By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON -- Mario Williams dragged down Jay Cutler for the third time, jumped up and sashayed like a hula dancer.
Last year's No. 1 pick had a career-high 3 1/2 sacks to lead the Houston Texans to a 31-13 victory over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.
With its seventh of the season, Houston tied the franchise record for victories.
Texans (7-7) fans yelled "overrated" when Williams was picked, but chanted his name Thursday as he posed Superman-like with his hands on his hips for several seconds after he took Cutler down for the second time.
Williams performance made him Houston's career sack leader with 17 1/2. He's had a sack in a team-record five straight games and has 13 for the season and nine in the last five games.
His sack of Cutler forced a fourth down and the Broncos went for it, but the pass fell short, giving Houston the ball.
Ron Dayne, who didn't start because of a sore ankle, scored on a 6-yard run on the ensuing drive to push Houston's lead to 17-6. The Texans all seemed amped up for the their first prime time game since 2005 and their first game with the roof open this season.
The normally subdued Dayne, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1999, celebrated his touchdown by striking the Heisman pose. He had 11 carries for 67 yards.
Denver (6-8) got its second straight big game from receiver Brandon Marshall, who finished with 11 receptions for 107 yards.
In the first regular-season meeting between Houston coach Gary Kubiak and Denver's Mike Shanahan, it was the protege who outdid his mentor. Kubiak was Shanahan's offensive coordinator for 11 seasons in Denver.
Andre Johnson had a 4-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter for his career-high seventh touchdown of the season. He finished with six receptions for 86 yards.
Williams third sack of Cutler forced the Broncos to punt and the Texans stretched the lead to 31-13 when Vonta Leach scored on a 1-yard run with 3:20 remaining.
Tony Scheffler caught a short pass from Cutler and leaped for a touchdown in the final minute of the third quarter for Denver to make it 17-13. Scheffler was upended at the goal line by Houston cornerback Von Hutchins and fumbled as he came down.
Officials ruled Scheffler broke the plane of the goal line before Hutchins hit him, but Kubiak challenged the call. After review, the play stood.
Cutler was 27-of-39 for 254 yards with one touchdown and was sacked five times.
Houston got a 41-yard field goal by Kris Brown midway through the second quarter. Andre' Davis opened that drive with a 50 yard kickoff return and a 20-yard reception.
The Broncos got to the Houston 13 early in the second quarter, but a penalty and a pass for a loss of 5 yards forced 3rd-and-20. Will Demps knocked Cutler's pass down in the end zone and Denver settled for a 41-yard field goal by Jason Elam that made it 7-3.
Sage Rosenfels put the Texans ahead early when he capped a 69-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run on the opening drive. Rosenfels, who started his second straight game in place of the injured Matt Schaub, was 16-of-27 for 200 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Elam had a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter.