Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub has sometimes been labeled as fragile due to the fact that he has played all 16 games in just 2 of his 5 seasons with the Texans. That label is not completely accurate, as injuries at the QB position in the NFL are not that uncommon. A better label for him may be unlucky, which was the case last season when his season ended in week 10 after Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Albert Haysneworth and his 350 pound plus frame fell and broke Schaub’s foot in a pile following a quarterback sneak.
After Sunday, skeptics can go ahead and add another label to the Houston quarterback: tough. Schaub had a big time game Sunday, completing 17-30 passes for 290 yards, 4 TDs and a 115.3 passer rating to lead the Texans to the 31-25 road win over the Denver Broncos. In addition to putting up those huge numbers, he displayed an impressive amount of toughness and fortitude in the 3rd quarter that showed he was not going to be denied on this day.
Following a 2 yard completion to WR Kevin Walter to give the Texans a 1st down, Broncos LB Von Miller was assessed a 15 yard penalty for a late hit on Schaub that drove him into the ground. On the very next play, not to be outdone by Miller, Denver LB Joe Mays one upped him by delivering a vicious hit to Schaub’s head that knocked him to the ground and dislodged his helmet. It was a blow that warranted an ejection but Mays was hit with just a 15 yard personal foul penalty. He can also expect to hear from the league office this week, in the form of a FedEx delivery with a pretty hefty fine enclosed in it.
Texans fans everywhere were likely holding their collective breaths after the hit while Schaub was kneeling on the ground with his head in his hands. However, he popped up and walked to the sideline under his own power. Backup QB T.J. Yates came in for one snap and one play later, Schaub was back on the field leading the Texans in the huddle. The fact that he only missed one play spoke volumes about how tough a competitor Schaub is. It may have been a surprise to many that he bounced back so quickly, but this was not the first time Houston’s field general displayed toughness.
In the aforementioned game against the Bucs last season, Schaub finished the game with his foot injury. The play where Haynseworth belly flopped on it occurred in the 2nd quarter. That meant that Schaub played the entire 2nd half with a broken foot, as it was not discovered it was broken until an x-ray following the game. He also completed a game against the Texans next opponent, the Tennessee Titans, with a separated shoulder in the 2008 season.
Schaub was money with the deep ball and also did a beautiful job of spreading the ball around Sunday, as his 4 touchdown tosses went to 4 different Texans. Andre Johnson was the recipient of the first one, as Schaub hit him in stride off a play action fake for a 60 yard bomb that gave Houston its first lead of the game, 7-5. The next one came on a 3 yard swing pass to Arian Foster that gave that capped an impressive 98 yard drive.
On the Texans next series, Schaub victimized Broncos CB Tracey Porter deep once again, this time from 52 yards out to Kevin Walter. His fourth and final TD pass was a 14 yard strike to TE Owen Daniels that gave Houston their largest lead of the game at 31-11. That turned out to be the winning touchdown in the game. Each of Schaub’s 4 scoring passes would be needed, as Denver mounted a late rally with 2 touchdowns in the 4th quarter to make the game interesting.
On a day when he threw his 100th career touchdown (fittingly, the one to Johnson), Schaub received the game ball from coach Gary Kubiak. It was well deserved, not only due to the numbers he put up but also for remaining in the battle on a brutal, physical afternoon for him.