CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — On the opposite sideline, David Carr stood, barely moving. His former team looked nothing like it did during his five-year tenure.
With Matt Schaub throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns and backed up by an effective running game, the Houston Texans forced three turnovers and recovered from a sluggish start for a 34-21 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday to go 2-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Houston went 24-56 in its first five years with Carr, who was released in the offseason when the Texans traded for Schaub.
Carr, now the Panthers backup, could only watch as Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 120 yards and two scores, Ahman Green rushed for 71 yards and a TD and the Texans rallied from a 14-0 deficit. They handed the Panthers (1-1) their fourth consecutive loss in their home opener.
With Carolina fans booing by midway through the third quarter, Houston was enjoying its team-record fourth straight win dating to last season and looked ready to finally contend for a playoff berth in its sixth year.
The Panthers’ Steve Smith, who caught eight passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns, had little help. Jake Delhomme threw for 307 yards, but had an interception. DeShaun Foster lost a fumble.
A week after rushing for 186 yards in a win over St. Louis, the Panthers mustered only 76 yards on the ground. Texans rookie defensive tackle Amobi Okoye had two of Houston’s three sacks.
Things looked good early for Carolina, which hasn't won a home opener since 2003.
Delhomme and Smith connected on two first-quarter touchdown passes. Both times, Smith blew past DeMarcus Faggins.
But Schaub, acquired from Atlanta in the offseason, connected with Johnson on scoring passes of 31 and 9 yards. The first TD catch was the 19th of Johnson’s career, a team record. Houston led 17-14 by halftime.
The Texans took control from the mistake-prone Panthers in the third quarter.
Schaub, picking apart a thin secondary playing soft coverage, worked the Texans down the field before Green’s 13-yard TD run made it 24-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, Faggins redeemed himself, stripping returner Nick Goings, who had replaced ineffective rookie Ryne Robinson. The ball squirted into the end zone, where Kevin Walter pounced on it for a touchdown.
Dunta Robinson later intercepted Delhomme and Foster lost a fumble to end Carolina’s comeback hopes. Smith’s 74-yard touchdown catch — during which he broke two tackles and ran from one sideline to the other — cut the lead to 34-21 with 4:28 left.