After winning a highly-anticipated defensive slugfest last week at Chicago, the Texans won an unexpected shootout at Reliant Stadium on Sunday.
Behind historic days from quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson, the Texans (9-1) overcame a 34-20 fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) 43-37 in overtime. The game ended with 2:01 left in overtime on a 48-yard touchdown catch by Johnson.
"Obviously, we struggled today," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said after the exhilirating game. "We gave up a lot of big plays defensively, we turned the ball over offensively, but we kept battling and found a way to win a game another way. I talk about that all the time, being able to win in different ways. Great job offensively and big stop by the defense there in overtime, and tremendous play by our quarterback and probably as a good a day as I've even seen by a wide receiver. As a matter of fact, I know it is."
Johnson set franchise records with 14 catches for 273 yards, the ninth-most in a game in NFL history. Schaub threw for 527 yards, tying Hall of Famer Warren Moon for the second-most in NFL history, and a franchise-record five touchdowns.
Tight end Garrett Graham caught two touchdown passes in the final 5:39 of regulation to tie the game 34-34. Both teams scored field goals on their first possession of overtime, bringing on sudden death. Schaub was then picked off by Derek Cox, giving the Jaguars possession at the Houston 47-yard line. but the Texans' defense gave up zero yards on the next four plays to force a turnover on downs.
Johnson scored two plays later, catching a screen pass on the right side and dashing untouched to the north end zone before leaping into the arms of delirious fans in the front row.
"When I caught the ball and I saw how open I was, I was just looking around like, 'Where are the defenders?'" Johnson said. "I took off running and I kept looking, and I thought the cornerback would come from the outside, but he wasn't there. It was just the safety left, so I was just saying to myself, 'I can't let him tackle me.'"
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert was knocked out of the game on the Jaguars' first possession on a sack from safety Danieal Manning that forced a fumble recovered by linebacker Tim Dobbins. Backup Chad Henne came in and threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns (126.8 rating) on 16-of-33 passing against the Texans' defense, which had allowed just one touchdown in its three previous games.
"It's funny when you prepare for a certain quarterback," Manning said. "We played against Henne when he was in Miami, but now he has more weapons, and he came out ready to play."
Jaguars rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon had 236 yards and a touchdown on seven catches, marking the first time in NFL history that two receivers had 200 yards in a single game. The Blackmon scored on an 81-yard touchdown and also had a 63-yard cach. The Texans allowed a 67-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, who bounced off a tackle and evaded another as he raced to the end zone.
"Jacksonville came to play," said cornerback Kareem Jackson, who was beaten on a couple of long passes. "We weren't able to tackle and get them down early, and they were able to his us with three big plays. It was all self-inflicted wounds."
The Texans raced out to a 7-0 lead with a five-play, 84-yard drive on the game's opening possession. Schaub threw three passes to Johnson for 73 yards on the first three plays, then found rookie wide receiver Keshawn Martin for a nine-yard touchdown two plays later.
After Manning knocked Gabbert out of the game on the ensuing series, it looked like a rout might be on. But the Texans were unable to convert another first down until after the Jaguars had tied the game 7-7 with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Henne to tight end Marcedes Lewis late in the first quarter.
The Jaguars went up 14-7 on Shorts' long touchdown catch early in the second quarter. The Texans responded with a leaping one-yard touchdown catch by fullback James Casey. The teams then traded field goals to make the score 17-17. That was the halftime score after Texans kicker Shayne Graham missed a 50-yard field goal off the left upright as time expired in the second quarter.
Jacksonville took back the lead with a 40-yard field goal on the first drive of the third quarter. Three plays later, running back Arian Foster fumbled for the first time all season after reversing the field on a rushing attempt on third-and-17. The Jaguars recovered the fumble at the Texans' 11-yard line and scored on a one-yard touchdown catch by Lewis five plays later.
The Texans cut the deficit to 27-20 on the next possession with a 27-yard field goal by Graham. Kubiak opted for three points on the drive instead of trying to convert on fourth-and-one from the Jacksonville 9.
The Texans' defense got the ball back in short order, and the Texans were in prime position to score after a 71-yard punt return by Martin to the 23-yard line. Schaub was picked off two plays later inside the red zone. Henne connected with Blackmon for an 81-yard touchdown three plays later on third-and-21 to put the Texans behidn 34-20 with 12:33 remaining in the game.
Schaub then led a 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive to bring the Texans to within seven points with 5:39 to go. The Texans' defense forced a three-and-out, and Schaub directed an eight-play, 90-yard drive in just 2:18 to tie the game on his second touchdown pass to Graham with 1:34 remaining.
The Jaguars went three-and-out again, giving the Texans the ball back at their own 35 with 1:07 left. Schaub lofted a beautiful 35-yard pass to Johnson on the very next play, setting the Texans up for a last-second field goal try. Graham made a 42-yard attempt that would have won the game, but the play was nullified by a false start on guard Antoine Caldwell. On the re-kick from 47, Graham hooked the kick far to the left to send the game to overtime.
The Texans are now 3-0 against the AFC South this season, having swept the Jaguars for the second consecutive year. They will face the Detroit Lions next on Thanksgiving Day.