Monday night football: TExans 31, Chargers 28

Houston has no problem with gritty comeback against Chargers

2013-09-09T18:42:00Z 2013-09-09T23:37:04Z Houston has no problem with gritty comeback against ChargersThe Associated Press The Associated Press
September 09, 2013 6:42 pm  • 

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Chargers got off to a dynamite start under new coach Mike McCoy. The Houston Texans showed them how to finish. Randy Bullock kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired, and the Texans rallied from a 21-point deficit in the second half for a 31-28 victory over the Chargers on Monday night. Brian Cushing returned an interception 18 yards for the tying touchdown with 9:30 to play for the Texans, who roared back from a 28-7 deficit late in the third quarter to spoil the debut of McCoy, the offensive guru hired to revitalize a stagnant franchise. Matt Schaub threw a tipped interception on Houston’s first play of the season, but recovered to pass for 346 yards and three TDs. He calmly engineered the final 36-yard drive to set up Bullock, who coolly nailed his NFL field goal. Philip Rivers threw four touchdown passes as the Chargers gave their fans a tantalizing start under McCoy. They also got an agonizing reminder of last season under fired coach Norv Turner, when San Diego blew five halftime leads. Owen Daniels caught two TD passes and Garrett Graham had another for the Texans in the final game of the NFL’s opening weekend. While the Chargers showed promise, the Texans began a season of Super Bowl aspirations with a rally befitting a defending two-time AFC South champion club that started 11-1 in 2012. Ryan Mathews caught a 14-yard TD pass on San Diego’s first snap, while Eddie Royal made two TD catches and Vincent Brown had another for the Chargers during an auspicious start in the first three quarters for McCoy. He was hired away from division rival Denver to jump-start a team that has missed the playoffs for three straight years. San Diego led 7-0 just 15 seconds into the season, thanks to an interception on Houston’s first play and Rivers’ TD pass on the Chargers’ first snap. San Diego had a 14-point halftime lead and stretched it to 28-7 early in the third quarter, but Houston’s offense finally clicked decisively. San Diego managed just 90 yards in the second half, and the turnover-prone Rivers made yet another big mistake late in an otherwise solid game. Cushing came up big in his first game since missing most of last season with a knee injury and then signing a six-year, $55.6 million extension last week. Rivers’ under-pressure throw was snagged by Cushing, who got up from his diving catch and rumbled into the end zone. After each team punted, Schaub got the Texans in position for Bullock, a fifth-round draft pick last year who missed all of his first season with a groin injury. Houston got a big boost early in the fourth quarter when Thomas got a 10-yard penalty during a field-goal attempt for unnecessary roughness against Houston’s center, giving a first down to the Texans on a new rule for this season. Daniels caught a 9-yard TD pass on the next snap, cutting San Diego’s lead to seven points with 14:44 to play. The Texans then successfully faked a punt with 12 minutes left, converting a fourth-and-1. Although Houston had to punt three plays later, Cushing made his tying interception on San Diego’s next offensive snap.

Houston kicker Randy Bullock (4) celebrates with holder Shane Lechler after booting the winning 41-yard field goal as time expired Monday night.

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