HOUSTON - Two weeks into a season rife with Super Bowl expectations, the Houston Texans seem to have mastered the white-knuckled rally.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins as Houston came back to defeat the Tennessee Titans 30-24 in overtime Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
Hopkins, whose 25-yard catch three snaps earlier moved the Texans (2-0) in the shadow of the goal posts, finished with seven receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. After covering 87 yards in eight plays to draw even late in the fourth quarter, the Texans marched 78 yards in 11 plays to stun the Titans after winning the coin toss in overtime.
"This team we played today basically said (All-Pro wide receiver) Andre (Johnson) was not going to beat them in the way they played us," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "Ultimately somebody else was going to have to come up and make some plays. And Hop played huge in the back end of the game."
Tennessee (1-1) put the Texans in scramble mode with back-to-back touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 99-yard scoring drive capped by a 10-yard pass from Jake Locker to Delanie Walker. The Titans upped their lead to 24-16 when cornerback Alterraun Verner picked off Schaub for a 23-yard touchdown return with 4:59 to play.
The Texans needed just 1 minute, 14 seconds to respond, turning a crucial reversal of a 21-yard Johnson catch originally ruled incomplete into a first-and-goal at the Tennessee 2. Texans running back Arian Foster scored on a 1-yard plunge two snaps later, then fought for the goal line in earning the two-point conversion to tie the game 24-24.
"The line made a good push," Foster said, "and I did what I'm supposed to."
The Titans, whose masterful defensive effort highlighted their surprising victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, had the Texans under wraps until Houston initiated the two-minute offense that keyed its comeback from a 21-point deficit last Monday at San Diego. Houston amassed 452 yards, 215 coming on its final three possessions.
"We've got to be better at what we're doing, more discipline for a full 60 minutes," Titans strong safety Bernard Pollard said. "I thought we played our tails off. I do. We want to play a perfect game, but at the same time we played a good enough game to win. We left so many things out there on the field, and as a player you cannot do that."
After covering 80 yards in five plays on their opening drive, one culminating in a Schaub-to-Garrett Graham touchdown pass, the Texans squandered exceptional field position for the remainder of the first half.
Randy Bullock pushed two 50-yard field goal attempts wide right as part of Houston failing to convert on five possessions initiating at its 39 or better. The Titans took a 10-7 halftime lead when Rob Bironas hit a 47-yard field goal as the half expired. Tennessee followed by completing the third quarter without registering a first down over four possessions.
Bullock also missed a 46-yard attempt on an untimed play to close regulation, hitting the left upright to send the game into overtime. But the Texans held momentum by the stage, a remarkable fact given how in control the Titans appeared to be as Verner waltzed into the end zone.
"We had the opportunity in the fourth quarter to win that football game, and that's all you can ask for when you travel on the road against a team that's won your division the last two years," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "We put ourselves in a position to win and we have to find a way to win these games. That's where we're at now."
NOTES: Texans WR Andre Johnson underwent a postgame evaluation for a concussion. Johnson was injured while making a 21-yard catch. ...Titans RB Chris Johnson rushed for 96 yards and became the third running back in franchise history to surpass 7,000 career rushing yards. Johnson (7,054 yards) joined Eddie George (10,009) and Earl Campbell (8,574). With 97 yards from scrimmage, Johnson upped his career total to 8,730 yards and bypassed Ernest Givins (8,704 yards) for fourth place on the franchise list. ... Texans LT Duane Brown was helped off the field midway through the second quarter after suffering a lower right leg injury. Brown had his right ankle re-taped and returned for the ensuing offensive series. ... After rushing for 55 yards while splitting duties with Foster last week, Texans RB Ben Tate reeled off a 60-yard run on his first carry and led the team with 93 yards on nine carries.