TEXANS DEFEAT REDSKINS 30-27 (OT)
(Picture via stockmarkettoday.in)
It was only a week ago that the Washington Redskins herded the disoriented Cowboys out of DC, and now they face another western menace: the Houston Texans. Fresh off an impressive victory over Indy--in which newfound Texas darling Arian Foster steamrolled an impotent Colts defense--the Texans invade DC to avenge their fallen brothers; play marshal to Dallas' unruly and penalty stricken Cowboys. Meanwhile, the Skins hope that their renewed vigor and fandom continues for at least another week after a disasterous season a year ago. If their Week 1 victory was a bandage, week 2 would become their vaccine--hail to the Redskins heading out of a stubborn homestand. Donavon McNabb and Mike Shanahan; Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak--these four locked in an incestuous shootout that spanned regulation plus an entire quarter.
The battle began slowly. Donavon McNabb powered two offensive drives with pinpoint passing and deadly 1st down efficiency, but the Texas trenches dug into the red zone and limited both drives to field goals. Gano booted both balls past the goal posts for an early Skins lead: 6-0. As Washington's offense retired to the sidelines, FedEx field rattled off its raucous metal warsong; thousands of feet and hands slapped and slammed the steel seams, every seat became a veritable drum as the Texans looked on warily. Fearlessly, Arian Foster charged into the defense--again and again--running hard; blasting through the burgundy and gold line for key 1st downs. With renewed strength, the Texans offense fought through the hellacious, thunderous crowd and blitzing braves; sped across the field and ended in scoring position to start the 2nd quarter.
Houston came out of the locker room firing. Matt Schaub threw his first touchdown pass of the day. The Texans sidelines erupted as FedEx field descended into a poisonous silence. Mike Shanahan peered across the gridiron--past the sea of Redskins players--and glowered at his former protoge, Gary Kubiak. Houston's celebration would be short lived. Shanahan pupputeered two scoring drives, sandwiched against a Houston 3-and-out, directing McNabb's powerful arm and Clinton Portis' quick feet. Arms folded against his chest, cold eyes transfixed on the field, Shanahan stood aside his Redskins warriors against a sea of thunderous red fans; against the scoreboard, gently swaying: 20-7, Skins lead. Though battered by a barrage of blitzes, Matt Schaub commanded his Houston Texans into scoring position once more. Houston's offensive line tires, allowing Landry and a swarm of Redskins into the pocket; Schaub gets sacked on 3rd down once more. Desperate for points, the Texans offense is replaced by the field goal unit. Rackers takes the field amidst a hostile and booming crowd; he pumps his hand into a fist multiple times, glances at the capacity stadium, its fans, and the lights glaring hotly onto the turf. With little time left in the 2nd quarter, Rackers punches the field goal past the posts. On the sidelines, he strips his helmet and sits--the field goal is a minor solace. Before the half is over, Matt Schaub is leveled once more for another sack. FedEx field is thunderous as Houston retires dejectedly.
But these Texans--more disciplined and focused than their Cowboy cousins--refuse their apparent doom, and mount a furious comeback on the wingspan of Schaub's aerial supremacy. Houston's defense digs into the field, fights McNabb for every inch and yard, as relentless as the Skins ever were in the 1st half. Rackers kicks and makes another field goal. Though McNabb eventually connects with Chris Cooley for a touchdown, the Texans answer late with a touchdown of their own to end a bruising 3rd quarter. The tension is palpable; the ending uncertain as Washington shifts uneasily on the sidelines. FedEx field feels the shift too; senses a possible collapse, the impending struggle. The lead remains intact, but the momentum is gone, the killer edge dulled by Houston's unwillingness to surrender. The scoreboard shines on, indifferent to the game's emotion; registering only the winner: 27-17, Redskins lead.
Houston's defense bolsters itself once more, preparing for Shanahan's onslaught. The Skins drive time and time again, desperately feeling the Texan wall for a crack or seam. DC's running and fullbacks slam into an impenetrable mass of humanity time after time. McNabb fires bullets into his recievers; Santana Moss, Cooley and Portis are stopped cold before crucial first downs. Both quarterbacks are well beyond 400 yards passing, their shootout bloody and memorable. The formerly raucous crowd steadily descends back into silence. Where the Redskins would fail on critical plays, the Texans succeeded. They score the final 10 points off another Rackers field goal and Schaub touchdown pass. The 20-7 halftime lead seems years away as Houston ties the game with minutes left. Shanahan is livid; his face red and cracking beneath his usual calm demeanor--Shanahan orders McNabb and the offense back out onto the gridiron for a final drive. McNabb fires again and again, trekking down the field, threatening to overtake the Houston redzone. As Gano--the dependable brave who toppled Dallas--takes the field, the crowd sparks back to life. The end is near. Victory lies tangled at the tips of Gano's shoes, waiting for release. But Houston's defense desperately stretches a left hand across the ball and blocks the field goal. Heartbreak. Gano retires, robbed of another victory.
Overtime comes before a dejected and deflated DC crowd. Houston wins the coin toss and begins their drive. Refuses to kick the field goal. Washington takes over and marches down. Gano is again iced; once again robbed of glory. Kubiak called a timeout before the kick, before Gano powered a 50 yarder past the goal posts for the win. Gano, again--now misses. The Texans drive. Rackers lines up for the field goal, aims deadcenter at the heart of Redskins fans everywhere. Fires the kick. Between the posts. What once began as a surefire win dampens into a debilitating defeat.
But hope is not completely lost. The Redskins leave DC next week--braves on the warpath, and hail to them. Though these Texans did what the Cowboys could not, the Redskins fought valiantly before collapsing. The healing will come eventually, but not in week 2.