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Miracle Finish

Oops! Matt Schaub throws INT on very first play of the season — bad omen ignored

Matt Schaub Texans Chargers
Matt Schaub's first pass of the 2013 season? Interception San Diego. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Owen Daniels Saints Texans
Matt Schaub was trying to get the ball to one of his favorite targets Owen Daniels (shown here in another game). It never came close thanks to a San Diego tip. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Bob McNair Texans San Diego
Bob McNair found a lot of Houston Texans fans in San Diego. And the owner showed his appreciation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Matt Schaub Texans Chargers
Owen Daniels Saints Texans
Bob McNair Texans San Diego

In a stadium showing plenty of Houston Texans red for the TV audience, with the NFL's eye (or at least those NFL eyes still open) finally turning to them, Matt Schaub's moment had arrived.

So what does the Texans often-questioned quarterback do?

Throw an interception on the very first play from scrimmage. Yeah, that happened.

 Two plays. Fifteen seconds. One interception. One opposing touchdown pass. 

Ten seconds into Houston's season of supersized expectations, Schaub turned the ball over. It came on a tipped pass that J.J. Watt would envy. San Diego Chargers linebacker Jarret Johnson stuck his hand up high and sent a Schaub pass spinning toward nose tackle Cam Thomas, who plucked it out the air with some nifty meaty palm work.

Chargers ball at the Texans' 14-yard line. San Diego's first offensive play? A 14-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to a diving Ryan Mathews.

Two plays. Fifteen seconds. One interception. One opposing touchdown pass.

That's the type of sequence that is awfully hard to overcome in the supposedly ultra-balanced world of the NFL. Especially on the road. But Schaub kept throwing. He completed six of his next seven passes, drove the Texans to one equalizing touchdown. He even rather agilely avoided pressure on one third down and delivered a pass that only tight end Garrett Graham could go up and catch.

Still, the first-play interception loomed over the game. With Arian Foster getting stuffed on a fourth-and-a-foot, receiver Lestar Jean committing two first-half holding penalties, Brice McCain drawing a pass interference penalty and getting beat for a touchdown on back-to-back plays and rookie D.J. Swearinger getting schooled by veteran tight end Antonio Gates, the Texans would struggle to overcome the disadvantage.

They couldn't do it by halftime. Schaub and the Texans went into the break trailing 21-7. But the game was only beginning. And Schaub's night would be determined by the finish — a 31-28 Texans win — not the start.

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