Schaub’s INT changed momentum in loss

Schaub’s INT changed momentum in loss
December 22, 2013, 6:00 pm
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Schaub on 1st INT: 'I probably forced that one'

(USA Today Images)

It wasn’t a pick-6 but it was pretty darn close.

Matt Schaub, who lost his starting job this season in large part because of his propensity for throwing interceptions in inopportune times, did it again on Sunday against the Broncos.

The Texans were down just three points when, on the second play of the fourth quarter, Schaub scrambled to his right and tried to force the ball into the arms of DeAndre Hopkins.

Instead, it ended up in the hands of Denver cornerback Mike Adams who toe tapped his way to stay in bounds. Two plays later, Peyton Manning threw a touchdown pass and the Broncos never looked back in a 37-13 win.

“It is a huge blow, when we turn it over and give up a touchdown,” safety D.J. Swearinger said. “It’s a dagger and it puts a dagger in your energy and we just couldn’t bounce back from then.”

Until that point, the Texans’ offense showed some second-half signs of life and their defense had been shutting down Manning and the Broncos’ offense. But that play, and a few key others, changed the momentum and the outcome of the game as they Texans dropped their 13th in a row.

At his postgame press conference, Schaub – making his first start since mid-October – admitted that he tried to force that pass to Hopkins and said he probably would have been better off throwing it away “but in this type of game we ought to go out and try to make plays.”

Hopkins said that interception was a result of a lack of chemistry. For the eight previous weeks, Case Keenum has started for the Texans, which means playing in games but also getting first-team reps during practice.

“We haven’t practiced together in a while so it’s just chemistry,” Hopkins explained. “I kind of thought he was going to throw it to the sideline coming back and I guess he kind of thought I was going to turn inside. It’s just chemistry.”

Hopkins said the chemistry wasn’t lacking during the week of practice but this wasn’t the designed play. On this particular play, Schaub was scrambling so it was an off-schedule play, something the team doesn’t practice.

But even as Schaub and the offense turned the ball over to the Broncos on their own 28-yard line, the defense didn’t do its part either. It took Manning and the Broncos just two plays to score and go up 10 points. On the first play, Knowshon Moreno ran for 18 yards. On the second play, Manning hit Eric Decker for a 10-yard touchdown strike.
 
“The mindset was to outplay their defense, get the ball back for our offense,” safety Shiloh Keo said. “That’s always the mindset for the defensive player whenever there’s a turnover. At that point, hey, they earned three points. It’s our job to keep them away from getting six and we failed at that.”

While the Schaub turnover was brutal, the Texans had a chance to tie the game on their previous possession and failed then too. They marched down the field all the way to the Denver 28-yard line but then the protection broke down. Schaub was sacked twice and the Texans were forced out of field goal range in a three-point game.

Schaub threw for just 176 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, good for a passer rating of 48.9. But his first interception was the killer. It wasn’t a pick-6. But it was close.

“It’s frustrating because that’s kind of how our season’s been going,” Keo said. “We’ve been playing great games but not full games. To add another one to the long list of losses, it’s frustrating. We just have to find a way to get over that hump.”