Sep 23, 2012
DENVER -- Matt Schaub outdueled Peyton Manning, throwing four touchdown passes and leading the Houston Texans past the Denver Broncos 31-25 Sunday for the first 3-0 start in the team's 10-year history.
Shaking off a sack in the end zone that resulted in a safety on his first play, Schaub completed 17 of 30 for 290 yards in helping Texans coach Gary Kubiak, a onetime Broncos offensive coordinator and a backup in his playing days to Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, reach his 50th career victory.
Schaub matched a career best with the four scoring passes, including strikes of 60 yards to Andre Johnson and 52 yards to Kevin Walter. It was the second time in his career he had two touchdown passes of at least 50 yards in a game.
Manning, coming off subpar outing in a loss at Atlanta in which he threw three interceptions, bounced back to complete 26 of 52 passes for 323 yards. The completions included a 38-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley with 9:49 remaining after the Broncos' Justin Bannan recovered a fumble by Ben Tate near midfield.
An apparent 31-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas with 4:33 remaining was reversed when replay review showed that the Broncos wide receiver didn't get both feet inbounds. Moments later, though, cornerback Kareem Jackson was flagged for interfering with Eric Decker in the end zone in a 26-yard penalty that gave Denver a first-and-goal at Houston's 1-yard line. A couple plays later, Manning completed a 6-yard scoring pass to Joel Dreessen, who made the catch with three minutes left after the throw deflected off Decker and two Texans defenders.
Houston managed to run off most of the remaining time when Schaub converted a third-and-5 play with a 12-yard completion to Johnson. The Broncos got the ball back deep in their territory on a punt with just 20 seconds left and time ran out when their final desperation play involving a series of laterals failed.
Ahead by 10 points, the Texans stretched their lead to 24-11 when Shayne Graham kicked a 41-yard field goal with 9:11 remaining in the third quarter. The Texans were aided on the drive by two roughing-the-passer penalties, including one in which linebacker Joe May jolted Schaub with a blow that knocked the quarterback's helmet off his head.
Schaub left the game for one play, and later connected with tight end Owen Daniels on a 14-yard scoring pass to put the Texans up 31-11 with 1:33 remaining in the third quarter.
The Broncos took an early 5-0 lead when Elvis Dumervil broke through to sack Schaub in the end zone for a safety on the Texans' first play and Matt Prater finished off a drive with his first field goal, a 32-yarder.
But the Texans rode Schaub's arm to a 21-11 halftime lead. In quick succession, he connected on touchdown passes to Johnson, Walter and Arian Foster, who hauled in a 3-yarder.
Schaub hit Johnson in stride after the wide receiver got behind cornerback Tracy Porter, picking up his 100th career scoring pass in the process.
Foster was open in the flat for his first touchdown catch of the season, capping a 97-yard drive that stood out as the Texans' longest since a 99-yard march against Baltimore in December 2010.
Schaub picked on Porter again when Walter streaked past him and ran under Schaub's third scoring pass of the day.
Prater kicked his second field goal, a 23-yarder, after Manning's third-down pass into the end zone was wide of Thomas in an apparent miscommunication between the quarterback and the receiver.
Prater added a 53-yard field goal with one second remaining in the second quarter, set up by linebacker Wesley Woodyard's interception of Schaub and 7-yard return to the Broncos' 40-yard line.
NOTES: Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno, a former first-round pick who has been listed as McGahee's backup, was among the team's inactive players a week after a costly fumble in the loss at Atlanta. ... McGahee left the game in the third quarter with a rib injury. ... Broncos linebacker Nate Irving suffered a concussion in the second quarter and did not return. ... Broncos receiving great Rod Smith became the 23rd player in team history to be inducted into the club's Ring of Fame during halftime ceremonies at Sports Authority Field. ... Johnson extended his consecutive reception streak to 85 games. ... Woodyard's interception late in the second quarter snapped Schuab's 104-pass run without a pick. It was the second longest streak in the Texans' 10-year history, trailing only Schaub's run of 110 passes without an interception in 2010.