Austin | Dallas | Houston
Incredible Texans Comeback

Tuesday Morning Football rules! Matt Schaub, Texans show Super heart with record late-night comeback

Enlarge
Slideshow
Texans Chargers TD stretch Andre
The Houston Texans stretched for a historic comeback win against the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Matt Schaub Texans comeback
Matt Schaub was the picture of determination in arguable his finest moment as a Houston Texan. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Brian Cushing Texans comeback
Brian Cushing plucked a pass out of thin air and turned around a Monday Night Football game. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Texans fan comeback
In the end, Houston Texans fans could rejoice. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Chargers Texans TD
The San Diego Chargers jumped out to a 28-7 lead on the Houston Texans. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Texans Chargers fight
The Houston Texans showed more fight in the second half against the Chargers. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Texans Garrett Graham Chargers
Matt Schaub turned to his tight ends — like Garrett Graham. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Texans Chargers Wade Phillips
Wade Phillips did not like how his defense played for the first three and a half quarters. But he loved the finish. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Arian Foster Texans Chargers
Arian Foster could never break free for a big one. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Texans Chargers touchdown stretch
Another look . . .  Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Texans Chargers TD stretch Andre
Matt Schaub Texans comeback
Brian Cushing Texans comeback
Texans fan comeback
Chargers Texans TD
Texans Chargers fight
Texans Garrett Graham Chargers
Texans Chargers Wade Phillips
Arian Foster Texans Chargers
Texans Chargers touchdown stretch

It should have been over. The Houston Texans should have been dead and buried. Matt Schaub, J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and Andre Johnson almost could have been forgiven for chalking it up as a lost crud of a night in beautiful San Diego.

Only, they never would have forgiven themselves. So they kept picking themselves off the ground and charging at some shocked Chargers.

From 28-7 down to 31-28 clock-hits-quadruple-zero winners. From complete, utter misery to the largest comeback in franchise history. From a Super Bummer to a Super show of heart.

This isn't one of the prettiest wins in Houston Texans' history. But it sure is one of the most important.

 Schaub went from throwing an interception on the very first play of the Texans season to playing arguably his best game ever.  

For on the Monday Night Football stage — or at least the Tuesday Morning Football one — Schaub, Andre, Watt, Cushing and Gary Kubiak showed more guts and fearless determination than we've ever seen out of them before. The Texans may not have executed like champions. But they sure flashed the heart of one.

"We really haven't done that before," Cushing told 610 AM in a quick postgame interview from the San Diego bedlam.

Cushing is talking about mounting this type of nails-crawling-dirt comeback. Make no mistake, this marks another step in this Texans team's evolution. Oh, they've pulled out close, thrilling games before (see those back-to-back wins vs. Jacksonville and Detroit last season). But they've never risen from the grave quite like this.

This was something else. This was something special. Super Heart.

"Even though it looked like everything was against us, nobody got worried," second half difference maker J.J. Watt told ESPN in an on-field post comeback interview that flirted with the 1 a.m. hour in Houston. "Nobody was down."

Especially not Matt Schaub. The often-ridiculously-doubted quarterback went from throwing an interception on the very first play of the Texans season to playing arguably his best game ever (though that game in Denver last September is close).

Schaub threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns as the Texans scored 24 points in the last 19:57 of game time. He simply took the game over when Kubiak allowed the Texans to hurry up and get into their Sugar Huddle out of necessity. With the plays coming fast and furious, and the field spread wide, Schaub suddenly started finding rookie DeAndre Hopkins (five catches for 66 yards, almost all of it in those last 20 minutes) to go with the ever-dominant Johnson (12 catches on 16 targets for 146 yards, including one mammoth third-and-18 conversion).

"Our QB was an absolute champ," Kubiak said in his own postgame press conference, broadcast live on stations like CSN.

Schaub wasn't the only one worthy of that moniker. There is Watt, dropping Chargers running back Ryan Mathews in the backfield on one play and getting his arms up high to swat down a Philip Rivers pass on another a moment later, blowing up one San Diego second half possession virtually by himself. There's Cushing, diving from nowhere to grab a Pick-6 just before the ball can hit the grass, befuddling Rivers with both his athleticism and his smarts.

Cushing faked a blitz on that fateful, game-tying play. Rivers couldn't have been more tricked if he played for the Washington Generals.

Heck, there's even young kicker Randy Bullock making the first successful field goal of his NFL career a 41-yard game winner. As the clock hits 00:00.

It doesn't matter that most of America literally slept on this game. It doesn't matter that a large chunk of Texans fans probably turned the game off at 28-7 (though you'll never find one who admits it now).

What's important is that the Texans themselves lived their late night, early morning theater — and are now a better team because of it. A stronger team. A more capable contender.

Philip Rivers Stunned

Schaub and the Texans trailed by three touchdowns with five minutes left in the third quarter. Then, the game turned into something worthy of a Russian novelist.

The Texans convert a third-and-18, a third-and-13 — both in the second half. They force the Chargers into four three and outs and a Pick-6 in San Diego's last five possessions of the game.

 This isn't one of the prettiest wins in Houston Texans' history. But it sure is one of the most important. 

What a game. What a night. What a turnaround.

The Texans inflicted more damage on themselves than the Monty Python's Black Knight in the first half. Lestar Jean committed two senseless holding penalties. Eddie Royal bounced out of his August hospital bed and made Texans cornerback Brice McCain look like he'd spent all offseason in a bed. Houston's offensive line couldn't clear enough space for Arian Foster to gain a foot on a key fourth down.

So much for good things coming to those who wait.

Texans fans waited and waited for this Monday Night Football opener — waited till the very last game of Week One — and watched an Ed Reed-less secondary get shredded by Philip Rivers. Yes, the same Philip Rivers who isn't even supposed to be very good anymore.

Super Bummer? Not with the Texans refusing to wilt. Not with Watt stalking the sideline and screaming at his teammates for more.

Kubiak made one of the gutsiest calls of his coaching career, refusing to let momentum go and signaling for a fake punt in his own territory early in the fourth quarter. Special teams captain Shiloh Keo took the snap and got the first down. Still, the Texans had to punt again before long.

Super Bummer? Not with Cushing stepping in front of old Texans nemesis Danny Woodhead to pluck that Pick-6 from the grass. Not with Andre Johnson doing more heavy lifting on the game-winning drive, proving once again that playing him one-on-one is dead team walking's game.

"We couldn't have started any worse," Cushing said on the radio. "The good thing is we got it out of our system."

The better thing is that this type of win, this type of comeback, this type of refuse-to-lose mettle doesn't figure to ever get out of these Texans' system now.

Newsletters for exploring your city

Daily Digest

Houston news, views + events

The Dining Report

News you can eat

Insider Offers

Curated experiences at exclusive prices

Promo Alerts

Special offers + exclusive deals

We will not share or sell your email address