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Second-Half Surge Topples Texans

Posted Dec 26, 2010

The Texans dominated the first half, but the Broncos rallied back and owned the fourth quarter of the team's 24-23 victory at INVESCO Field at Mile High on Sunday.

DENVER -- For seemingly the first time all season, the ball bounced in favor of the Denver Broncos.

The club overcame a 17-0 halftime deficit on Sunday to defeat the Houston Texans 24-23 at INVESCO Field at Mile High. Trailing 23-17 with less than eight minutes remaining in the game, the Broncos began their winning drive with a benign bounce of the football.

After Matt Schaub threw two incompletions to bring up fourth down, Eddie Royal backed away from Matt Turk's punt and signaled his teammates to do the same. The football ricocheted off the turf back towards the punter and ended up at Denver's 24-yard line for a net punt of 29 yards.

Tim Tebow led the Broncos the rest of the way. The rookie quarterback passed for 45 yards and ran for 23 yards on the final drive, capping it off with a 6-yard sprint to the left pylon that tied the game at 23-23. Steven Hauschka's extra point provided the winning margin.

"I just think we kept fighting, we kept believing and I think we were just more aggressive," Tebow said. "We had nothing to lose and we were just going to go out and play until the last second."

Tebow threw for 308 yards, an interception and a touchdown, but the quarterback still relied on the defense to close out the game before he could kneel and run the final seconds off the clock. Houston had more than three minutes left to retake the lead in the fourth quarter after Tebow's go-ahead touchdown.

Schaub drove his squad down to Denver's 39-yard line after picking up first downs on two of his passes, but Justin Bannan tipped the quarterback's last pass into the waiting hands of rookie Syd'Quan Thompson.

"We made a play," Champ Bailey said. "The ball usually doesn't bounce our way, especially this year, and it bounced our way for a change. We were able to make a play and get a win."

With that takeaway, Thompson tied Bailey for the team lead in interceptions with two, and sealed the victory for the hometown team. After allowing two touchdowns and a field goal in the first half, Denver's defense held the Texans to six points on two field goals in the final two quarters.

Schaub completed 83 percent of his passes in the first half, but he only threw one touchdown pass in the game, a 3-yard strike to Owen Daniels in the second quarter. Houston's Arian Foster, the league's leading rusher, ran for 91 yards and a touchdown, but only compiled 25 yards on the ground after halftime.

Before the start of the third quarter, the Broncos ran out of the home team tunnel determined to play a different game. Lance Ball opened up the half with a 15-yard run and Tebow ignited the cheers from the home crowd with a 50-yard bomb to Jabar Gaffney. Correll Buckhalter scored his team's first points with 6-yard touchdown run on a draw play up the middle.

"We've got 30 minutes left and we've got to go out there and just play our game," Gaffney said of the halftime message. "We buckled down and went out there and made some plays, and we were able to pull it out."

Neither team punted the ball in the third quarter, when Neil Rackers scored two of his three field goals and set a new career high when he converted a 57-yard attempt. Hauschka hit a 27-yarder set up by a 41-yard catch by Brandon Lloyd, who had five catches for 111 yards in the game.

Denver gained momentum as the game went on, scoring two touchdowns and shutting out the Texans in the fourth quarter. Before Tebow's touchdown jaunt put Denver ahead, a touchdown reception by Buckhalter narrowed the gap to six points.

The Texans had sacked Tebow and forced a third-and-14 when the quarterback faked a pass to Eddie Royal on his right before tossing a screen pass to Buckhalter on his left. The 10-year veteran followed his blocks and then zipped to the middle of the field, scoring on a 23-yard catch and run.

"It was a fake to me the whole way," Royal said. "It was a great play call, it worked out exactly the way we wanted it to and Buck made a great play with his feet."

Buckhalter ended the day with 92 combined yards and two total touchdowns, filling in for Knowshon Moreno when the first-string runner left the contest with a rib injury.

"We know Buck's got that in him every game," Ryan Harris said. "He's a veteran running back who's still got a lot left in the tank and brings a lot of leadership and focus to the huddle."

The Texans got eye-popping performances out of their replacements as well. With their all-time leading receiver, Andre Johnson, on the sidelines with an ankle injury, the Texans got 115 receiving yards from Jacoby Jones and a game-high eight catches from Owen Daniels.

In a game decided by one point, Denver made more plays down the stretch and received a few lucky bounces, too. The Broncos recovered all four of their fumbles and came up with a turnover in the closing minutes.

Interim Head Coach Eric Studesville won his first game since his promotion, crediting his team's tireless persistence in the team's fourth victory of the season.

"I am happy for the men in this locker room," Studesville said. "They prepared and performed, and it is really a testament to the quality and the character of the men that we have on our football team and on our coaching staff."