Brian Blanco, Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. — The streaking Houston Texans are gaining confidence by the victory.
The AFC South leaders pummeled the reeling Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-9 on Sunday with Matt Schaub throwing for two long touchdowns, Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward each running for scores, and the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense delivering another strong performance.
"We're playing well as a team," Schaub said after the Texans (7-3) won their fourth straight with star receiver Andre Johnson sidelined by hamstring injury, matching a franchise mark set in 2009 to head into their bye week with their best-ever record through 10 games.
"We have some playmakers on this offense," the quarterback added. "Defensively, we're playing really well. They're holding teams, making them turn the ball over. They're just playing exceptional football."
Jacoby Jones filled in for Johnson with an 80-yard TD reception on the first play from scrimmage and Foster turned a short pass into his second 78-yard scoring reception of the season for Houston.
A defense that's made a dramatic turnaround under coordinator Wade Phillips had four sacks, three interceptions and recovered a fumble.
The Texans lead their division by 1 1-2 games over second-place Tennessee and may get Johnson, who's been sidelined six weeks, back when they travel to Jacksonville in two weeks. After losing two straight without Schaub's favorite target, Houston has put together an impressive winning streak by getting contributions from a lot of different players.
The bye figures to give others a chance to get healthy, too.
"It was important today that we got to this point," coach Gary Kubiak said. "We've been working really hard. ... We had five or six players that missed a whole week of practice, and they lined up and played. 'We've got a good team thing going on right now."
The Bucs (4-5), on the other hand, have lost three straight and four of five following a 3-1 start.
Josh Freeman threw three interceptions and was sacked four times, and Tampa Bay's offense didn't get into the end zone until the fourth quarter for the second game in a row. Defensively, the Bucs tackled poorly and yielded 268 yards in the opening half and 420 overall.
"Terrible game. Completely, put the blame on me for this one. ... We started the game just like we finished it," Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris said. "Poor job by myself. I'll take complete responsibility for that. I refuse to believe that our guys are that bad, so it has to be my fault."
Houston, which is ranked No. 1 in total defense for the first time, has limited opponents to just over 10 points per game during its winning streak. After limiting the Titans, Jaguars and Browns to fewer than 175 yards the previous three weeks, the Texans held Tampa Bay to 231.
Foster and Tate each ran for over 100 yards to key last week's 30-12 victory over Cleveland. They weren't as successful running this time, however the Texans did finish with 185 yards on the ground. Foster gained 84 on 17 carries and Tate wound up with 63 on 13 carries, including an 11-yard TD burst to make it 37-9 with under six minutes remaining.
"With winning comes a winning mind-set, and believing in each other keeps that positive energy flowing," Texans defensive end Antonio Smith said. "I think everybody is in on it from top to bottom."
Tampa Bay scored on Connor Barth's 55-yard field goal on the final play of the first half and didn't get into the end zone until Freeman threw a 9-yard TD pass to Preston Parker early in the fourth quarter. Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth made his debut for the Bucs, blocking an extra point after Houston's first touchdown and finishing with five tackles.
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