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Chargers Let First Half Lead Slip, Lose to Texans 31-28

Posted Sep 9, 2013

Here is your game recap for the Chargers - Texans season opener.

A tie game with only seconds remaining on the clock, the Texans kicked a field goal to beat the Chargers 31-28.

The Texans won the toss and elected to receive.  On the Texans first play of the game, Jarret Johnson rose high and deflected the ball high in the air into the arms of Cam Thomas.  With the ball at the Houston 14 yard line, Philip Rivers hit Ryan Mathews up the right sideline for a diving touchdown catch.  Just 15 seconds into the game, the Chargers led 7-0. A 46-yard kickoff return gave Houston the ball at its’ own 40-yard line. The Chargers defense continued its strong start, forcing a three-and-out.  Backed up at the six yard line, Rivers and company picked up a first down before being forced to punt.   Starting with good field position, Matt Schaub tied the game at 7-7 when after marching down the field, he hit his tight end Owen Daniels for a one-yard touchdown.   The quarter ended with the Chargers driving from their own 20 to midfield.

Photo Gallery: Texans vs. Chargers | Charger Girls | More Photos

Just under three-minutes into the second quarter, Rivers registered his second passing touchdown of the game.  He found Eddie Royal on a six-yard pass in the left corner of the end zone, giving the Bolts a 14-7 lead. The Texans offense marched the ball down the field, but the Chargers forced them into a fourth-and-short.  On the play, Bront Bird got penetration and dove along the line of scrimmage, stopping Arian Foster in his tracks, changing possession.  After a three-and-out, Houston responded with a strong drive.  The Bolts defense bent, but it didn’t break, forcing a long 51-yard field goal attempt by Randy Bullock that went wide left.  Rivers used his arm, and legs for an 18-yard gain, to move the Bolts down the field.  On 3rd-and-goal from the 10-yard line, Vincent Brown caught the ball around the five yard line and sprinted toward the left corner of the end zone.  Brown dove and touched the pylon, resulting in a touchdown and 21-7 lead heading into half.

The Bolts came out firing to start the second half, as Rivers hit Malcom Floyd for a 47-yard reception on the first play.  The Chargers quarterback threw his fourth touchdown of the game to Royal, marking the wideout’s first career two-touchdown game, putting the home team up 28-7. The Texans responded impressively, going 82 yards on 11 plays in 4:57 seconds, culminating in a Garrett Graham seven-yard touchdown catch.  The score trimmed the Chargers lead to 28-14. Fozzy Whittaker returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the 38-yard line.  Unfortunately, the offense went three-and-out, giving the ball back to Houston. The Texans marched down to the 20-yard line to end the quarter.

With 15 minutes left to play, the Texans had the ball deep in Chargers territory. It appeared the defense limited the damage to a field goal, but a personal foul on the attempt gave the Texans first down at the nine-yard line. The Texans made the Chargers pay for the transgression with an Owen Daniels touchdown, and the lead was cut to seven, 28-21.  Another three-and-out returned the ball to the visitors, and it appeared the Bolts forced a three-and-out as well, except the Texans ran a fake punt up the middle for a first down.  A Johnson sack forced a third-and-15, and following a delay of game penalty, the Texans faced third-and-20.  On the play, the Chargers blitzed, forcing an incompletion, sending the ball back to the Bolts. Unfortunately, on the first play from scrimmage, Brian Cushing recorded a pick-six to tie the game at 28. After each team punted, the Chargers got the ball back around their own 20, but were forced to punt with 4:06 remaining in the game.  The two minute warning hit and the Texans were marching down the field into Chargers territory.  The Texans converted on a big third-and-four play to put themselves into field goal range with under a minute to play.  The Texans called a timeout with four seconds remaining to set up for their game winning field goal.

Turning Point

The Chargers had just staked themselves to a 28-7 lead early in the second half when the Houston Texans came roaring back.  Matt Schaub led the team on an 11-play, 82-yard scoring drive that culminated in a Garrett Graham seven yard touchdown catch.  The score breathed new life into the Texans and marked a change in momentum the Chargers couldn’t overturn.

It was Over When…

As the clock ticked down to zero, Randy Bullock drilled a 41-yard field goal to hand the Chargers a 31-28 loss.

Play of the Game

A two-for-one here, as a Cam Thomas interception led to Ryan Mathews’ first touchdown catch of his career.  Oh, and it was the first defensive and offensive snaps of the season and took place 15 seconds into the game.  Jarret Johnson earns the assist on the Thomas interception, as the veteran linebacker rose high in the air to deflect the ball to the Chargers defensive tackle.  Then, Mathews ran up the right sideline and dove to make a fingertip catch in the end zone.

Stat of the Game

After the Chargers took a 28-7 lead, the Houston Texans scored 24 straight points.  They didn’t lead all game until the final buzzer sounded.

Bolt Quotebook

“This is a tough one, obviously.  When you play a good team like the Houston Texans and you have an opportunity where you’re up 28-7, you’ve got to put the game away.  You can’t give them any plays.” – Head Coach Mike McCoy

“It’s really tough.  It hurts a lot.  We’ve got to finish games like this when we’ve got the momentum going.  We’ve got to keep it going and just finish.  Finish the game…It’s a dogfight.  Every game we can’t expect for it to be like it was in the first half the whole game.  We’ve got to expect for it to be tough.  When the times get tough, we’ve got to step up and we’ve got to make plays.” -  Cornerback Shareece Wright

“That’s just the game of football at the end of the day.  You win some.  You lose some.  You just want to win the ones in the fourth quarter, and at the end of the day we didn’t do that.  We left a lot of plays out there.” – Wide Receiver Eddie Royal

“There’s no time to stay down right now.  We’ve got to focus on the positives of this game and not worry.  We’ve got to move forward, get ready for Philadelphia and get our first win under our belt.  There’s no time to dwell on it.” – Center Nick Hardwick

“This is not all bad.  Yeah, we lost, but even in a loss you’ve got to learn.  You’ve got to gain some positives from it, which we will.” – Linebacker Dwight Freeney

Odds and Ends

Philip Rivers completed a pass to seven different receivers. He also threw four touchdowns, marking his fifth-career game with four touchdown passes and first since Nov. 6, 2011 vs. Green Bay.

Antonio Gates led the team with 49 receiving yards on two catches.

Ryan Mathews led the team with 33 rushing yards on 13 attempts.

The Texans won the time of possession battle 36:31 to 23:29.

Houston also outgained the Bolts 449 to 263.

Ryan Mathews’ touchdown catch was the first touchdown catch of his career.

Eddie Royal recorded the first multi-touchdown game of his career.

Philip Rivers’ 18-yard run was the longest of his career.

The Chargers offensive touchdown 15 seconds into the game was the fastest in team history.

Inactives for the Chargers included Brad Sorensen, Seyi Ajirotutu, Brandon Taylor, Manti Te'o, Tourek Williams, Johnnie Troutman and Drake Nevis.

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