Matt Schaub threw for 268 yards and a pair of scores on Sunday, as the Texans continued their best start in franchise history with a 21-9 triumph over the Bills at Reliant Stadium.
Schaub finished 19-of-27 passing without an interception and Arian Foster carried the ball 24 times for 111 yards and a touchdown for the Texans (7-1), who own the best record in the AFC.
“We did a lot of things that are not good enough for us to win consistently but yet we found a way to survive,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak admitted. “We have a lot of things we have to fix.”
Andre Johnson hauled in eight passes for 118 yards, while Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham each added a touchdown grab in the victory.
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25-of-38 passes for 239 yards, but the Bills (3-5), were unable to get the ground game going as they rushed for just 78 yards en route to their fourth loss in their last five games.
“In general they turned their drives into touchdowns and we didn’t,” Buffalo coach Chan Gailey said. “They were able to get the ball in the end zone and we weren’t able to get the ball in the end zone. That’s the bottom line.”
After the teams exchanged punts for much of the first quarter, Houston put together a quick 4-play, 77-yard scoring drive for the game’s first touchdown.
Foster’s 14-yard surge to the Buffalo 39 came before Schaub faked a handoff, rolled left and threw back to his right, where Daniels was waiting all alone down the right sideline for a 39-yard touchdown grab and a 7-0 Houston lead.
Buffalo made its way into Houston territory on its ensuing possession when C.J. Spiller caught a short pass and scampered 28 yards to the Houston 19, but Rian Lindell pushed a 37-yard field goal attempt wide right to keep the Bills off the board.
Schaub quickly moved the Texans deep into Buffalo territory with a 24-yard toss to James Casey, but Shayne Graham’s 46-yard field goal attempt was blocked to keep it a 7-0 margin with 6:22 left until halftime.
Fitzpatrick then put together a 10-play, 60-yard scoring drive, as he found Scott Chandler for eight yards on 3rd-and-6 from the Houston 20 to keep the trek alive, but the drive stalled there, setting up Lindell’s 22-yard field goal to bring the Bills within 7-3 with 1:42 left until halftime.
Buffalo forced a quick three-and-out from the Texans and Leodis McKelvin returned the ensuing punt 20 yards to the Buffalo 33. Spiller’s 22-yard surge put the visitors into the red zone, but Fitzpatrick was sacked on the next play and with nine seconds left in the half, Lindell buried a 38-yard field goal to send the Bills into the locker room trailing 7-6.
Buffalo went three-and-out on the opening possession of the second half and on the ensuing possession, the hosts increased their advantage.
Facing a 3rd-and-5, Schaub found Johnson deep down the right sideline for a 34-yard completion to the Buffalo 4 and two plays later, Foster punched it in from three yards out to give Houston a 14-6 lead early in the third quarter.
Fitzpatrick moved his squad into Houston territory on the ensuing possession, as his 27-yard strike to Chandler pushed the Bills to the Houston 29.
The drive stalled however, as Fitzpatrick’s third-down pass was knocked away, resulting in Lindell’s 39-yard make to cut the deficit to 14-9 midway through the period.
After the teams exchanged punts, Schaub converted a 3rd-and-2 with a 14-yard toss to Johnson and after three straight runs by Foster, Schaub went back to Johnson for 18 more to the Buffalo 9.
Three plays later, Schaub rolled right and found Garrett Graham in the end zone for a 5-yard TD to give the Texans a 12-point cushion with 11:25 left in the fourth.
After a three-and-out from the Bills, Houston chewed up nearly six minutes of clock before turning the ball over on downs deep in Buffalo territory.
The Bills would give the ball back however, as Fitzpatrick was stripped at the Houston 34 to give the Texans the ball with just over three minutes left.
Neither team made any headway on the final two drives.