HOUSTON -- For the first time this season, the Houston Texans weren't left to answer questions about their horrible run defense and inability to stop big plays.
Instead, the defense got to celebrate its best performance since 2004 as the Texans beat the struggling Oakland Raiders 29-6 on Sunday. The 165 yards Houston allowed was the second fewest in team history and the fewest since giving up 126 in a win over Jacksonville almost five years ago.
"Everybody was having fun," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "When you're having fun you have confidence in what you do. You don't second-guess. You don't pull up when you can [go full speed] and that's when you make big plays."
The Texans (2-2) finally found their running game and figured out a way to shut down someone else's as Houston's NFL-worst defense held the Raiders (1-3) to 45 yards rushing. The Texans were allowing 205 yards rushing entering the game.
Houston also forced three turnovers and got its first safety in almost seven years.
The Texans got the win despite struggling with some illnesses. They had the NFL's first confirmed case of swine flu earlier this week in tight end Anthony Hill. Houston had some other players get sick on Saturday night and Sunday morning, but did not confirm any other cases of swine flu.
"Eugene got very sick last night, it continued through this morning, so there was no way he could play," coach Gary Kubiak said. "We're monitoring the situation. It's something that's hit us in the past four days and we just have to work through it."
Offense lineman Eric Winston said Wilson was so sick he "could barely walk."
When asked if the illnesses were more cases of swine flu, Kubiak said: "I don't want to speculate on any of that ... but it was kind of scary this morning, to be honest with you."
"We could not run the football and that really disrupted our offense," Raiders coach Tom Cable said. "We are really killing ourselves -- we're shooting ourselves in the foot all over the place."
Slaton's first score came on a 32-yard run in the second quarter that pushed Houston's lead to 13-3. It was the Texans' first rushing score this season. Slaton finished with 65 yards rushing and Ryan Moats added 56.
Slaton scored again on an 18-yard catch-and-run that made it 20-3 later in the second quarter. That score was set up by a career-long 44-yard reception by Owen Daniels.
But Andre' Davis downed the punt at the 1 and rookie Brian Cushing tackled Justin Fargas in the end zone for a safety to make it 22-6. It was Houston's first safety since the inaugural season of 2002.
Jones ran 95 yards untouched on the ensuing kickoff for his first career kickoff return touchdown. He's returned two punts for scores in his career.
The Raiders were upset about several dropped passes.
"We kept ourselves in third-and-long situations," Russell said. "We keep harping on that it's a must that we stay in manageable downs."
The Raiders added a field goal late in the second quarter to cut the lead to 20-6. That drive was kept alive when Russell found Louis Murphy for a 19-yard reception on fourth-and-9.
A 62-yard reception by Andre Johnson got Houston to the 7 in the first quarter and Brown's 26-yard field goal made it 3-0. Oakland tied it with a 46-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski after a fumble by Slaton in the first quarter.
Brown added a 34-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Johnnie Lee Higgins muffed a punt late in the fourth quarter that the Texans recovered and then ran out the clock. ... Raiders T Cornell Green has a calf injury, S Tyvon Branch has a groin injury and TE Zach Miller has a concussion. Cable didn't provide any more information on the injuries.
- Don Carey