KANSAS CITY, Mo.-- The Texans were all but buried. Maybe twice.
Staring down an 0-3 start to the 2004 season on the road in Kansas City, Houston battled back to pull a stunning 24-21 win Sunday before an exasperated sea of red 77,433 strong.
The Texans improved to 1-2, while the Chiefs dropped to 0-3 for the first time in nearly a quarter-century.
Kris Brown nailed a 49-yard field goal with two seconds remaining for the game's final margin. The Texans had tied the game twice before, first on a 102-yard interception return for a touchdown by free safety Marcus Coleman and later on a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Carr to wide receiver Jabar Gaffney.
The Texans were outgained by 68 yards, held a 10-minute disadvantage in time of possession, yielded three touchdown passes and allowed Chiefs running back Priest Holmes to rush for 128 yards. But Houston made the plays when it counted and the result was one of the most satisfying wins in the club's three-year history.
The Texans marched into Chiefs territory on their opening possession, aided by a defensive holding call on Chiefs cornerback Dexter McCleon on 3rd and 3. One snap later, quarterback Carr threw incomplete to tight end Mark Bruener, but Chiefs safety Shaunard Harris was flagged for unnecessary roughness, moving the ball to the Kansas City 28.
Carr eluded the pocket two plays later for a 12-yard gain to the Chiefs 14. But on 3rd and 6, Carr floated a ball into the end zone that Chiefs cornerback Eric Warfield picked off. Warfield had two interceptions last week against the Panthers.
Kansas City's offense went right to work. Chiefs wide receiver Dante Hall gained 17 yards on a reverse and Holmes, who was listed as questionable all week with an ankle injury, rushed for 19 yards on his first two totes. Just like that, the Chiefs were at the Texans 44.
Later in the drive, Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez caught a pass from quarterback Trent Green in the back of the end zone but was only able to get one foot down. But on the next snap, Gonzalez beat cornerback Aaron Glenn, cradling a 14-yard touchdown pass from Green before strong safety Glenn Earl could get over to help. The Chiefs led 7-0.
The Texans went three-and-out on their next possession and Kansas City responded in kind. Houston went backwards on its next offensive series, thanks to a holding penalty on left tackle Seth Wand and an intentional grounding call on Carr. The latter was the eighth penalty of the first quarter -- five by the Chiefs and three by the Texans.
Kansas City couldn't score but downed a punt at the Texans 2. Carr completed his first pass of the day to running back Domanick Davis for 15 yards to give Houston some breathing room.
That seemed to give Carr some confidence. He hit wide receiver Andre Johnson for 12 yards and then lofted a 46-yard completion to Johnson to the Chiefs 25. Johnson was shaken up on the landing but would return.
The Texans got one more first down but the drive stalled at the 10-yard line. Kris Brown trotted out and booted a 28-yard field goal, his seventh consecutive make.
But the Chiefs found their groove on the next drive, riding Holmes and Gonzalez. Holmes rushed for 23 yards and Gonzalez caught two passes for 29 yards to get Kansas City down to the Texans 6 at the two-minute warning. There the Chiefs faced a 4th and 2. They went for it, running Holmes to the left side, but the Texans strung the play out and nose tackle Seth Payne made the tackle short of the marker.
That stop ended a streak of 64 consecutive red zone possessions in which the Chiefs had scored.
The Texans seemed content to run out the clock but running back Jonathan Wells gained 21 yards on two consecutive carries and Carr hit tight end Billy Miller for 15 yards to push the ball to the 41-yard line with 1:23 left in the half. After Chiefs linebacker Scott Fujita sacked Carr for a six-yard loss, the quarterback found Miller again for a 21-yard gain to the Chiefs 41. The Texans called their final timeout with 31 seconds left.
Two plays later, Chiefs defensive end Gary Sills was flagged for roughing Carr, pushing the ball to the 26-yard line with 19 seconds remaining. The Texans took a delay of game penalty before Brown nailed a 49-yard field goal to trim the lead to a point.
Hall opened the second half with a 45-yard kickoff return, putting the ball at the Texans 48. The Chiefs took advantage, marching to the end zone in eight plays. Green capped the drive with an six-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Chris Horn, whom Kansas City signed yesterday.
Houston was unable to generate any offense on the ensuing possession as Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen sacked Carr to force a punt.
The Chiefs marched all the way down to the Texans 2 on their next drive and were poised to put the game away. Houston's defense needed a big play Coleman delivered.
Coleman picked off Green in the end zone and raced 102 yards to the end zone for the longest touchdown in team history. Wells raced around the left side for a two-point conversion. Suddenly, the game was tied.
Houston's defense had to go back on the field but the Texans held as defensive end Robaire Smith batted a pass down on 3rd and 9 at the Houston 49. Coleman strained an abdominal muscle on the previous play.
The Texans couldn't get a first down, capping a quarter in which Kansas City held the ball for 13:21. The Chiefs got the ball back at their own 46 and Holmes rushed for 18 yards before garnering a 15-yard facemask penalty on defensive end Gary Walker. Just like that, Kansas City had the ball at the Texans 21.
Green completed a nine-yard pass to wide receiver Johnnie Morton on 3rd and 4 from the 14-yard line. Three plays later, Green dumped a pass off to tight end Jason Dunn and the Chiefs were back up by a touchdown.
Houston again couldn't get a first down but safety Jason Simmons sneaked the ball across the marker on 4th and 1 in punt formation. Then on 3rd and 17, Carr threw a bullet to wide receiver Derick Armstrong for 20 yards.
Carr then lofted another long toss to Johnson, who made an incredible juggling catch for 38 yards down to the Chiefs 7. Kansas City challenged but the play was upheld.
Two plays later, Carr threw a soft scoring pass to wide receiver Gaffney for a nine-yard touchdown. Houston had tied the score again with 5:20 remaining.
On Kansas City's first ensuing snap, linebacker Antwan Peek sacked Green for a 10-yard loss. But Green scrambled around and hit Gonzalez for a 20-yard gain. But back came Peek, who corralled Green again before cornerback Kenny Wright came in to finish off the sack. The Texans got the ball back at their own 27 with 2:18 remaining.
After Wells picked up a first down on a dump-off toss, Carr fired a bullet to Armstrong, who raced 35 yards to the Chiefs 30. The Texans ran the clock down to the seven-second mark and out came Brown.
He nailed the field goal, his ninth consecutive make and his eighth career game-winner. After two disheartening wins to open the season, the Texans now have new life, tied with Tennessee at 1-2.