In the final home game of the season, Houston was unable to snap the season-long losing streak. The Texans fell 37-13 to the Denver Broncos in their 13th-consecutive loss. What began as a close game ended in a lopsided fourth-quarter when the Broncos scored 21 unanswered points.
"We played a bigger group against them because we didn't want them to run the football, which they really didn't run the football," interim head coach Wade Phillips said. "We wanted to force them to throw the ball and obviously they did that. You really have to get them into third downs. I thought we played really well on third down. But we just didn't get him into enough third downs."
History was made for both teams as Andre Johnson!(/team/roster/andre-johnson/7678fd27-7805-43d1-b038-76fc00bdfac7/ "Andre Johnson") recorded his 100th catch of the season in the first quarter, tying Wes Welker for most 100-reception seasons in NFL history (5). Peyton Manning broke Tom Brady's season-record with his 51st touchdown pass with his final score in the fourth quarter.
"I just told him congratulations on the record and I told him good luck, and he told me the same thing," Johnson said of his conversation with Manning after the game.
It was a slow start for Matt Schaub who made his return as starting quarterback for the first time since Week 6 against St. Louis. Schaub completed 18-of-37 passes for 176 yards for one touchdown and two interceptions.
"We were fortunate to be in a 10-6 ball game, 13-6 then to get to 16-13 we were fortunate
our defense was playing their tails off to keep us in that game while we were working our way through some things," Schaub said after the game. "We were right there until the third quarter but eventually they made some plays, some big plays, so that definitely puts some added pressure on you to try and make some plays."
In the first half, the Texans never trailed by more than ten points despite having just five first downs and just 83 yards of total offense. Houston cleaned up its mistakes from the previous weeks and had no penalties in the first half. Manning scored just one touchdown and had to settle for three field goals before halftime.
In the third quarter, Schaub threw his first and only touchdown of the game while the defense held Manning to just 38 yards and one first down. Houston trailed by just a field goal, 16-13, heading into the final quarter.
The game slipped away from the Texans in the fourth quarter in a lopsided finish. Schaub threw two interceptions and Manning added three touchdowns, including two to Eric Decker. Manning's final score was his 51st touchdown of the season, a 25-yard pass to Julius Thomas, breaking Tom Brady's single-season record.
"I really feel like it's a team accomplishment, certainly an offensive accomplishment," Manning said after the game. "But a lot of people played roles in this. I think it's a unique thing and neat thing to be a part of NFL history, even though it may be temporary."
Manning completed 32-of-51 passes for 400 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 113.2.
On Denver's first drive of the game, Trindon Holliday's 51-yard return was marred by a holding flag, negating his 51-yard return. Moreno added a 31-yard gain on the Broncos' first rushing attempt. Manning completed passes to five different receivers but Shiloh Keo's hit on Moreno on 3rd-and-3 was the final stop on the 78-yard drive. Matt Prater's 32-yard field goal put Denver on the board first with 8:50 left in the first quarter.
Matt Schaub started off with two-consecutive three-and-outs before the Texans offense scored. Randy Bullock kicked a 45-yard field goal to tie the score 3-3 with 2:02 remaining in the first quarter.
Peyton Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas on a 36-yard touchdown pass, following a 5-play, 64-yard drive. Denver regained the lead 10-3 early in the second quarter.
Denver punted just once in the second quarter. Keshawn Martin returned it for 51 yards to the Denver 28-yard line. The offense moved the ball just 10 yards following five consecutive plays to Dennis Johnson and one incomplete pass to Andre Johnson. Houston settled for its second field goal of the day, a 35-yarder by Bullock. Houston trailed 10-6 with 6:06 remaining in the second quarter.
Manning marched the Broncos offense down the field 69 yards and took several shots in the endzone but was shut down by Houston. Prater added a 25-yard kick to extend the Broncos' lead to a touchdown, 13-6.
With less than one minute remaining in the second quarter, Houston was held to a quick 3-and-out, giving Denver one last chance to score. Manning, using his final two timeouts, led the Broncos to his third drive ending in a field goal.
The Texans headed to the locker room, trailing 16-6 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Texans defense held Denver to two-consecutive 3-and-out drives while the offense cut the Broncos's lead to a field goal. Schaub scored the Texans' lone touchdown on a 15-yard pass to Martin. The Texans closed in on Denver, trailing 16-13 with 10:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Schaub's threw his first interception of the game early in the fourth quarter on a first down. His pass, intended for DeAndre Hopkins, was intercepted by Broncos safety Mike Adams. Two plays later, Manning found Eric Decker in the endzone on a 10-yard touchdown pass, extending the Broncos' lead to 23-13.
You're always playing against good players, guys that are good coaches," Denver Broncos head coach John Fox said. "I thought the turning point was the Mike Adams interception. It was a tremendous play over there on their bench. It was a three-point game, and you've got those plays in games. And I can go through any game this season and pick out that play. So, the good news is that it happened to be in our favor."
Houston was unable to stop Manning who added two more touchdowns and broke the all-time single season record, 50 touchdown passes, held by Tom Brady.
Manning tied the record with another score to Decker, a 20-yarder for his 50th touchdown this season and broke the record less than three minutes later. Julius Thomas caught Manning's 51st touchdown pass, and third of the final quarter. Denver led 37-13 with 4:28 left in the game.
"We had momentum coming out in the second half and we just couldn't get the job done," Shiloh Keo said. "We couldn't keep the foot down on the pedal. We allowed them to get a couple of big plays on us and it switched the momentum of the game."
Houston slipped even further when Schaub threw his second interception of the day on the following drive. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie caught the pick, intended for Andre Johnson.
"We played pretty darn well for about a half and a half of a quarter, or a half and a third of a quarter," J.J. Watt said after the game. "In the last part of the third quarter and the fourth quarter, we let it get away. We didn't play well and they made a lot of plays. It's very frustrating."
The Texans, unable to break the losing streak, fall to 2-13 on the season and will travel to Tennessee for the last game of the 2013 season.