Texans win to record franchise-best record
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HOUSTON -- Rookie Arian Foster scored two touchdowns and Bernard Pollard recovered a fumble for a touchdown and had a key interception as the Texans rallied to beat the New England Patriots, 34-27.
The victory gave Houston (9-7) its first winning record and kept its slim playoff hopes alive until the late game which featured the Jets and the Bengals.
With the win against New England, the Texans needed two of the three remaining teams in contention for the wild-card spot (Denver, Baltimore and the Jets) to lose to make the first postseason appearance in the eight-year history of the franchise.
The Chiefs helped by stunning Denver but the Ravens beat the Raiders. The Jets were having an easy time against Cincinnati in last night's game, leading 30-0 late in the third quarter.
"We're winners," cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "We're not right at .500. We're over .500. It's a great thing. I can say that I was a part of the first winning season for the Houston Texans. We're a part of something special."
The Texans trailed by 14 points in the fourth before ending the game with three touchdowns. Foster scored the go-ahead touchdown with about two minutes remaining.
"We weren't going to be denied," coach Gary Kubiak said. "I'm really proud of our football team."
That score was set up by Pollard's interception and 15-yard return. Tom Brady was hit by Mario Williams as he released the ball.
Brady played most of the game despite New England (10-6) having already clinched its playoff spot. He was replaced by rookie Brian Hoyer in the second quarter and on the Patriots' last drive.
"We didn't really have anything set," coach Bill Belichick said. "We just went out and played. We let him play a couple of times, maybe those are good situations that are going to come up for him. We played the game like we thought we needed to play it."
Five starters, including leading rusher Laurence Maroney, were inactive for the AFC East champion Patriots, but Randy Moss and Wes Welker started with Brady.
Belichick's decision to play many of his starters will likely be second-guessed after leading receiver Welker was carted off the field with a left knee injury in the first quarter.
Welker's left leg buckled as he turned to go upfield after a 12-yard reception on New England's first possession.
He remained on the turf for a couple of minutes before hobbling to the sideline with help from Patriots officials and was soon taken to the locker room on a cart.
Andre Johnson, who joined the Texans in their second season, couldn't contain his emotions when the game was decided. "It was like a sigh of relief. This is something that I've been working for since I've been here."
First Published January 4, 2010 12:00 am