Outside linebacker Bryan Braman made a pivotal play on Sunday's 29-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, blocking a punt and recovering it for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
It was Braman's second blocked punt of the season, a new team record. The first occurred on Oct. 14 against Green Bay. This one helped spark the Texans at a stagnant point in the game. The Texans' offense had scored just three points in the first 13 minutes of the second quarter before Braman swatted down Pat McAfee's punt, recovered the ball and dove into the end zone, untouched by the opposing team.
"I just went out there, and I could kind of see it in his eyes," Braman said. "The personal protector had said something to him and he kind of had jittery feet. They were a little heavy. I was able to come up inside and block the punt. It took me awhile to find out where it was – it kind of fell in my hands. I thought I was closer to the end zone. I tripped up and I was lucky enough to make it across the goal line."
The score was reviewed to determine whether Braman was down by contact, but the play was upheld after review. It was a turning point in the game and a momentum-booster heading into the locker room at halftime.
Braman has gotten a few reps on defense in the last few weeks with Brooks Reed out because of a groin injury, but he has made a significant contribution on special teams all season long. He entered the game tied for the team lead and tied for seventh in the NFL with 13 special teams tackles.
"That guy's an animal," said defensive end Antonio Smith. "He's been an animal all year, people are just now realizing he's double teamed on every special team and still dominates. i've seen him beat the edge all year long and I said, 'One day it's going to come free for you and you're going to block it,' but to block it and the ball to just miraculously bonce in your other hand and score a touchdown, it's a humongous play and it ignited the stadium."
The touchdown was one of only two scored by the Texans, who were held to five field goals by the Colts defense. Braman received a game ball from coach Gary Kubiak along with special teams coordinator Joe Marciano and Texans chairman and CEO Bob McNair.
"(Kubiak) doesn't hand out a game ball every game," Braman said. "For me to be able to receive one means a lot. It's definitely a big thing."