HOUSTON-The outcome was up in the air until the final second ticked away. In the end, Houston fought tooth and nail for 60 minutes and came away with a 24-20 victory while 70,041 Texans fans made a joyful exodus to the Reliant Stadium parking lots to celebrate.
While the Texans entered today's contest looking for their first division win and first victory in front of a home Reliant Stadium crowd, the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars had some high expectations as well as they were hunting for win number one this season.
"I think you go on instincts. If we don't make that, you guys are asking me about it for the next year. I had a gut feeling," Capers said about making the final call.
After a gutsy coaching call, David Carr's winning quarterback sneak over the goal line sent the Texans into the bye week with a 2-2 record and a perfect 1-0 early mark in the AFC South division.
"I couldn't be prouder of our football team," head coach Dom Capers said. "We talked all week about the ability to go out and play for 60 minutes and I don't think we have had a greater example of that than we had today."
Along the way, Houston committed four turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions) while Jacksonville gave away the ball five times (two fumbles, three interceptions). Though the Texans came away with the win, Jacksonville accumulated more total yards with 342 compared to Houston's 339.
Houston didn't waste any time pumping up the crowd as an aggressive offense took the field, driving 69 yards to the end zone. Carr hit WR Andre Johnson for a 12-yarder to put the Texans on the 50. Soon after, he connected with FB Moran Norris on a six-yard strike to mark Morris' first career reception. Another Johnson catch set up RB Stacey Mack's five-yard scamper into the end zone to put the Texans ahead 7-0 just six minutes into the first quarter.
Mack found the end zone for the first time this season while the Texans' offense scored for the first time in 2003 on an opening drive. Though it was the fourth time in the club's short history to score on the opening drive, it was the first time since last season's opener against Dallas that the offense produced a touchdown.
Led by rookie QB Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville looked to even the score as they took their first offensive snap. Leftwich led his troops into the red zone after hitting WR J.J. Stokes on the sideline to set the offense at the Houston six yard line. Attempting a second fourth-down conversion on their opening drive, the Jaguars were called for a delay of game and opted for a 29-yard Seth Marler field goal to put the score at 7-3 still in favor of Houston. Texans CB Aaron Glenn left the series after spraining his groin.
WR Jabar Gaffney hauled in his first TD of the season.
The Texans offense continued their hot streak and extended their lead 14-3 after Carr found WR's Jabar Gaffney and Corey Bradford en route to the eight-play 53-yard scoring drive. Carr found an open Gaffney down the middle where he darted 24-yards into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season, second of his young career.
The Texans' defense defended their turf when they stopped the Jaguars on third-and-one. On the ensuing punt, Jacksonville cover man Jimmy Redmond was called for a 15-yard penalty when he pummeled Texans return man J.J. Moses after he motioned for a fair catch. But on the first snap of the drive, Jaguars LB Mike Peterson caused Mack to fumble the ball, giving Jacksonville possession on the Houston 48.
The turnover proved to be valuable, as Jacksonville was able to convert it into points. The seven-play, 48-yard drive was sealed by RB Fred Tayor, who ran into the end zone unscathed on a one-yard touchdown to put the score at 14-10 with Houston still on top.
The final two minutes of the half proved to be a ping-pong game of turnovers after a Carr pass was tipped by Jacksonville S Rashean Mathis. The ball landed in the hands of CB Fernando Bryant and the Jaguars took over at their own 33. But three plays later, Texans CB Kenny Wright stepped in front of a Leftwich pass, hawking his second career interception. Wright's last came during his rookie season in 1999 when he played in Minnesota.
"We were in man coverage and I knew they were going to try me since I was the nickel back and I was replacing a Pro Bowler (Aaron Glenn) who went down," Wright said.
But the Texans handed the ball back over to Jacksonville when RB Domanick Davis fumbled his reception, giving the Jaguars one last chance to light up the scoreboard before the end of the first half. Leftwich wasn't able to guide his troops into scoring range and threw up a final second hail mary that was intercepted by Texans CB Marcus Coleman, ending one half of play.
Both squads surrendered the ball three times, Jacksonville with two interceptions and a fumble while Houston fumbled twice with one Carr pick.
The Texans led both teams in first downs with 10 to the Jaguars eight and both were 100% on fourth down efficiency.
Houston controlled the clock holding on to the ball for 16:30 to Jacksonville's 13:30 time of possession.
The second half began right where the first left off when Taylor fumbled on the Jaguars' opening drive. Texans DE Jerry Deloach jumped on the loose ball and Houston was able to produce a field goal when Kris Brown split the uprights from 48 yards out to extend the Texans' lead 17-10.
Jacksonville's next trip downfield was cut short when Wright notched his second interception of the day after hauling in Leftwich's pass intended for Redmond. But the Texans' offense wasn't able to capitalize and punted the ball back into their own territory.
Leftwich soon found his target in newly signed receiver Troy Edwards, who took a beautiful one-handed grab 84 yards into the end zone to tie the score at 17. On just two plays, the Jaguars recorded the longest play from scrimmage in club history.
Houston was able to get into field goal range on the ensuing drive, but Brown's 50-yard attempt sailed wide right and Jacksonville took over. Houston's defense was able to hold off the Jaguars' offensive forces just two yards from the goal line and Jacksonville settled for a 20-yard Marler field goal to put them ahead 20-17.
Both defenses held strong into the fourth quarter and with seven minutes remaining, Carr began to march his unit downfield to take a late lead. Carr connected with receivers' Johnson and Gaffney to get the squad to the Jacksonville 25. The drive was short-lived though as Carr handed the ball off to Mack who in turn was intercepted by CB Jason Craft as he tried to complete a pass down the middle to Johnson.
Jacksonville took over with under four minutes remaining and began to wind the clock down in attempt to preserve their lead. But the Texans defense made sure their scoring unit had one last chance at a win as SS Eric Brown stripped the ball from a scrambling Leftwich. FS Matt Stevens dove onto the loose ball and the Texans offense took over at the Jacksonville 41.
RB Domanick Davis accounted for 37 of the team's 41 ground yards on the final drive.
Carr found an active target in Domanick Davis who carried the ball four times for 16 yards and collected 21 receiving yards on the drive. One offside and two pass interference penalties later, Houston found themselves on the one yard-line with just seconds remaining. Carr tried to hit Gaffney and Johnson in the end zone and with two seconds left, plunged himself into the end zone to give the Texans a thrilling 24-20 victory.
"When you're six inches away from the goal line, you can't give that up," Carr said. "I'd rather take my shot right there on the six-inch line. It was a great call by the coaching staff and I'm just glad that I got up with the touchdown."