Williams, Slaton put on a show as Texans sack the slumping Jaguars

HOUSTON -- Steve Slaton wanted the ball more.

So the rookie marched up to Houston coach Gary Kubiak at halftime, grabbed him by the shirt and told him so.

Kubiak listened and Slaton responded with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to lead the Texans to a 30-17 win over slumping Jacksonville in their Monday Night Football debut.

"I wanted to run the ball," Slaton said. "I wanted to let him know that if he needed someone to count on, it was me."

Mario Williams had a season-high three sacks and forced a fumble, Andre Johnson added a TD reception and Kris Brown kicked three field goals in the win, a highlight in Houston's disappointing season so far.

The top pick in the 2006 draft, Williams brought down quarterback David Garrard in the second, third and fourth quarters. He forced a fumble by Garrard on his last sack and Houston recovered on the 7.

"Our defense was excellent throughout the game," Kubiak said. "Our defense played extremely well, gave us tremendous opportunities."

Williams' sack set up Slaton's 7-yard score that made it 23-3 with 4:35 to go. Slaton tacked on a 40-yard TD run and finished with 130 yards rushing on 21 carries. He also had two catches for 52 yards in front of a franchise-record crowd of 70,809.

"Nothing's too big for him," Kubiak said. "To watch him get stronger at the end of the game is impressive."

Slaton, Williams and the rest of the Texans were clad in their "Battle Red" uniforms for their first Monday night game. The city of Houston hosted a Monday nighter for the first time since Nov. 21, 1994, when the New York Giants beat the Oilers 13-10 at the Astrodome.

Sage Rosenfels, making his fourth consecutive start in place of injured Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, threw for 200 yards and a score with an interception.

Williams, who has 11 sacks this season, thrived once again in the prime-time spotlight. In his only other night game, a Thursday night matchup against Denver last season, he finished with 3½ sacks.

"The scene was set," Williams said. "There was a lot of intensity. People were saying that we weren't ready for the big stage, analysts or whatever. Come on, now. Anything can happen. As long as we go out there and play ball like we're supposed to, we'll be all right."

Houston (5-7) isn't where it hoped to be after finishing 8-8 last year, but is feeling good after two straight wins.

Jacksonville (4-8), a playoff team last season, has lost five of six after another lackluster performance.

"This is unimaginable," Fred Taylor said. "We never thought before this season we'd be at this point."

The Jaguars had three turnovers and missed a field goal. Garrard fell to the grass twice without being touched by the defense.

"I just kept getting stepped on," Garrard said. "I know my center is doing all he can to protect me, but when you get stepped on on that push-off foot, there's not much you can do. It makes you look clumsy, like your foot is cemented to the ground."

Down by 13 and facing fourth-and-2, Garrard found Matt Jones on a 27-yard pass that got Jacksonville down to the 6 early in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars managed just 1 yard in the next three plays and went for it again on fourth down.

This time Garrard's feet got tangled with a teammate and he crashed to the ground. He got up and flipped the ball toward the end zone as he was hit, but the pass was broken up by Fred Bennett. Coach Jack Del Rio could only shake his head as he watched the play unfold.

"We are working hard and we're trying hard, but that's just not good enough," Del Rio said. "Our execution is not crisp."

Garrard was 25-of-35 for 287 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The Jaguars' only TDs came in the last 3 minutes with the game out of reach. Taylor went in from the 4 to cut it to 23-10 and Reggie Williams scored on an 18-yard reception with 39 seconds left.

Slaton had a nifty 46-yard catch and run in the third quarter that got Houston down to the 1. Slaton failed to score on three straight runs and Houston settled for a 20-yard field goal by Brown that made it 16-3.

Williams got his ninth sack of the season and first in almost a month when he took down Garrard on third-and-5 to force a punt late in the second. The second one came in the third when the QB tripped on one of his linemen and got back up to try to get a pass off. Williams yanked him down before he could get rid of the ball.

Johnson's 31-yard catch capped a quick opening drive and gave the Texans a 7-0 lead early in the first. The reception gave Johnson a franchise-record 29 career touchdowns.

Jacksonville's only chance to score in the first half came early in the second quarter when Josh Scobee's 43-yard attempt sailed wide right. Scobee kicked a 29-yarder in the third.

Game notes

Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis has a sprained right knee and Del Rio said he'd be evaluated on Tuesday. ... Williams' forced fumble was his fourth of the season and seventh for his career. ... Slaton has eight touchdowns this season, tying a rookie team record.