MIAMI-- For the second consecutive opening Sunday, the Texans have stunned the NFL.
Last year, Houston opened its inaugural season with a 19-10 win over Dallas at Reliant Stadium. But today's victory was so much more impressive and so much more improbable.
"What a great win," head coach Dom Capers said. "I'm really proud of the way we hung in there and found a way to make the plays at the end."
The Texans (1-0) gained 393 total yards, setting a club mark. Quarterback David Carr threw for 266 yards (one off his career high) and hit wide receiver Corey Bradford on a team-record 78-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
Wide receiver Andre Johnson caught six passes for 76 yards in his debut and running back Stacey Mack gained 89 yards -- 20 more than Dolphins running back Ricky Williams. The offensive line didn't yield a single sack.
That's right -- no sacks against one of the league's top defenses. And no turnovers, either.
The Texans' defense not only held Williams in check, it forced two turnovers, the last an interception by cornerback Marcus Coleman that set up Brown's game-winner.
The Texans' first drive went backwards as a completion from Carr to Johnson was negated by a face mask penalty on guard Milford Brown. After a punt, the Dolphins took over at their own 33.
Then Houston's defense flexed its muscle. Linebacker Kailee Wong made a huge play on Williams, dragging him down on a screen pass for a five-yard loss. And the Texans' defensive front got significant pressure on Dolphins quarterback Jay Fielder, who nearly got picked off by cornerback Kenny Wright.
The Texans got the ball back at their 18 and running back Stacey Mack gave his unit a little breathing room with a 13-yard scamper. Three plays later, Carr hit wide receiver Jabar Gaffney for 29 yards, though left tackle Chester Pitts was hit with a 15-yard penalty for taking off his helmet.
Miami's defense stiffened and Houston settled for a 36-yard field goal by Brown, giving the Texans a 3-0 with 5:10 left in the opening quarter. Brown has now scored in 48 consecutive games.
The Texans defense held and Houston got the ball at its 42. Mack gained 12 yards into Miami territory. But the Texans committed two consecutive false starts (Greg Randall, Pitts) before Johnson snagged his first career reception for six yards, leaving Houston seven yards short of a first down.
Cornerback Darrick Vaughn downed Chad Stanley's punt at the Miami 4. Linebacker Jay Foreman sacked Fiedler on 3rd and 3 and Dolphins punter Mark Royals shanked his punt 24 yards, setting the Texans up at the Miami 32. Foreman hadn't had a sack since his days with the Bills (10/18/01).
But Mack couldn't pick up a first down on 3rd and 2 and Brown missed a 43-yard field goal to keep Miami within three points.
Two series later, the Dolphins' offense finally clicked into gear as Fiedler hit a wide open Chambers on the right sideline. Free safety Matt Stevens missed a tackle and Chambers waltzed 57 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.
The Texans stalled on their next possession but on the Dolphins' next play, Williams fumbled and linebacker Charlie Clemons recovered it at the Texans 49. A 15-yard penalty pushed the ball to the Dolphins 36. Houston couldn't gain a first down but Brown split the uprights with a 50-yarder to cut the lead to one. The kick was Brown's seventh career 50-plus-yard kick.
But Fiedler had found his groove by the second quarter and he methodically marched the Dolphins down the field with a flurry of short completions. From the Texans 21, Fiedler rolled to his right and lofted a pass to Chambers, who hauled the ball in and got both feet down inbounds. Miami had an eight-point lead.
Carr got the Texans into Dolphins territory in the final minute of the half but Brown missed a 54-yard field goal as time expired.
The Texans went for two to tie the score but Mack fell just short of the goal line and Houston still trailed 14-12.
Houston got the ball right back and Carr hit Johnson down the left sideline for 28 yards to the Dolphins 18. Then rookie running back Domanick Davis gained 15 yards on second career carry, shedding Dolphins linebackers Junior Seau and Zach Thomas to the Miami 5.
On 3rd and goal, Carr lofted a pass to tight end Billy Miller, but Dolphins safety Arturo Freeman knocked it loose and the Texans settled for a 23-yard field goal to take a 15-14 lead.
But the Dolphins answered as Fiedler found Williams in the flat and Williams rushed right through Stevens to the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown. Miami's two-point conversion failed and the Dolphins led 20-15 with 12:24 left.
Carr answered right back, finding Johnson for 17 yards, Miller for nine, Gaffney for 11 yards and Johnson again for 12 yards -- the last two on lengthy third downs.
The Texans were then aided on a 15-yard face mask penalty on Dolphins safety Sammy Knight, who grabbed Johnson as the two were going out of bounds. That moved the ball to the Dolphins 8. But Carr's pass to Miller on 3rd and goal fell incomplete and Brown's 24-yard field goal cut the lead to 20-18.
The Dolphins got the ball back but Fiedler lofted a pass to Dolphins wide receiver Derrius Thompson and Coleman pounced on it, returning the theft to the Dolphins 36. Mack gained 10 yards on 3rd and 6 to get the Texans to the 22-yard line. And the Dolphins had used up all three of their timeouts so the clock was running.
The Texans used their final timeout with 25 seconds left and Brown nailed a 35-yarder -- his seventh career game-winner and third with Houston.