HOUSTON - The Texans have developed a reputation as a strong defensive team, but on Sunday at Reliant Stadium, with their defense under siege from Jacksonville backup quarterback Chad Henne and rookie receiver Justin Blackmon, the Texans needed their offense to bail them out.
Quarterback Matt Schaub set a franchise record for completions while receiver Andre Johnson enjoyed a career day to help the Texans erase a two-touchdown, fourth-quarter deficit and take a 43-37 overtime win.
Johnson turned a short screen pass from Schaub into a 48-yard, walk-off touchdown with 2:01 remaining in the overtime period after both the Texans (9-1) and Jaguars (1-9) kicked field goals to start the extra session. Johnson finished with 14 catches and 273 yards. The game-winning score was his first touchdown on the afternoon.
"I've been telling you guys (the assembled media) I've been feeling better and better every week," said Johnson, who has been dogged by questions that he's slowing down. "Maybe you guys will believe me."
Schaub passed for 527 yards, tying former Oilers quarterback Warren Moon for the second-highest single-game total in NFL history. He tossed five touchdown passes and completed 43 of 55 attempts to outduel Henne (16-of-33 for 354 yards and four touchdowns). Henne's 81-yard scoring strike to Blackmon (seven receptions for 236 yards) had given the Jaguars a 34-20 lead with 12:33 remaining.
Blackmon entered the weekend with 26 receptions for 250 yards and one touchdown while Henne had passed for 215 yards and a touchdown over two games off the bench. Both resembled world-beaters against the league's second-ranked defense, a unit fresh off a brilliant effort against the Bears in Chicago on national television last Sunday night.
But after the Jaguars opened their 14-point lead, Schaub caught fire, connecting on 25 of 30 attempts for 298 yards and three touchdowns over the fourth quarter and overtime. He engineered scoring drives of 80 and 90 yards in the final period, with both marches capped by touchdown passes to backup tight end Garrett Graham.
"He's been playing unbelievable all year in my eyes," Texans tight end Owen Daniels said of Schaub. "He's our leader. He's in total control out there, and in those types of pressure situations, he has the most poise."
Said Schaub, who completed 17 consecutive passes in one stretch: "We had to play catch-up. We liked some of the stuff that we were doing in our empty set and then with our five wides or four wides and Daniels in there. With the coverages we were getting, guys were making plays."
A pivotal moment occurred on the final snap of the Jaguars' opening series when Texans strong safety Danieal Manning blasted Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert as he attempted a third-down pass. Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins recovered the ensuing fumble, but, of greater significance, Gabbert was sidelined with a right elbow contusion.
Not only did the Texans, who covered 84 yards with ease en route to a touchdown on their opening series, squander that early opportunity to extend their 7-0 lead, their fortunes turned when Henne came off the Jacksonville bench. Following a three-and-out on his first series, Henne guided the Jaguars on three consecutive scoring drives.
His pinpoint 63-yard pass to Blackmon set the stage for Marcedes Lewis' 13-yard scoring grab that knotted the score at 7-all late in the first. Henne followed with a 67-yard touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts on his third possession, then led an eight-play, 44-yard drive that culminated in a Josh Scobee 43-yard field goal and 17-14 lead.
"This defense is a big man-to-man coverage team," Henne said of the Texans. "What it all comes down to is the guys outside winning one-on-one matchups, and today we exploited it. Our guys made some big plays and made my job easier."
NOTES: The Texans had surrendered just one touchdown and an average of 243 yards during their three-game win streak entering Sunday. The Jaguars, ranked dead last in the NFL in total offense and scoring offense, recorded four touchdowns and 458 yards against the Texans' second-ranked defense. ... Johnson and Blackmon became the first receivers in NFL history to produce 200-yard receiving efforts in the same game. ... Shorts' 67-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was his fourth of 20-plus yards this season, the most by a Jaguars receiver since Reggie Williams recorded five in 2007.