KICKOFF: After deferring the coin toss, the Broncos will receive to start the second half.
Q3 15:00: Perrish Cox takes a knee in the end zone for a touchback to start the half. Tim Tebow and the offense take over at their own 20-yard line. On first down, Tebow pitches to Lance Ball, who pushes a defender the final 5 yards of his 15-yard gain. Texans defensive tackle Shaun Cody is down after the play, but he walks to the sideline under his own power.
Q3 14:46: On the ensuing first down, Tebow fakes a handoff then fires deep down the middle of the field to a streaking Jabar Gaffney, who runs under the pass and hauls it in at the 15-yard line. On the next play, Tebow hands off to Correll Buckhalter, who finds a hole in the middle of the line and picks up 9 yards. On second-and-1, Denver calls its first timeout of the half.
Q3 12:58: Buckhalter takes a carry on the next play and bursts forward for the final 6 yards into the end zone. Steven Hauschka’s extra point is up and in, and the Broncos are on the board.
TEXANS 17, BRONCOS 7
Q3 12:57: After Hauschka’s kickoff was downed for a touchback, Arian Foster takes a carry 10 yards for a first down at the 30.
*INJURY REPORT* Knowshon Moreno has a rib injury and is probable to return.
Q3 12:10: After an incompletion, Houston has a second-and-10 at the 30. Matt Schaub gets a screen pass off to Foster on a bit of a misdirection play, and the NFL’s leading rusher sprints down the sideline to the Denver 42. On the ensuing first down, Derrick Ward gets a carry, and he’s stopped after a gain of 3. On the next play, Schaub fires a pass that falls incomplete, but Champ Bailey ran into the intended receiver and hops off the field, apparently in pain, where trainers meet him. On third down, Schaub finds Owen Daniels, but he’s hit hard by Andre’ Goodman short of the first down. Neil Rackers is in to attempt a long field goal, and he splits the uprights on the 54-yarder.
TEXANS 20, BRONCOS 7
**INJURY UPDATE** Champ Bailey has an ankle injury and is questionable to return.
Q3 10:14: Tebow fires to his left and finds Brandon Lloyd for an 18-yard completion to the 38-yard line on first down. On the ensuing play, the rookie quarterback fakes a handoff before firing deep to Lloyd, who leaps up and over his defender — as he has done all season — and hauls in the long bomb at the 21-yard line. It’s a 41-yard reception.
Q3 8:37: Lance Ball takes a handoff on the next play, picking up 10 yards and another first down at the 11-yard line. Now first down again, Tebow is in the shotgun. He drops back and fires too far out of the back of the end zone. On second down, Ball gets another carry, and he’s dropped after a gain of 2. Now third-and-8 at the 9-yard line, Tebow lines up in the shotgun. He takes the snap and drops back quickly before firing too far — Eddie Royal hauls in the pass, but he was already out of the back of the end zone. Steven Hauschka is in to attempt a 27-yard field goal, and it’s good.
TEXANS 20, BRONCOS 10
Q3 7:06: Steve Slaton fields Hauschka’s kickoff a yard deep in the end zone and gets it out to the 20-yard line before he’s tackled by Eric Decker. Champ Bailey is not on the field as the defense steps in. On first down, Marcus Thomas is there to sniff out a screen pass to Owen Daniels after just 2 yards. On second down, Schaub finds Kevin Walter between a few defenders for a first down. Arian Foster finds the sideline on the following play, picking up another first down at the Houston 47-yard line. Marcus Thomas walks off the field flanked by trainers after the play.
Q3 5:21: Schaub finds Jacoby Jones for another first down on the next play — an 11-yard gain. Perrish Cox sprints into the backfield to take down Foster in space on the ensuing first down, making it second-and-11. Schaub floats a pass downfield that falls incomplete — but there’s a flag on the play. It’s pass interference on the Texans, pushing the ball back 10 yards. Now Houston faces at second-and-21 at their own 47-yard line. Schaub takes the snap, drops back and gets the ball to Derrick Ward just as Robert Ayers was about to notch a sack. The running back finds a little space and picks up 10 yards. On third-and-11, Schaub lines up in the shotgun. He drops back and connects with Joel Dreessen, but the tight end is short of the first down marker. Now Neil Rackers is in to attempt a 57-yard field goal, and it’s good — his new career long.
