Houston Andre Johnson saved the Houston Texans and their shaky defense again.
Johnson caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Matt Schaub with 28 seconds left to give Houston a stunning fourth-quarter comeback in the Texans’ 35-31 victory over the Chiefs on Sunday.
The Texans (4-2) scored touchdowns on their final four possessions to make up for another rocky day for the defense. Houston gave up 228 yards rushing, could not force a turnover and yielded a 100-yard receiver for the fifth time in six games.
“We’ve got to tackle better, we’ve got to cover better, we’ve got to do everything better,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. “We’re really struggling. The key right now is we’ve got to play really big offensively as a team.”
To make matters worse, All-Pro linebacker DeMeco Ryans was lost for the season when he ruptured his left Achilles’ tendon late in the first half.
The Texans seemed to be on their way to losing the game, too, trailing 31-21 with just over seven minutes left.
But Schaub threw two long passes to Owen Daniels and Arian Foster scored with 3:30 left to cut the Chiefs’ lead to 3. The Texans QB went 9-for-15 in the fourth quarter.
“Our quarterback was absolutely spectacular,” Kubiak said. “You can’t win games like that in this league unless your quarterback is special, and ours was special today.”
Houston regained possession after a punt with just over two minutes left. Schaub found Johnson across the middle for a 15-yard gain, then hit him down the sideline for 31 more to the Chiefs 24.
Five plays later, Schaub eluded the rush and found Johnson open in the back of the end zone. Johnson, still nursing a sprained right ankle, caught eight passes for 138 yards.
“Once we get into a rhythm as an offense,” Johnson said, “we can go out and score points.”
The Texans rebounded from a 34-10 loss to the New York Giants and now head into a much-needed open week.
“We didn’t want to go into the bye week 3-3,” Johnson said. “Guys were determined that no matter what happened, we were going to go out and get this victory.”
Matt Cassel threw three touchdown passes for the Chiefs (3-2), who were trying to bounce back from 19-9 loss to Indianapolis and failed in their bid to match the team’s best start since 1998.
“We’re not there yet. We’re in a process,” second-year coach Todd Haley said. “It takes time, but we continue to make positive strides.”
Johnson, meanwhile, has been saying all along that the Texans are ready for a breakthrough season.
“In the past, if we were in a game like this, we wouldn’t have come out victorious,” Johnson said. “I think we have grown up as a football team and we can go out and win games like this.”
Houston also came back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Washington in Week 2. Johnson caught a 34-yard pass from Schaub to force overtime in that one, and Neil Rackers kicked a 35-yard field goal to win it.
The Chiefs seemed to have control Sunday after scoring on their first three possessions in the second half.
Cassel was sharper than he’s been all season, completing 20 of 29 passes without an interception against the Texans’ NFL-worst pass defense. Dwayne Bowe made two TD catches and finished with six receptions for 108 yards.
“At a number of different points in the game, we felt we were in control,” Cassel said. “We were confident about where we were in the game. We were playing a great opponent, and their offense just continued to come back and come back.”
Kansas City led 14-7 at halftime, then marched 77 yards in nine plays early in the third quarter. Bowe caught a slant pass from Cassel and weaved through Houston’s defense for a 42-yard touchdown with 8:19 left in the quarter.
The Texans had mustered only 52 yards rushing before Derrick Ward raced 38 yards for a touchdown on Houston’s next series.
The Chiefs then continued to pick up chunks of yards against the Texans’ fifth-ranked rushing defense.
Dexter McCluster gained 20 yards on a reverse and Jones picked up 19 more early in Kansas City’s next series. Ryan Succop kicked a 24-yard field goal with 2:58 left in the third quarter for a 24-14 lead.
Vonta Leach returned the ensuing kickoff across midfield, setting up a short touchdown run by Foster with 12:10 left in the game.
But Bowe converted a third down with a 9-yard reception near midfield, and the Chiefs were moving again. Jones ran 10 yards and was shoved out of bounds by Texans safety Bernard Pollard for a 15-yard penalty. Jones scored on the next play.
Notes: The Texans have allowed a 100-yard receiver in five of six games this season. ... Mike Vrabel has 10 career receptions, all for touchdowns. ... Jones has 33 career 100-yard rushing games. ... Ward has scored a TD in three consecutive games for the first time in his career.