HOUSTON, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Kris Brown kicked a 50-yard field goal with 6:57 Sunday and the Houston Texans won the battle of special teams to defeat the New York Giants, 16-14.
In a symbol of the Giants' problems in the kicking game, they did not even attempt to block Brown's game-winning kick -- apparently thinking it was a fake.
"It makes it tough right now," Giants Coach Jim Fassel said. "But there's a lot of divisions that are really close. If we roll a few wins off, we'll be OK."
The loss pushed the Giants (6-5) further behind first-place Philadelphia (7-3) in the NFC East. The Eagles play at San Francisco on Monday night.
Owning a 7-3 lead with 26 seconds left in the first half, the Giants lined up to punt from their own 41, but long snapper Bob Jones sent the ball well over punter Matt Allen's head.
Allen chased after the ball, but was forced to kick it out of the end zone and concede a safety rather than allow the Texans the chance for an easy touchdown.
When Houston did score a touchdown on Jonathan Wells' one-yard run, it came after Jermaine Lewis slashed his way through New York's punt coverage for a 39-yard return to the Giants' 34. Rookie kicker Matt Bryant also missed a 33-yard field goal in the third quarter that could have provided the decisive points for New York.
"We gave up five points with our special teams," Fassel said. "We had the safety and we missed a field goal we should have made. I'm not happy with that."
Bryant thought that he had made the field goal.
"I knew it was close," Bryant said. "But I thought it squeaked through. I wish they had a camera by the upright."
Still, the Giants led 14-13 after Amani Toomer caught a 31-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. Toomer caught eight passes for 113 yards to help lead the New York offense, along with Tiki Barber, who rushed 19 times for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Quarterback Kerry Collins threw two interceptions in the final six minutes to seemingly erase any hope of a comeback. The Giants got still another chance when the Texans could not run out the clock, but Collins' desparation pass was batted down in the end zone.
"I'm not embarrassed to lose to an expansion team, but it was embarrassing the way we played," Collins said. "This loss is going to stay with us for awhile. We didn't play well enough to win. Offensively, we didn't play well the whole game."
Collins completed 18 of 41 passes for 241 yards and had trouble finding targets other than Toomer. Barber caught four passes and rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey also caught four, Collins' only other completions went to wide receiver Daryl Jones and tight end Dan Campbell.
"Offensively, we made too many mistakes," said Fassel, who took over New York's play-calling responsibilities from offensive coordinator Sean Payton after the Giants' 17-3 loss at Philadelphia on Oct. 28.
Houston quarterback David Carr was 10 of 23 for 103 yards and rushed six times for 54. Wells carried 24 times for 68 yards.
"That game was what I call a leather-helmet game, where you just try to advance the ball up the field and put points on the board as best you can," Carr said. "It was definitely ugly, but I thought tonight we played a complete game.
New York outgained Houston 368-212, but was hampered by penalties. Seven of the Giants' nine infractions were committed by the offensive line.