TEXANS 23, BRONCOS 10
Q3 2:34: Cox fields Rackers’ kickoff at about the 4-yard line, and returns it to the 26-yard line, where the offense takes over. Tebow lines up in the shotgun on first down and gets the ball to Ball on a screen pass. The running back sprints for a first down at the 39-yard line. On the next first down, Tebow fakes a handoff before rolling to his left and throwing a pass that is short of Lloyd and nearly intercepted, but it falls incomplete. On second down, Tebow hands off to Buckhalter, who finds some room and pushes defenders forward close to the first-down marker. The Broncos have a first down at their own 49. The following play is a handoff to Buckhalter in the backfield that was nearly broken up by Darryl Sharpton and results in a 4-yard loss to bring the third quarter to a close.
Q4 15:00: On second-and-14 to start the fourth quarter, Tebow avoids one sack but is brought down by a second Texan — Mark Anderson — for a loss of 8. There’s a flag on the field — holding on the defense. That’s a 5-yard penalty and automatic first down. So rather than third-and-22, the Broncos have a first-and-10 at midfield. On the following play, Tebow hands off to Buckhalter, but he’s stopped after a gain of 1. Second-and-9 brings a rollout by Tebow as he avoids pressure, but he throws short of Jabar Gaffney for an incompletion. Now third-and-9, Tebow buys time in the pocket before firing to Lloyd on the sideline for an 18-yard gain and a first down. Lloyd now has 1,360 receiving yards this season — the second highest total in franchise history.
Q4 12:58: Buckhalter takes a carry 7 yards to the 24-yard line on first down, and Houston calls timeout before the Broncos run their second-down play. Now second-and-3, Tebow takes a quarterback draw for the first down.
Q4 12:13: Tebow fumbles the snap on the following play, but recovers it for a loss of a yard. On second-and-11 at the 20, Tebow lines up in the shotgun. He drops back and tries to take off up the middle of the field, but he’s hit and sacked by two Texans. That makes it third-and-14 at the 23. Tebow fakes a screen to his right before spinning around and throwing a screen to Buckhalter down the left sideline. The running back follows his blockers then cuts back inside and sprints into the end zone for his second touchdown of the day. The 23-yard score is followed by Hauschka’s extra point, and the Broncos are within six points.
TEXANS 23, BRONCOS 17
Q4 10:55: Slaton fields Hauschka’s kickoff 7-yards deep in the end zone, and takes a knee for a touchback. Lee Robinson is down after the special teams play.
Q4 10:54: The crowd is making a lot of noise as the Texans start with a first down at the 20. Robert Ayers hit Matt Schaub hard as he let loose a pass intended for Owen Daniels that falls incomplete. On second down, Schaub finds Jacoby Jones for a quick first down at the 32. On the ensuing first down, Schaub hands off to Foster, who tries to find a hole but is swallowed up by a pack of Broncos let by Kevin Vickerson. It’s a gain of 2 on the run. Second down brings a pass from Schaub to Foster, who picks up the first down at the 45-yard line.
INJURY UPDATE: Lee Robinson has a hamstring injury and is doubtful to return.
Q4 8:45: Foster takes a carry on first down and picks up 3 yards. On second down, Schaub throws to Jones, but Goodman is there to swat the pass away. Now third-and-7, Schaub lines up under center. He takes the snap and fakes a handoff to Foster before firing short of any receiver — looks like some miscommunication there — to bring up fourth down. Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale raised both hands in celebration on the sideline as Eddie Royal jogs onto the field to return Matt Turk’s punt. It’s a short punt that takes a Broncos bounce and is downed at the 24-yard line.
