The Texans overcame a 17-point third-quarter deficit to win 30-27 in overtime at Washington on Sunday, running their record to 2-0 and keeping a one-game lead in the AFC South and perhaps signaling they are developing into legitimate contenders.
On Monday, head coach Gary Kubiak said he believes his team is "calmer" than it was before, and he cited how it reacted being down 20-7 at halftime at Washington.
"We go in at halftime and, let's face it, we had gotten pushed around about as good as you can get pushed around, and there was some uneasiness in the locker room, let's say," Kubiak told Houston reporters. "There were a lot of disappointed people and guys frustrated with each other and talking — coaches and everybody — and yet once that was over, there was a calm about, 'Hey, we're 13 points down. Let's go win a half of football.'
"So it wasn't like we took any frustrations or any panic to the field in the second half. Once we got our frustrations out of the way and the talking was done, so to speak, we just went out there and said, 'Let's go play a good half of football and see what happens.'
"So, I think we've matured from that standpoint; we've grown up. And also I think I've told y'all many times, I think we've come to expect to play in great football games — that is this league — and get in them and be willing to make a play and be the difference maker. So, I think we've grown up from that standpoint."
The PFW spin
In victory, the Texans' passing game showed how dominating it can be. QB Matt Schaub threw for a career-high 497 yards and three TDs, with 332 coming after halftime. WR Andre Johnson, one of the game's better receivers, caught 12 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. What's more, Kevin Walter caught all 11 passes thrown his way for 144 yards and a score.
The Texans' defense struggled to stop the pass, with Redskins QB Donovan McNabb throwing for 426 yards. Yet Houston held Washington without a point for the final 30:27 of the game, and DE Mario Williams had a great game, notching three sacks. SS Bernard Pollard blocked a 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to keep Houston within seven points with less than seven minutes left.
On Monday, Kubiak said several individual performances made the difference for Houston.
"For us personally, we didn't play real well as a team, but what we did was we had about four or five guys put the team on their shoulders and be exceptional. (DE) Mario (Williams)'s performance, (WR) Andre (Johnson)'s performance, (QB) Matt (Schaub)'s, (WR) Kevin Walter's, (SS) Bernard Pollard — what he did late in the fourth quarter. Those guys really just carried the football team. There were some special efforts from that standpoint, but from looking at the film, golly, it was not one of our better football games. But to still find a way to win, playing in a tough situation like that, that was impressive."
The Texans' talent hasn't been in doubt in recent years, but their ability to close has. Could the latter finally be changing?