Third-and-10 from the Houston 20: Quarterback Peyton Manning’s third-down pass to running back Willis McGahee was caught, but he was tackled 4 yards short of the first-down mark. Kicker Matt Prater came on and converted the 32-yard field goal to put Denver ahead 5-0, but the Broncos would have liked to get seven, not three out of the drive that followed a safety.
Third-and-4 from the Houston 9: With Houston backed up deep in its own territory, running back Arian Foster picked up 8 yards to extend the Texans’ drive. Eleven plays later, Foster caught a pass from quarterback Matt Schaub in the flat and ran into the end zone to give the Texans a 14-5 lead.
Third-and-9 from the Denver 38: Driving late in the first half, Schaub targeted wide receiver Kevin Walter as he was being hit by Dumervil. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard jumped the route and made the one-handed interception – the second of his career. That turnover thwarted the Texans’ drive and led to a 53-yard field goal by Matt Prater at the end of the half.
Third-and-7 from the Denver 33: Manning found wide receiver Eric Decker open deep down the field for a 36-yard catch into Houston territory, but the play was negated due to a holding penalty. Guard Manny Ramirez was flagged on the play and instead of a long gain on third down, it created a third-and-17. After an incomplete pass, the Broncos were forced to punt.
First-and-10 from the Denver 48: Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson knocked the ball out of running back Ben Tate’s hands and defensive tackle Justin Bannan pounced on the fumble to turn the ball over to the Broncos. Two plays later, the Broncos began their fourth-quarter comeback as wide receiver Brandon Stokley made a 38-yard touchdown catch.
Fourth-and-16 from the Houston 45: Facing a fourth-and-long, Manning’s pass fell incomplete, but a flag for illegal contact against Texans cornerback Brice McCain gave the Broncos new life on the drive. Six plays later, the Broncos hit paydirt when tight end Joel Dreessen corralled a deflected pass.
Third-and-5 from the Houston 25: With Denver out of timeouts and just 2:49 on the clock the defense needed a stop on third down to give the offense a chance to drive down the field for a potential game-winning score. Schaub managed to find wide receiver Andre Johnson just past the sticks for a 12-yard gain, extending the Texans’ drive and draining the clock down to :33 by the time they gave the ball back to the Broncos.