Down 28-7 in the third quarter one could be forgiven for giving up on the Texans, even their own fans. But the Texans players never gave up on themselves as they mounted a huge comeback that was completed by second year placekicker RANDY BULLOCK, to pull out a 31-28 win over the San Diego Chargers on the road.
San Diego started off the scoring with a 14 yard PHILIP RIVERS (14 of 29 for 195 yards, 4 touchdown passes and 1 interception) wheel-route touchdown pass to running back RYAN MATHEWS for an eventual 7-0 lead. On the play, Mathews fought off Texans outside linebacker BROOKS REED at the HOU 15 yard line then ran past the defender, then he dove and caught Rivers’ pass near the 5 yard line and somehow had the fortitude and balance to actually get into the end zone.
Later in the quarter, Houston took over at their own 29. The drive was kept alive by tight end GARRETT GRAHAM who leaped into the air to catch quarterback MATT SCHAUB’S (34 of 45 for 346 yards, 3 touchdown passes and 1 interception) pass, and then he came down near the left sideline for a 12 yard gain at the HOU 34 where he was tackled by San Diego cornerback SHAREECE WRIGHT.
Then on 3rd and 5 from the HOU 34, running back ARIAN FOSTER executed a patient run up the middle to the 1 yard line. That play set up a Schaub play-action touchdown pass to tight end OWEN DANIELS (5 catches for 67 yards and 2 scores) who caught the ball in the back of the end zone versus a late arriving ERIC WEDDLE. The score was now knotted at 7-7 with 3:11 left in the first quarter.
San Diego took over at their own 20 yard line after the kickoff. Later in the drive and from the Chargers 38 yard line, Rivers threw a crossing pattern to tight end ANTONIO GATES who gained eight yards on the play. But the biggest play of the drive was a 4th and 1 Mathews run, in which he broke a J.J. WATT tackle near the line of scrimmage and then he traversed up the middle for 3 yards and a first down at the HOU 35.
The drive was further aided by a defensive pass interference call on Texans cornerback BRICE MCCAIN against Chargers receiver EDDIE ROYAL. This instance moved the ball to the HOU 6 yard line. On the next play, Rivers threw a left corner out-pattern completion to Royal in the end zone versus McCain for an eventual 14-7 advantage with 1:24 left in the first quarter.
On the Texans’ next drive which started at their own 16 yard line, Daniels secured a pass and ran 28 yards breaking tackles and showing extreme determination to get as many yards as he could. Daniels’ efforts on that play went for naught though, as Foster was hit then knocked down for no gain by defensive tackle KWAME GEATHERS and linebackers DONALD BUTLER and BRONT BIRD at the SD 27 yard line.
Later in the second quarter Schaub on 3rd and 5, threw a 27 yard completion to receiver ANDRE JOHNSON (12 catches for 146 yards and no scores) that the latter took all the way to the SD 40 yard line. This drive was later kept alive courtesy of a holding penalty versus San Diego cornerback RICHARD MARSHALL. But the drive officially withered away due to a Schaub 3rd and 11 incompletion to Daniels down field versus Weddle. Bullock on 4th down missed a 51 yard field goal that sailed to the left of the goal posts.
With around 1:14 left in the first half, Rivers fired a pass to Gates for a 34 yard gain to the HOU 5 yard line. Gates’ huge reception set up a Rivers 10 yard touchdown strike to receiver VINCENT BROWN, who sped down the left sideline and then leapt into the left corner of the end zone despite Texans cornerback JONATHAN JOSEPH trying his best to shove him out of bounds. The score was now 21-7 Chargers.
With 4:57 left in the third quarter and down 28-7, Schaub with excellent protection from center CHRIS MYERS, threw to Graham—who was double covered by cornerback DEREK COX and Bird—and the tight end angled into the end zone to put his team down by two touchdowns at 28-14.
Early in the fourth quarter, Houston took over on their own 25 yard line. Rookie receiver DEANDRE HOPKINS (5 catches for 66 yards on the night) showed why he was taken in the first round because of his efforts on this drive for the Texans. He caught 2 passes for 43 yards on this momentum swinging drive. And his catches helped set up a Daniels 9 yard touchdown reception to put the score at 28-21 with 14:44 left in the game.
Later in the fourth quarter and on 4th and 1, Texans safety SHILOH KEO sneakily ran up the middle for 6 yards to complete a fake punt. But his efforts were later wasted due a 3rd and 15 dropped pass by Foster which forced a punt.
But all was not lost for the Texans, as inside linebacker BRIAN CUSHING made the play of the game for them. Rivers fired a pass to his right that ended up in the hands of Cushing who dove for the ball and then fell down, but he quickly got to his feet and hustled 18 yards to the end zone to help his team secure at 28-28 tie.
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