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(Sunday, December 4th)
Final Score: Houston 17, Atlanta 10
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates and running back Arian Foster led a long-game winning drive, and the Texans' defense turned in a staunch performance to help Houston secure a 17-10 victory over the Falcons and extend its franchise-best winning streak to six games.
Yates, a fifth-round draft choice in April, made his first NFL start Sunday and completed 12-of-25 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown, while not throwing an interception.
"I tried my best throughout the week to keep my routine the same, not do anything different so I could be comfortable today," Yates said.
He was starting in place of Matt Leinart, who had replaced injured regular starter Matt Schaub but suffered a season-ending collarbone injury last week at Jacksonville.
Yates replaced Leinart last week and led Houston to the victory, and did the same during his start Sunday. Foster carried the ball 31 times for 111 yards and a touchdown for Houston (9-3), which leads the AFC South.
Foster's touchdown came with six minutes left in the game and ended a drive that lasted nearly 11 minutes.
The Texans defense stifled the Falcons' offense. Quarterback Matt Ryan completed only 20-of-47 passes for 267 yards and was intercepted twice, while throwing for one touchdown.
Michael Turner was limited to 44 yards rushing, as Atlanta (7-5) had a two- game win streak broken.
"We had opportunities to make some plays, and we didn't make them," Ryan said. "When two good football teams are playing, I think it comes down to who makes those plays."
Ryan found Roddy White for a four-yard touchdown with 1:46 left in the third quarter to tie the game, 10-10, but Houston followed with the game-deciding possession that resembled an odyssey more than a football drive.
The Texans took over at their own 15 with 1:46 left in the third quarter and started out poorly, with an incomplete pass and false start. But a defensive pass interference penalty gave the Texans new life.
They closed the third quarter with two Foster rushes for 16 yards and started the fourth quarter with a first down and the ball at the 34.
Foster then lost two yards and Yates had a pass intercepted for a touchdown, which was nullified by two defensive penalties on Atlanta. That second turn of luck kept Houston moving, if slowly.
The Texans' plodding march to the end zone included a series of conversions. Yates connected with Kevin Walter for 12 yards on a 3rd-and-4, and Foster ran for 12 yards on 3rd-and-9. After Yates scrambled for eight yards on another 3rd-and-9 later in the drive, Foster converted the fourth down with a seven- yard gain.
That put the ball at the two, and Foster carried the ball twice more to get across the goal line. The 19-play drive lasted 10:41 and gave the Texans a 17-10 advantage with 6:05 remaining.
Atlanta reached the Texans' 20 on its next possession, but turned the ball over on downs. The Falcons had one last shot after getting the ball back with a minute left, and advanced to the Texans' 25, but the game ended when Ryan's two final heaves fell incomplete, the last getting dropped by Julio Jones.
Ryan was picked off twice during the first quarter, and his second interception resulted in the Texans' first points. Houston took over at the Atlanta 40 but settled for a 43-yard field goal by Neil Rackers with four minutes left in the opening quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Yates completed a 50-yard pass to Andre Johnson to get the ball inside the Atlanta 10. Three plays later, he hit Joel Dreessen with a three-yard TD to make it a 10-0 contest.
Matt Bryant's 19-yard field goal with 5:06 left in the half put Atlanta on the board.
Johnson finished with four catches for 97 yards, but injured his hamstring -- however, not the same hamstring that forced him to miss six games earlier this season...Tony Gonzalez had seven catches for 100 yards for the Falcons...Both teams finished with 337 yards...Yates started 44 games at the University of North Carolina and set school records for career passing yards (9,377), single-season passing yards (3,418) and completion rate (62.3 percent).
12/04 19:17:09 ET