Turnovers, blocked punt and bad day against the rush send Texans to first loss
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Houston Texans struggled to find a rhythm on offense with star running back Arian Foster sidelined with a hamstring injury. Turning the ball over three times only made things worse.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw his first three interceptions of the season, the Texans had a punt blocked and gave up 193 yards rushing to the New York Giants in a 30-17 loss Sunday.
The mistakes led to 17 points for the Giants — and the total might be pushed to 20 if one counts a decision by Houston coach Bill O'Brien to go for a first down at his own 46 early in the second half.
"We're not going to win any games when I play like that, especially in the first half with the turnovers," said Fitzpatrick, who was 20 of 34 for 289 yards. "Sometimes interceptions happen, but it was just poor play by me."
And a stunning reversal for the Texans (2-1), who came in tied for the league lead with a plus-5 turnover differential. The Giants were at the other end of the spectrum at minus-6 with no takeaways.
On Sunday, the Giants won the turnover battle 3-1, got pressure from their front four and made the big plays in a much-needed win.
"Anytime you turn the ball over three times, commit penalties, have trouble stopping the run and have a punt blocked, it's not a formula for success," O'Brien said.
Having Foster in the backfield would have helped.
Rookie Alfred Blue stepped in, carrying the ball 13 times for 78 yards.
"I didn't find out until we got to the stadium," Blue said. "He (Foster) put a strong right arm on my shoulder and just said go out there, be calm and just play football."
The Giants just played it better on Sunday in assuring they won't have another 0-6 start.
Rashad Jennings ran for a career-high 176 yards and a touchdown and Eli Manning threw two TD passes as the Giants overcame some early mistakes.
The victory not only put some life back into the Giants (1-2) after two disappointing efforts, it also ended any chance of a second straight horrible start for Tom Coughlin's team.
The Giants got a lot of contributions. Victor Cruz made a 26-yard touchdown catch, his first since Game 4 of last season, and danced the salsa.
Fitzpatrick threw a 44-yard scoring pass to Damaris Johnson and ran for another score for the Texans while Manning was highly efficient, going 21 of 28 for 234 yards and no interceptions.
New York outgained Houston 262-83 in the first half in taking a 14-0 lead on the touchdown pass to Cruz and a 1-yard run by Jennings, which was set up by Antrel Rolle's 25-yard interception return to the Texans 2.
"I saw a huge difference today. I think we grew as a team," Rolle said. "Coach Coughlin did a great job keeping us together. He tried to get us over the top, and we've got to thank him for that. When Coach takes care of you and throws you a bone, it makes you want to go out and play your butt off for him. Everyone did a great job of being on the same page. We were all-in today."
The lead should have been a larger. Tight end Larry Donnell fumbled at the Texans 4 in the first quarter after a reception, and Pro Bowl long snapper Zak DeOssie rolled one past holder Steve Weatherford on a short field-goal attempt in the second.
Houston added to its woes early in the third quarter, going for a first down on a fourth-and-1 from its own 46 and failing.
Brown hit a 39-yard field goal to make it 17-0 before Houston rallied behind Fitzpatrick. Three passes to DeAndre Hopkins set up a field goal, and Johnson's TD closed the gap to 17-10 with 2:13 left in the quarter.
Jennings, who carried 34 times, had three rushes for 28 yards as the Giants drove for a field goal to extend the lead to 20-10 early in the fourth.
Damontre Moore blocked Shane Lechler's punt to give New York the ball at the Houston 29, and Manning and Fells hooked up for touchdown for the second straight week.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Fitzpatrick on the next series, setting up Brown's final field goal.
NOTES: Jennings' previous career high was 150 yards vs. Houston last season while playing for Oakland. ... The Texans had not allowed a sack in their first two games. The Giants got two and had five quarterback hurries. ... New Jersey native Brian Cushing had a game-high 17 tackles. ... J.J. Watt had a sack and two tackles for losses. ... Johnathan Joseph had a fumble recovery for the Texans. ... Lechler completed a 10-yard pass to Blue on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 39 on the Texans' first series. Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara ended the drive at the New York 36 with an interception.
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