Texans vs. Broncos: Houston Dominates Denver, Then Hangs on for Dear Life

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistSeptember 23, 2012

Schaub led the Texans in more ways than one.
Schaub led the Texans in more ways than one.Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

The Houston Texans are the best team in the AFC.

After a tough but thorough 31-25 victory over the Denver Broncos, there can be no debate that the Texans are the most complete team in the conference through three weeks.

They made a statement in Week 3, exerting their will over Denver through a bevy of big-strike offensive plays.

Despite a late charge by the Broncos offense to tighten the score, Houston was in firm control most of the day. There would be no late-game magic from Peyton Manning on this day, and despite two fourth-quarter touchdown throws from the great, the Texans' big lead held up.

The game served as a referendum on Matt Schaub, who made a case to be considered one of the league's best signal-callers thanks to a gritty and oft-spectacular effort that saw him hit both Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter on long touchdowns.

Schaub also shook off a pair of savage hits by the Broncos. On consecutive plays, he was roughed up, once having his helmet completely knocked off to open up a gash in his left ear. Schaub reentered the game and helped the Texans to the victory with 290 yards passing and four touchdowns on the day.

The Texans defense came to play as well, harassing Manning for most of the game. J.J. Watt continued his remarkable run of late with 2.5 of the three total sacks on Manning.

Though the Texans are known for their run game, it was big passing plays that were the order of the day. Schaub hit passes of 52, 60, 46 and 27 yards, accounting for 185 of his 290 yards passing. Denver's defense struggled with assignments all afternoon, and each time there was a blown coverage, Schaub looked to take advantage.

With the game on the line, Schaub hit his most important pass of the day, a quick 12-yard toss to Andre Johnson to give Houston a key first down with 2:49 to play. Thanks to that throw, Houston was able to all but extinguish the clock and deny Manning a realistic chance for the comeback.

The victory moves the Texans to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history and leaves them as the lone undefeated team in the AFC. Thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars' win over the Indianapolis Colts, they now sport a two-game lead in the AFC South.

The Texans face a tough run in the next four weeks, but with three home games on the slate, they could be looking at a 6-1 start at the least as they head into the bye.