Q4 7:42: On first down, Tebow nearly finds Richard Quinn but the pass falls incomplete. On second-and-10, Buckhalter takes a carry but is swallowed up for no gain. Now third-and-10, Tebow lines up in the shotgun. He takes the snap and fires to Buckhalter, who takes advantage of a block by Eric Decker to pick up 22 yards on the reception for a first down at the Denver 46-yard line. Houston calls its second timeout of the half before Denver can run its next play.
Q4 6:08: On the ensuing first down, Tebow rolls out and fires deep to Gaffney, but the receiver can’t quite adjust to the pass toward the sideline and it falls incomplete. Second-and-10 brings a pass from Tebow to Lloyd, who hauls it in between two Texan defenders for a first down. At the Houston 39-yard line, Tebow takes the snap from under center and fakes a handoff before firing to Gaffney, who brings in the pass with one hand near the first-down marker, much to the delight of the crowd. On second-and-2, Buckhalter takes a carry for a first down at the 27-yard line.
Q4 4:08: On the ensuing first down, Tebow rolls to his left and no defender accounted for him so he takes off running downfield, picking up a first down at the 16-yard line. Denver calls its second timeout of the half.
Q4 4:00: On first down, Tebow takes the snap from the shotgun with an empty backfield. He takes off running on a quarterback draw and nearly breaks away, but he’s tripped up at the 10-yard line. On second-and-4, Tebow drops back and fires too high for Royal in the corner of the end zone, bringing up third down.
Q4 3:21: On third-and-4 at the 10, Tebow tries to find Royal in the end zone, but it falls incomplete — however, there’s a flag on the play in the end zone. It’s pass interference on the Texans, giving Denver a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Before the next play, however, the Broncos are called for a false start. The offense asks the crowd to quiet down before their first-and-goal play from the 6-yard line. Tebow takes the snap in the shotgun and throws too high for Royal incomplete. On second down, Tebow takes the snap and runs to his left for the touchdown. He flexes in the end zone as Daniel Graham celebrates with the rookie and the rest of his teammates rush to congratulate him. The score ties the game, and Hauschka’s extra point gives the Broncos their first lead of the game.
BRONCOS 24, TEXANS 23
Q4 3:02: Slaton runs out from 5 yards deep in the end zone only to be tackled at the 17-yard line. Schaub’s first-down pass looks to be tipped at the line before falling incomplete. It was Jamal Williams with the deflection. On second down, Schaub finds his tight end, Joel Dreeseen, for a first down at the 30-yard line. The crowd is back on its feet as Schaub drops back to throw on first down — and he finds another tight end, Owen Daniels, for another first down at the 45-yard line. The Texans hurry to the line and Schaub finds a tight end again — but Dawkins is there to make him fumble, but the ball goes out of bounds. The refs huddle, however, and decide that Owen Daniels never had control of the ball and it’s an incompletion. That brings the game to the two-minute warning, and you could hear Daniels exclaim, “I caught that!” in the ref’s microphone.
Q4 1:59: On second-and-10, the crowd at INVESCO Field at Mile High is fired up. Schaub takes the snap in the shotgun and finds his tight end again — Dreessen picks up another first down in Broncos territory. Schaub hits Foster on the following play, but Renaldo Hill is right there to bring down the back after a gain of just a yard. On second-and-9 at the 39-yard line, Schaub is in the shotgun. He takes the snap and throws a pass that is tipped at the line and is intercepted by Syd’Quan Thompson. His teammates mob him as he falls to the ground to give the Broncos offense the ball. It was Justin Bannan that tipped it.
Q4 1:12: Tebow takes a knee on first down and the Texans call their final timeout to stop the clock. Tebow simply takes two more knees to bring the game to a close and seal the rookie’s first win as a starting quarterback in the NFL. The win moves the Broncos to 4-11 with one final home game remaining in the season against the San Diego Chargers.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com