as many tries against the Dolphins. The Texans need a home victory next week over New England to finish with a winning record for the first time in franchise history, and with some help could also reach the playoffs.
"This is as deep as we've been as a team, and we have an outside chance of making the playoffs next week, and we have a realistic chance at becoming a winner for the first time in this organization's history," said Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. "There's a lot to look forward to next week as a football team, but I'm very proud of our guys today."
The Dolphins (7-8) were also in the hunt for a playoff berth entering the contest, but fell behind 27-0 in the first half and never recovered on the way to their second straight loss. Miami is still not mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, but needs a win next week at home against Pittsburgh and losses by just about every other team at 8-7 or 7-8 to make the playoffs for a second straight year.
Schaub threw for 379 yards with a touchdown and also ran for the winning score with three seconds left in a 29-28 win at Miami last October. This time around, he completed his first eight passes and finished 20-of-31. Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones each caught TD throws in the victory.
Chad Henne completed 35-of-55 passes for 322 yards with a touchdown and an interception in defeat. Lex Hilliard scored twice for Miami, which lost running back Ricky Williams to a shoulder injury in the third quarter. Williams ran for just 35 yards on 10 carries and caught five passes for 26 yards, returning for one snap in the fourth quarter after his injury.
"We thought we could move the ball on them, we just didn't covert third downs," Williams said of the poor first half performance. "We didn't play good defense, and we just got off to a slow start and weren't very competitive in the first half."
Last Sunday, Miami rallied from an 18-point deficit to force overtime before losing to Tennessee. This week, the Dolphins looked listless on offense and clueless on defense in the first half before making things somewhat interesting in the second.
Miami managed to get on the board just seven seconds before the intermission, as Dan Carpenter kicked a 27-yard field goal after Henne threw incomplete on three straight passes from the Houston nine-yard line.
After an 18-play set on their last possession of the first half, the Dolphins took the second-half kickoff and drove 79 yards on 12 plays for a touchdown. Henne converted 3rd-and-8 with a 10-yard scramble and Hilliard scored from two yards away after Williams was hurt two plays earlier.
Miami's defense came up with a big play on Houston's first offensive series of the second half, as Yeremiah Bell intercepted a tipped pass and returned it to the Houston 33. The Dolphins were unable to take advantage, as Henne was sacked on the first play and Carpenter missed wide right on a 54-yard field goal try.
The Dolphins got the ball back after a punt and appeared to score again when Henne hit Ted Ginn Jr. with a 62-yard touchdown pass, but the play was negated by a tripping penalty on fullback Lousaka Polite.
Miami was eventually forced to punt on the first play of the fourth quarter, but quickly got the ball back after a Houston punt and marched 74 yards in six plays for another score. Hilliard caught a swing pass and took it 10 yards for the touchdown to make it 27-17 with 9:25 remaining.
Needing two scores, the Dolphins managed to trim the deficit to seven with 2:30 left after Carpenter kicked a 38-yard field goal, but Houston recovered the ensuing onside kick and picked up one first down to run out the clock.
The Texans took the opening kickoff and grabbed the lead on a 49-yard field goal by Kris Brown. Two passes to Johnson -- a 13-yard strike and a 25-yard catch and run -- set up the kick.
After a Miami punt, Houston marched 80 yards in nine plays and opened a 10-0 edge. A 35-yard pass to Jones put the Texans at the Miami 19 and they soon after faced 4th-and-1 from the 10. Rather than kick the field goal, Houston went to the air and Schaub hit Johnson with a quick strike at the five and he took it into the end zone for the touchdown.
Schaub was 7-for-7 for 114 yards on the first two possessions, then finally threw incomplete on his ninth attempt -- a drop by Kevin Walter on Houston's third series. Unfazed, Schaub continued to shred the Miami secondary and found Jones with a 44-yard touchdown pass to complete a six-play, 94-yard drive for a 17-0 advantage just 2:19 into the second quarter.
The Dolphins continued to implode on the very next play from scrimmage, as a Henne pass went off Williams' hands and into the arms of Houston linebacker Brian Cushing for an interception.
It took the Texans just three plays to again find the end zone. After an incomplete pass, Ryan Moats caught a swing pass for 11 yards and Foster ran untouched up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown to make it 24-0.
The domination continued after Miami went three-and-out, as Brown connected on a 22-yard field goal to cap a 12-play, 60-yard drive for a 27-0 cushion with just 4:25 remaining in the opening half.
The Dolphins lost linebacker Channing Crowder to a foot injury on the second play from scrimmage...Johnson eclipsed 1,500 yards receiving for the second straight season...The 94-yard touchdown drive was Houston's longest of the season...Foster, a rookie from Tennessee, scored his first NFL touchdown.
12/28 00:53:41 ET
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