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Texans fall to Colts 31-27


Andre Johnson established a career high with 98 receiving yards in the first half.

The Texans suffered their second heartbreaking loss in as many weeks Sunday by falling to the Indianapolis Colts 31-27 in the regular season home opener at Reliant Stadium.

Holding a convincing 27-10 lead with 8:18 left in the game, the Texans saw their advantage evaporate after the Colts scored three touchdowns in a little more than two minutes.

In the fourth quarter, quarterback Sage Rosenfels fumbled twice to lead to two scores. Prior to that period, Rosenfels looked rock solid with a touchdown pass and no interceptions. His final pass of the game was picked off by Colts defensive back Melvin Bullitt, which gave Rosenfels three turnovers and sealed the win for Indianapolis to leave Houston with an 0-4 record.

"I've been doing (this) a long time, and I've never seen some crazy things happen in the last four minutes like that," coach Gary Kubiak said after the game. "But give them credit. They made some great plays and they found a way to win."

Just prior to the game, Rosenfels realized that he would start in place of quarterback Matt Schaub, who went to the hospital Saturday night with a stomach virus.

The loss overshadows a special performance from Andre Johnson, who had a career-high 98 receiving yards in the first half and finished with nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown.

Johnson shared the stage with running back Steve Slaton, who is on his way to his third consecutive nomination for NFL Rookie of the Week after gaining 93 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns.

Slaton's one-yard score off the left end with 8:18 remaining in the contest looked like it would seal the win before a couple bad bounces turned the momentum in the Colts' favor.

For guard Chester Pitts, who started his 100th game, the loss stings especially hard.

"We had it," Pitts said. "We played so well for what was it, three quarters and nine minutes? To have that one slip away like that, that's hard to swallow. I felt that I was so excited. I was so glad to kick their butts finally. We let it slip away at the end. You have to finish the game."

The Colts received the opening kickoff and got in scoring position after a six-yard run by running back Joseph Addai on fourth-and-one at the Houston 41. Later in the drive, linebacker Zac Diles stuffed Addai on third-and-one at the 26-yard line to force a 46-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.

{QUOTE}Later, in the Colts' second fourth-and-one attempt in as many drives, wide receiver Reggie Wayne caught a 36-yard pass to the Texans' nine-yard line. On third-and-goal at the one-yard line, Addai rushed for a touchdown off the left tackle to help make the score 10-0 with 2:16 left in the first quarter.

On his second series, Rosenfels completed all four of his pass attempts for 48 yards. After three rushes for 16 yards by Ahman Green, Slaton dove for a touchdown on second-and-goal at the one-yard line.

A sack for a five-yard loss by defensive end Mario Williams led to the Colts' first punt of the game early in the second quarter.

Johnson took over the next drive with a short catch for eight yards followed two plays later by a 39-yard reception to the Indianapolis 21. After Green stumbled for a short gain on a direct snap, Kris Brown booted a 37-yard field goal to tie the score 10-10 with 7:09 left in the first half.

On third-and-12 at the Houston 31, cornerback Jacques Reeves broke up a potential touchdown pass to Wayne, which led to a 49-yard field goal attempt that Vinatieri missed wide left.

After the two-minute warning, Rosenfels found Johnson for a 19-yard catch to the Colts' five-yard line. His five-yard touchdown pass to Johnson gave Houston a 17-10 lead after Brown's extra point.

With 21 second left before halftime, Diles picked off Manning's pass intended for tight end Dallas Clark at the Houston 37.

The Texans began their second series of the third quarter from their nine-yard line after the defense forced Indianapolis to punt for the second time of the game. Green had consecutive nine-yard carries to give Houston a first down at their 40-yard line. Following a 10-yard loss after Dwight Freeney sacked Rosenfels and forced a fumble, the Colts were penalized for defensive holding on third-and-17, giving Houston a first down near midfield.

Johnson made perhaps his best catch of the game on third-and-six at the Houston 50 when he hauled in a 19-yard pass and was hit immediately after the reception by linebacker Freddy Keiaho and safety Melvin Bullitt. Johnson left the game briefly after being shaken up on the play. Four plays later, Brown finished the season-long 15-play drive over 8:47 by converting a 43-yard field goal to extend Houston's lead to 20-10 with 21 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Texans' offense returned to the field early in the fourth quarter thanks to Williams' second sack of the game. He overpowered Addai to tackle Peyton Manning for a seven-yard loss on third-and-four from the Houston 50.

After a game-long 41-yard run by Slaton, Rosenfels connected with wide receiver Kevin Walter on a 27-yard play action pass to the Indianapolis 12. Slaton finished the possession with a one-yard touchdown run that gave Houston a 27-10 lead after Brown's extra point.

On fourth-and-six at the Texans' seven-yard line, Manning tossed a touchdown pass to tight end Tom Santi that cut Houston's lead to 27-17 with 4:04 left in the game.

Wide receiver David Anderson caught the ensuing onside kick at the Colts' 42-yard line, which was followed by the defining play of the game. On third-and-eight, Rosenfels scrambled to his left and soared over a defender as another player knocked the ball loose in the air. Linebacker Gary Brackett recovered the fumble and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown to make the score 27-24 with 3:54 left in the contest.

"You've just got to protect the ball right there and if you have to punt, you've got to punt," Kubiak said. "There was three minutes and whatever was left and they would have had no timeouts. You've just got to protect the ball there and play defense. "

On the next possession, Rosenfels was stripped from behind by defensive end Robert Mathis, who recovered the fumble at the Houston 21. After the two-minute warning, Wayne caught a five-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone that the officials reviewed. Once the play stood, Vinatieri's extra point gave Indianapolis a 31-27 lead.

On the Texans' final drive, Rosenfels completed consecutive passes to Johnson and Daniels for 21 yards before finding Walter for a nine-yard gain and a first down. His final pass attempt was picked off by Bullitt at the Indianapolis 25 with less than a minute on the game clock.

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