Almost got it


While some doubted, others stood strong.

No doubt more than a few people, except for those in the Texans locker room, gave the team anything more than a chance at halftime of Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Houston was down 14-0 to the league's best offense at the half and slipped into a 21-point hole early in the third quarter. There were plenty of voices flying around the team's quarters in the bowls of Reliant Stadium.

It was a rough first half.

The Texans allowed 238 yards and held the ball for only 9:27 seconds in the first two quarters of play. Quarterback David Carr and the rest of the offense failed to get the ball past the Vikings 45 yard line.

Whatever was said in the locker room worked. The Texans rallied to tie the game, but lost 34-28 in overtime.

But they always stayed together.

"I think that we were all kind of disappointed in the way we played in the first half," center Steve McKinney said. "We weren't ever able to get into a rhythm. We weren't really moving the ball that effectively. We got pretty fired up at halftime and you know people were making some challenges and stuff.

"Coaches were yelling and players were yelling. It was a test of everyone in here's manhood to go out there in the second half and play better than we did in the first and I think we did that."

One player who certainly answered the call was Andre Johnson.

The Texans wide receiver is quiet by nature, but his performance in the second half had more than 70,000 people screaming.

The second-year pro caught a career-high 12 passes for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns and 115 receiving yards came in the second half.

"Andre gets better every week into the season," head coach Dom Capers said. "When you throw the ball his way, something good is going to happen. He had a tremendous game today."

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Several catches on Sunday could be considered highlight-worthy, including a touchdown grab that Carr chucked from his back foot.

Johnson split two defenders on that play, returning to the ball to catch it for a touchdown in the front corner of the end zone.

The first touchdown was even better. Johnson elevated into the air, caught the ball, was hit in the hip by a defender and flipped to the ground.

"Andre was phenomenal today," McKinney said. "Had we won, I'm sure he would have gotten the game ball."

As usual, Johnson was modest when asked about his performance, but optimistic about the team's abilities and turnaround.

"I'm just out there playing football," he said. "Opportunities came to me and I just made the best of them.

"We couldn't play two halves of football (last year). Right now we're doing that. The thing that's disappointing about this one is you battle back and tie the game and then lose it in overtime, that's the hurting thing about it."

The Texans fought to tie the game at 28 on a Derick Armstrong touchdown grab with two minutes left in the game. Armstrong also posted career-highs in catches and yards, grabbing six passes for 101 yards.

The Texans built the comeback through the air.

Carr threw for a career high 372 yards to go with his career-topping three touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to get over the hump in overtime. He was sacked on the Texans final offensive play, forcing a punt to the Vikings.

But the comeback itself was attention grabbing.

The defense settled down in the second half, forcing Minnesota to punt on four of its final five possessions. After a shaky start defending the run, the Texans kept Vikings running back Mewelde Moore to 90 rushing yards on the day.

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper threw for 396 yards, but only took one successful strike downfield to Randy Moss because of an aggressive Texans defense which chose not to abandon its game plan at half time.

As a result, Culpepper was sacked three times.

"It was big," linebacker Jay Foreman said of the comeback. "It was never a point where we felt like we were out of the game. We just had self induced mistakes. We knew in the second half we needed to execute better. Obviously, that's what we did. We knew if we started executing on defense our offense would eventually score points."

But in the end, it was too little too late for the Texans.

A 21-point halftime deficit was overcome, but painfully regained in overtime.

Acrobatic catches and defensive stands aside, this game will unfortunately for the Texans go down in history as the miraculous comeback that almost, but wasn't quite.

"We waited too long to start playing the way we know how to play," defensive end Robaire Smith said. "The way we've been playing the last two weeks … we waited until halftime to start the things we've normally been doing. Just like the first two games, we obviously beat ourselves by not coming out there and performing right off the jump."

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