OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Whether it’s in a starting role or relief, Sage Rosenfels once again saved his best for the fourth quarter.
Rosenfels connected with Andre’ Davis on a 42-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter that helped the Houston Texans snap a three-game skid with a 24-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Getting his first start of the season in place of the injured Matt Schaub, Rosenfels took some time to find his groove. Once he did, he helped the Texans go into the bye week on a positive note and earned his first career win as a starter.
“It is a lot more pressure,” Rosenfels said of his third career start. “To think about that all week is different. It was driving me nuts in the hotel yesterday and this morning.”
Rosenfels had played in relief of Schaub the past three weeks, rallying Houston (4-5) from a 32-7 deficit two weeks ago against Tennessee before losing 38-36. Against the Raiders (2-6), he made the play that ended a comeback attempt after Oakland had cut a 17-point deficit to seven early in the fourth quarter.
On third-and-2, Davis sped past cornerback Stanford Routt and caught the long TD pass that gave the Texans a 24-10 lead with 7:50 to go.
“Andre’ ran a great route,” Rosenfels said. “I saw that he had 3 yards on him and threw it. I thought I overthrew him, but he ran that sucker down.”
Rosenfels came into the game with the third-best quarterback rating in the fourth quarter (125.1) and has thrown all seven of his touchdown passes in the fourth period this season. He finished 11-for-19 for 181 yards and one interception, going 3-for-3 for 47 yards in the final quarter.
Ron Dayne had 21 carries for a season-high 122 yards and a touchdown with starter Ahman Green banged up. Dayne has run for at least 95 yards only three times the past two seasons, twice against Oakland.
He finished with 95 yards in last year’s 23-14 win. He was even better Sunday, carrying 21 times in his fourth career 100-yard rushing game. He scored on a 14-yard run in the second quarter two plays after Fred Bennett intercepted a pass from Josh McCown.
“That’s Ronnie,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “Just when you think maybe not, Ronnie steps up and says, ‘Get on my back. I can still do this.’ He’s done it twice here for us. He did it last year, he did it today. He’s a warrior. He knew we needed him, and he stepped up big.”
After Davis’ touchdown catch, McCown threw his third interception on Oakland’s next drive to help seal the win for the Texans. McCown finished 13-for-28 for 158 yards, throwing a 28-yard TD pass to Tim Dwight with 1:30 left.
Houston recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
The Raiders have lost four straight since a two-game winning streak in late September and the calls have already started for No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell to play.
McCown, who moved back into the starting role after missing four games with a broken toe, was booed from the start. Frustrated fans began their chants for Russell in the first half. When McCown played earlier this season, the calls were for Daunte Culpepper to play. But now after watching Culpepper struggle when McCown got hurt, the fans are looking to the future with Russell.
“As much they may hate me or anybody else they don’t understand how I feel,” McCown said. “Nobody in this room and none of the fans want to feel what I feel right now. Trust me. It’s a sick, hurting feeling you can’t describe.”
The Raiders once again got off to a slow start, failing to score in the first half. The closest they got to scoring came late in the half after a drive stalled at the Houston 46. Coach Lane Kiffin opted to try a record-setting 64-yard field goal instead of punting on fourth-and-9.
Sebastian Janikowski, whose career long is 55 yards, had plenty of distance, but the ball bounced off the right upright.
“It wasn’t going to be a distance issue. He felt great going that direction,” Kiffin said. “It would have been a spark for us going into the locker room at halftime, but it hit the post.”
Instead, it led to three points for Houston. The Texans took over at the Oakland 46 and moved 24 yards drove for a 40-yard field goal by Kris Brown that made it 17-0 at halftime.
The Raiders ended an eight-quarter touchdown drought with an 85-yard drive in the fourth quarter that was aided by two personal foul penalties on third down. Justin Fargas, who finished with 104 yards rushing, capped the drive with a 1-yard run.
Houston CB Dunta Robinson was told he’ll miss the rest of the season after seriously injuring his right knee in a pileup with teammates in the first quarter. … The Raiders also lost their top cover CB when Nnamdi Asomugha went down with a left knee injury. He will undergo an MRI. … Former Raiders LB Danny Clark had an interception for Houston.