For the second time in five days, the Houston Texans found themselves trailing in the fourth quarter. For the second time in five days, they found themselves in an overtime shootout. For the second time in five days, they found themselves up against the ropes and for the second time in five days they came back swinging and pulled off an improbabale overtime Thanksgiving victory over the Detroit Lions.
Displaying a resilient, never say die attitude, the Texans magical season continued as they improved to 10-1 and matched the franchise record for victories set last season. Despite making many mistakes on this day, Houston was able to overcome them and benefited greatly from a crucial one by Lions head coach Jim Schwartz to improve to 5-0 on the road this season.
Andre Johnson had another huge game, finishing with nine catches for 188 yards, including a 23-yard reception in overtime that set up Shayne Graham’s game winning 32-yard field goal. Graham reedemed himself, as he missed a kick from 51 yards out earlier in the OT period that would have won the game. The kicker and the Texans caught a break when Detroit’s Jason Hanson missed a field goal from 48 yards that would have given the Lions the victory. Instead, Hanson’s kick banged off of the right upright and the Texans were on their way.
The biggest break the Texans caught came courtesy of Schwartz in the third quarter. Texans RB Justin Forsett broke loose for an 81-yard touchdown run to pull the Texans within three points. However, Forsett was down and the officials didn’t blow the whistle. The new rule this year calls for all scoring plays to be automatically reviewed, so it is no doubt that the replay official would’ve overturned the call. The only problem was that Schwartz threw the challenge flag from the sideline, which not only is a 15 yard penalty on a scoring play, but also negates the automatic review upstairs.
Therefore, the score stood and the livid Lions fans rained the boos down for a good twenty minutes. Their ire should have been directed at Schwartz, and not the officials, for costing his team seven points. In spite of his gaffe, the Lions had a seven point lead in the fourth quarter and the Texans pinned down at the three yard line. The Texans then had their best drive of the season, going 97 yards to tie the game and force the extra period.
The game had a little bit of everything, from questionable calls, to big plays, to momentum swings and cheap shots. The Lions Ndamukong Suh, infamous for his Thanksgiving stomp last season against the Green Bay Packers last year, was at it again this year. This time, he swung his leg around after rolling on the ground and kicked Texans QB Matt Schaub in a not so friendly area. Suh wasn’t flagged on the play, but was heavily criticized by the NFL Today crew at halftime and might be hearing from Commissioner Roger Goodell this upcoming week.
After playing 10 quarters within a five day span, the Texans will get a much needed 10-day break before their next game December 2nd at the Tennessee Titans. They will need it, as several players left the game today with injuries. Already missing Ben Tate and Johnathan Joseph, Houston lost Brooks Reed to a groin injury, Bradie James to a hamstring injury and Derek Newton to a knee injury in the game.
Houston still was able to overcome adversity and despite another sub-par performance by the defense, they were able become the first team in league history to win two overtime games in a five-day period. They were led by Johnson, Schaub, who threw for 315 yards, and Watt, who had three sacks to break Mario Williams franchise single season sack record of 14. Watt now has 14.5 sacks on the season, and joined Hall of Famer Reggie White as the only players in NFL history to have 14 sacks and 13 passes defensed in a single season.
The aforementioned big three, (Johnson, Schaub and Watt) shared Phil Simms Iron Man Award for their Thanksgiving Day performances. Johnson has 23 catches for 461 yards the past two games, a two-game total that gave him the most receiving yards in back-to-back games in NFL history. Most importantly, the Texans returned home with the victory, and it was a Happy Thanksgiving in Houston indeed!