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The comeback kid, almost


Sage Rosenfels' four fourth quarter touchdowns ties an NFL record for most touchdowns in a fourth quarter.

For three quarters, Houston couldn't do anything right. Then, for one glorious period, backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels and the Texans almost pulled off a miraculous comeback.

Rosenfels threw four fourth quarter touchdown passes that put the Texans ahead 36-35 with 57 seconds to play. Unfortunately, that was just enough time for the Titans to get within range for Rob Bironas' NFL record eighth field goal for a 38-36 victory.

At least the Texans have the fourth quarter.

"It upsets offensive players when you look up at the scoreboard and their team's got 250 yards of offense and we've got 30," Rosenfels said. "If that doesn't upset you as a player, you can't play this game. We were very upset about it and the nice thing is we did do something about it."

Trailing 32-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Texans finally got their offense moving after being battered through the first three quarters by the Titans' defense. Starting quarterback Matt Schaub spent much of the game on the sidelines with hip and ankle injuries.

"We have a lot of pride in our team and our offense and we played so poorly through three quarters that we didn't want to finish up that way," Rosenfels said. "We know that we wanted to finish the game on scoring some points."

{QUOTE}Rosenfels, in his most extensive playing time this season, completed 22 of 35 passes for 290 yards. In addition to his touchdown passes, he had three interceptions.

"You never know what can happen in an NFL game," Rosenfels said. "The guys just kept fighting, kept battling. We made some plays. You're down by 16 in this league with a few minutes left in the game, you have a chance.

"I think it shows the character of this team. But of all the great things in the fourth quarter, we've got to look at all the poor play, especially me, turning the ball over like I did in the first three quarters."

Texans coach Gary Kubiak blamed himself for the Texans' game plan.

"We didn't do much until the fourth quarter," Kubiak said. "He (Rosenfels) kept battling. He's got some plays that he should've had back. But he gave us a chance to win too."

Kubiak said part of the Texans' offensive problems had to do with the Titans' defense.

"They brought some blitzes that we hadn't seen them bring," Kubiak said. "But in the NFL, to bring four strong and four weak is something that you see, so you just go adjust.

"I told my team I was proud of their effort. I told my team that I did a poor job at having the offense ready to play. That's my job and I did a horrible job at that. By the time we adjusted, it was too little too late."

The Titans led 22-7 at the half and had dominated the game. Houston ran 20 offensive plays and had 24 yards to show for it. The Titans, with starting quarterback Vince Young sidelined, produced 233 yards with Kerry Collins at quarterback over the first two periods.

It was late in the third quarter before the Texans got their third first down of the game. Then, Rosenfels and the Texans started waking up.

"I started getting in that groove, getting warmed up," Rosenfels said. "I've run a million two-minute drills in my life. I've always been pretty good at them, if you talk to any of my previous coaches. The game slows down for me, unlike for some other guys."

A few positive drives got the Texans going.

"You start by getting first downs," Rosenfels said. "Then you start getting confidence and then things snowball from there. After that it was like, 'What have we been doing the first three quarters?' We have playmakers. The more opportunities they get, the more they're going to make big plays."

Rosenfels' four fourth quarter touchdowns ties an NFL record for most touchdowns in a fourth quarter.

"The only chance we had to come back was for our offense to make great plays quickly and execute and for our defense to keep stopping them," Rosenfels said. "They did that and held them to field goals. We turned the ball over a lot and it seemed most of those they held them to field goals."

The Texans were forced to abandon their game plan by halftime.

"We had to get out of our game plan, and our game plan was not going to work against what they were doing, so we had to go adjust," Kubiak said.

"We put in some new stuff at halftime that gives you a chance to pick up some of the blitzes they had. They had not been blitzing that much, and it's a great job on their part as coaches."

David Anderson caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Rosenfels to start the fourth quarter charge. Kevin Walter, Jeb Putzier and André Davis also had fourth quarter touchdown catches.

Walter didn't have a catch until the second half and finished with six catches for 97 yards. Davis made an outstanding 53-yard touchdown catch in the end zone that gave the Texans their only lead of the second half.

It was all too brief.

"I'm proud of their efforts that we gave ourselves a chance to win, but I'm just very disappointed in this guy you're looking at right here," Kubiak said. "For us to go out there and play offensively that way for that long, there's no excuse. That's my job."

Still, the fourth quarter was impressive. Their touchdown drives went for 70, 98, 75 and 66 yards.

"To have six turnovers and have the lead with 50 seconds left, I've never been a part of that," Kubiak said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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