Houston Texans continue their ascension toward the NFL's elite with comeback win over Redskins

Washington leads 27-10 in the third quarter, but Houston rallies to force overtime and wins on a field goal.
By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 20, 2010; 12:11 AM

In the not-so-distant past, the Houston Texans were the long-shot darlings of the NFL. They had promise by the boatload at several indispensable positions and had become the trendy pick to perhaps dethrone playoff regular Indianapolis from atop the AFC South.

After two games this season, it's abundantly clear the Texans no longer are a fad. They instead have legitimate aspirations of winning their highly competitive division and could do some damage in the playoffs, as they showed in their 30-27 overtime victory over the Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field.

Quarterback Matt Schaub, who completed just nine passes in last week's 34-24 cathartic triumph over the Colts, directed the comeback from a 17-point deficit late in the third quarter. He carved up Washington for 497 yards and three touchdowns, in completing 38 of 52 passes.

In staging one of the most prolific passing performances in recent memory, Schaub also reminded the rest of the league that while he may not be in the conversation with the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, the former University of Virginia standout certainly could ascend to that level.

"Our quarterback had a 500-yard day throwing the football. That doesn't happen in the National Football League very often," Coach Gary Kubiak said.

On the way to the second-biggest comeback in franchise history, Schaub completed a pair of touchdown passes to Kevin Walter and Andre Johnson sandwiched around a field goal to tie the game at 27. The touchdown to Johnson came on fourth down and 10 from the Redskins 34, with 2 minutes 3 seconds to play.

In overtime, Schaub converted third and four with a six-yard completion to wide receiver Jacoby Jones to the Washington 46 before lofting a 28-yard completion to tight end Joel Dreessen. That play moved Houston to the 18, and Neil Rackers booted a 35-yard field goal to end the game.

"We're on the road today in a very difficult environment against a very good football team," said Schaub, who spent most of his time handing off last week to running back Arian Foster. "We got behind in a tough environment, but we battled. It just shows the resolve this team has."

Perhaps the most indomitable player among all the Texans was Johnson, the physically imposing wide receiver who is making his case as the best at his position. Despite leaving the game briefly in the second half with a sore ankle, Johnson finished with 158 yards on 12 catches a week after he went virtually unnoticed on the stat sheet.

In the opener, the Colts were determined not to allow Johnson to be a difference-maker. The move backfired, though, as Foster rushed for 231 yards and three touchdowns.

On Sunday, with Washington dedicating major resources to stopping the run, Johnson often had room downfield or made his own space. Safety Reed Doughty was the victim when Johnson used his body to get position and grab the tying touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.

"He's in the Pro Bowl now," defensive end Mario Williams (three sacks) said when asked about his teammate's acrobatic catch. The crowd "got quiet. We got crunk."

Walter added 144 yards on 11 receptions, and Foster, limited to 69 yards on 19 carries, contributed three catches for 69 yards.

In all, Houston amassed 526 yards of total offense after gaining 198 in the first half. The Texans also had 19 of their 29 first downs in the second half.

"You don't do things like that if you don't have character," Kubiak said. "The character of the team got tested today, and there was no panic at halftime," when the Texans trailed, 20-7. "There was a lot of mad football players and coaches, but there was no panic."

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