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(Sunday, October 25th)
Final Score: Houston 24, San Francisco 21
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Matt Schaub threw a pair of touchdown passes, and Steve Slaton scored twice, as the Houston Texans held off the San Francisco 49ers, 24-21, at Reliant Stadium.
Schaub passed for 264 yards on 20-of-30, throws while Owen Daniels caught seven balls for 123 yards and a score. Slaton found the end zone on the ground and through the air, rushing for 67 yards on 18 carries and making four catches for 22 yards for the Texans (4-3), who have won two in a row and three of their last four games.
Andre Johnson passed the 7,000-yard mark receiving for his career but left in the third quarter with a chest injury and did not return. He finished with two receptions for 62 yards.
With Houston ahead, 21-0, and Shaun Hill an ineffective 6-of-11 for 45 yards, former No. 1 overall pick in 2005, Alex Smith, took over the quarterbacking duties to start the second half for San Francisco.
Smith, snubbed in favor of Hill to start the season, had arguably his best game as a pro despite playing only two quarters. The former Utah gunslinger tied a career high with three touchdown passes and completed 15-of-22 attempts for 206 yards, leading the 49ers back to within a field goal late in the fourth quarter.
Vernon Davis was the recipient of all three TD tosses to set a career high, gaining 93 yards on seven grabs overall for the 49ers (3-3), who were coming off a bye week and dropped their second straight.
"I wasn't trying to force anything to him or do anything like that," Smith said of Davis. "He's an extremely talented player and creates a matchup problem. And they gave us some looks down there where he came open, and he did a great job getting open and catching the ball."
Rookie Michael Crabtree looked remarkably sharp for playing in his first NFL game. The former Texas Tech phenom receiver was taken 10th overall in April's draft but held out through the fourth week of the season before finally signing earlier this month. The 22-year-old pulled in five receptions for 56 yards -- mostly on balls thrown by Smith.
Trailing 21-0 at halftime, San Francisco turned the offense over to Smith to start the second half, and the comeback spark was ignited almost immediately. Smith hit Crabtree for 17 yards on 2nd-and-12 before going over the top to Davis for a 29-yard touchdown just four minutes into the third.
Smith completed each of his first seven passes and got San Francisco back on the attack for a second scoring drive late in the quarter following a Slaton fumble. Setting out from their own 34, Smith scrambled for 11 on first down and later hit Crabtree to move the chains on 3rd-and-6 in Houston territory. Smith then found Josh Morgan for 17 yards on 3rd-and-7 to gain the 14-yard line and connected with Davis again on the next play to bring the visitors to within seven, 21-14.
A 10-play, 53-yard drive for the Texans yielded a 50-yard field goal by Kris Brown on the ensuing possession, but Smith led the offense back down the field with a familiar result. After a penalty produced a 1st-and-15 from the 49er 34, Smith completed four straight passes -- the final two going for 23 yards each -- to find the end zone, as Davis again was on the receiving end.
The score got San Francisco to within three at 24-21 and left 3:43 on the clock. The 49ers forced a third-down play at their own 37 and safety Mark Roman came up huge, batting a pass intended for a seemingly open Slaton in the right flat.
The Texans punted back to San Francisco with 1:38 to play, but a penalty on Matt Wilhelm during the kick set the 49ers back an additional seven yards to their own six. Completions of 10 yards to Morgan and 22 yards to Isaac Bruce quickly moved the ball to the 38 with 51 seconds to go. However, three plays netted just five yards before a delay of game penalty on Smith brought up a 4th-and-10.
Eugene Wilson came across the middle and picked off Smith's pass intended for Bruce to seal the win, as Schaub kneeled down to run out the final seconds.
"I mean obviously, first half went very much our way, the second half, give them a lot of credit," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. "But when the game is on the line we have to find a way to make plays. You know, it's a big win, I'm proud of our guys, the way they played. They played very hard."
Houston's offense initially sputtered out of the gate, but then moved the ball at will against the 49ers' defense, leading to three scoring drives and a 21-0 lead at halftime.
An eight-play, 61-yard drive was capped by Slaton's one-yard TD run off the right tackle with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter. A pair of completions to Daniels totaling 43 yards were key to taking the early advantage.
The Texans started the second quarter on another long drive, but the 49ers' defense held and forced a punt. However, Arnaz Battle muffed the punt when he lost it in the sun, and Andre Davis recovered at the San Francisco 10.
Two plays later, Schaub and Slaton hooked up for a nine-yard score to make it a 14-0 game.
The 49er offense, meanwhile, continued to sputter and punted back to Houston, which embarked on yet another scoring drive that ended with Schaub hitting Daniels down the middle of the field for a 42-yard touchdown and a 21-point margin at the break.
Last week's NFL Defensive Player of the Week, Texans rookie linebacker Brian Cushing again led the team in tackles with eight...Another former first overall pick (2006), Houston defensive end Mario Williams, recorded his third sack of the season. Williams had 12 sacks in 16 games last year en route to his first Pro Bowl selection...49ers linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive end Justin Smith topped the San Francisco defense with 10 tackles each...Morgan ended with four catches for 62 yards while Frank Gore was sufficiently bottled up by Houston, gaining 32 yards on 13 carries. Gore also caught two passes for 15 yards...The Texans are at Buffalo next Sunday, while the 49ers travel to Indianapolis.
10/25 19:36:13 ET