Texans turn corner in comeback win in Washington
The Houston Texans have a history of blown leads and
heartbreaking losses. Coach Gary Kubiak thinks they may have
finally blossomed into a team that wins those kinds of games.
The Texans (2-0) rallied from 17 points down in the second half
to beat Washington 30-27 on Sunday, an improbable victory that
previous Houston teams would not have pulled off.
All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson said during training camp that he
sensed a more confident, determined vibe from these Texans and so
far it’s shown with two breakthrough wins to start the season: They
snapped a six-game losing streak to Peyton Manning and the Colts in
the opener and earned the franchise’s first overtime win in
electrifying fashion on Sunday.
Houston plays Dallas (0-2) this week, another chance for a
meaningful victory. While the Cowboys are reeling, the Texans are
2-0 for the second time in nine seasons and have won six straight
games dating to last year – the franchise’s longest victory
”We’ve matured, we’ve grown up,” Kubiak said Monday. ”We’ve
come to expect to play in great football games, and get in them,
and be willing to make the play and be the difference maker.”
Kubiak, in his fifth season, witnessed his team’s resolve again
after the Texans fell behind the Redskins 20-7 at halftime. He said
the players and coaches vented some frustration in the locker room,
then quickly regained their focus.
”There were a lot of disappointed people,” Kubiak said. ”But
yet, once that was over, there was a calm about, ‘Hey, we’re 13
points down. Let’s go win a half of football.’
”It wasn’t like we took any frustration or panic to the field
in the second half,” he said. ”Once we got our frustrations out
of the way, and the talking was done, we said, ‘Let’s go play a
good half of football and see what happens.”’
About 10 months ago, Kubiak was answering questions about his
job security after the Texans slipped to 5-7. He was criticized for
signing off on a halfback pass from the 5-yard line that was
intercepted late in a 23-18 loss at Jacksonville.
That followed back-to-back 20-17 losses to Tennessee and
Indianapolis in which Kris Brown missed last-second field goals,
and another loss to the Colts in which Houston blew a 17-0
On Sunday, it was the Texans mounting the comeback, their coach
making the right call on a tough decision and their kicker booting
the game winner.
Houston won the coin flip for the overtime kickoff, took the
ball and drove to the Redskins’ 34. Kubiak felt a stiff breeze
facing kicker Neil Rackers, so he opted to punt and put the
pressure on Houston’s defense instead.
”I think it would’ve been a 53 1/2 or 54-yard field goal,”
Kubiak said. ”What I was watching, as the game goes, it was
obvious that every kicker wanted to go the other way. When Neil
kicked off, he put the ball in the end zone. If you watch Neil’s
kickoff in the fourth quarter, his kickoff hit about the 10-yard
line. It just raised some red flags for me.”
Washington drove to the Houston 34, and Kubiak called time-out a
second before Graham Gano kicked an apparent game-winning field
goal. Gano missed wide right on his second try, the Texans drove
inside the Redskins’ 20 and Rackers won it with a 35-yard kick.
Kubiak found plenty to criticize when he broke down the game
film. He also saw standout performances from just about all the
team’s emerging stars.
Defensive end Mario Williams sacked Donovan McNabb three times
and Johnson came back from a sprained ankle to make a spectacular
catch for the tying touchdown with about two minutes left. Matt
Schaub completed 38 of 52 passes for a franchise record 497 yards,
Kevin Walter caught 11 passes for 144 yards and safety Bernard
Pollard, acquired last season, blocked a field-goal attempt.
”We didn’t play well as a team, but we had about 4-5 guys just
put the team on their shoulders and be exceptional,” Kubiak
This is the Texans’ ninth season, and their 19-10 win over
Dallas in the franchise’s inaugural game still stands as one of the
team’s most important victories. They’ve added two more significant
wins this season.
”From looking at the film, golly, it was not one of our better
football games,” Kubiak said. ”But to still find a way to win,
playing in a tough situation like that, that was impressive.”