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The Houston Texans were able to overcome a sluggish start in a big way during Sunday’s home and season opener at Reliant Stadium against the Miami Dolphins. A 24 point second quarter explosion following a scoreless first quarter paved the road toward a rather easy 30-10 win for the defending AFC South champions.
“I liked the way we were able to work through our uneasiness early in the game and be a darn good football team there in the second quarter,” said Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, who announced after the game that he had agreed to a four year, $62 million contract extension through the 2016 season, completed 20 of 31 passes for 266 yards and one touchdown in his first game back after fracturing his right foot back in Week 10 of last season.
With his previous contract due to expire at the conclusion of this season, Schaub stated, “I’m excited for it to be done and over with so every ounce of focus and energy can be directed to this season.”
Wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster, Houston’s other two offensive stars, made eight catches for 119 yards and one touchdown, and had 79 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, respectively.
But it was the Texans stingy defense that was the big story. After surrendering a field goal late in the first quarter to fall behind 3-0 to the Dolphins, lead by rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was selected 8th overall in this summer’s draft, the Texans did not allow another score until a 72 yard punt return touchdown by Marcus Thigpen during the beginning stages of the second half.
And considering that those points came on special teams, it was exactly the type of day the Texans defense was hoping for.
Tannehill threw three interceptions in his NFL debut, which led to Houston’s scoring outburst in the second quarter. But even in spite of his struggles, he refused to focus solely on the negatives of his performance.
“I felt like we hurt ourselves more than they really just stopped us,” said Tannehill, who threw for 219 yards on 20 of 36 passing. “That’s a good defense. So being able to move the ball on a good defense like that gives us some confidence. Obviously, we have to fix a lot of things and eliminate those turnovers. But I think it gives us a look at what we could be if we played to our full potential.”
Tannehill’s three picks all came within the final eight minutes of the first half. The first was recorded by cornerback Johnathan Joseph at midfield and returned to the Miami 14 yard-line, setting up a 35 yard game-tying field goal by Shayne Graham. Linebacker Brian Cushing’s interception a couple minutes later near midfield would eventually lead to a 14 yard touchdown run by Foster, which gave the Texans the lead for good. Kareem Jackson, another Texans cornerback, was the final defender to intercept Tannehill at the Miami 30 with less than two minutes remaining in the half. After a 26 yard defensive pass interference penalty, Foster punched in his second touchdown of the afternoon from two yards out.
It was smooth sailing in the second half, as the Texans rolled to their first win of the year in what they believe can be a truly special season for them.
Houston travels to Jacksonville next week to take on a division rival in the Jaguars, while the Dolphins will host the Oakland Raiders in their home opener.
Image Courtesy of Houston Texans