The Houston Texans aren't just beating bad teams anymore. They've improved enough to hurt the ones with playoff aspirations - like the New York Giants.
The Texans used a trick play, a big punt return and two field goals by Kris Brown - the last one a 50-yarder with 6:57 to play - to defeat the Giants 16-14 Sunday.
Houston (3-8) beat Dallas to open the season and later defeated Jacksonville, but this was the Texans' first victory over a team that entered Sunday's games with a winning record.
The Giants (6-5) got a look at the new team in the Hall of Fame preseason game on Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio, and New York won 34-17. But the Texans weren't such an easy mark this time.
Trailing 14-13 after Kerry Collins threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer with 13:10 to play, the Texans drove 41 yards to the Giants 32-yard line, setting up Brown's game-winner.
Still, it took two late interceptions - by Matt Stevens with 5:57 to play and by Jeff Posey with 1:19 left - to preserve the Texans' victory, snapping a three-game losing streak and ending the Giants' three-game winning streak.
Posey's theft ended New York's next-to-last drive at the Texans 29. New York got the ball back with 22 seconds to play, but a long pass by Collins fell incomplete in the front part of the end zone as time expired.
After a dull first half that ended with the Giants leading 7-5, the Texans enlivened the game with a 39-yard punt return by Jermaine Lewis to the Giants 34, and another of the Texans' trick plays, setting up a 1-yard TD run by Jonathan Wells.
Facing third-and-6 from the New York 30 after the punt return, Carr lateraled across the field to James Allen, who threw the ball back to Carr, who had an open field and ran to the 2-yard line.
After Wells' touchdown, Carr passed to Allen for the 2-point conversion and a 13-7 lead. Allen eluded Giants linebacker Mike Barrow for the two points.
David Carr hit 10 of 23 passes for 103 yards. Collins finished 18-for-41 for 214 yards for the Giants.
A 70-yard run to the Texans 16-yard line by Tiki Barber, and Barber's 2-yard touchdown run, gave the Giants a 7-5 lead in a grueling first half that was filled with miscues.
Barber started to his right, reversed his field and broke free of Texans safety Marcus Coleman at the sideline and ran down to the Houston 16 before he was stopped by Coleman.
After Collins completed a 7-yard pass to Toomer, Barber ran three more times, bouncing into the end zone on the last carry.
The Texans had good field position in the first quarter, but all they could manage was a 40-yard field goal by Brown early in the second quarter in a laborious 53-yard drive that took 5:49.
The slow-paced game started with an offsides penalty against New York's Byron Frisch, and both teams lost fumbles early in the game.
Barber fumbled his first carry, and it was recovered by Houston linebacker Jamie Sharper at the Giants 27. After two incompletions by Carr, Allen fumbled at the Giants 24, and it was recovered by New York's Dhani Jones.
The Texans didn't convert their first third-down play until 2:20 remained in the first half. The Giants converted only one third down in the first half.
Houston got a safety in the second quarter when deep snapper Bob Jones sent the ball over punter Matt Allen's head. Allen chased the ball down and kicked it into his own end zone. He was penalized for illegally kicking the ball into the end zone, which the Texans declined and took the two points.