Beyond the Boxscore

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are inferior to Matt Schaub now: Doubted QB absolutely owns 2012

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are inferior to Matt Schaub now: Doubted QB absolutely owns 2012

Andre Johnson Jaguars celebrating
The Texans are feeling it. Even the usually-quiet Andre Johnson is screaming. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Matt Schaub Chris Myers
All because Matt Schaub stood tall in the pocket and show why no quarterback is more elite than him in 2012. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Andre Johnson catch Jags
Andre Johnson did the heavy lifting with 14 catches. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Garrett Graham Texans Jags
But Matt Schaub spread the ball around to nine different receivers, including tight end Garrett Graham, who caught two touchdown passes. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Gary Kubiak Jaguars
How much does a wild 43-37 overtime game take out of a coach? Look at Gary Kubiak post victory. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Matt Schaub Jaguars huddle
With Matt Schaub completing 78 percent of his passes on a day when he'd 55 times, the Texans had enough though. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Matt Schaub Gary Kubiak
Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak have been through plenty together. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Andre Johnson Texans Jaguars
And they both know there is no sweeter sight than seeing Andre Johnson running free. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Andre Johnson Jaguars celebrating
Matt Schaub Chris Myers
Andre Johnson catch Jags
Garrett Graham Texans Jags
Gary Kubiak Jaguars
Matt Schaub Jaguars huddle
Matt Schaub Gary Kubiak
Andre Johnson Texans Jaguars

With his last responsibility of the day done, with a performance for the ages in the books and his interviews complete, Matt Schaub walks through the locker room, tapping on his iPhone. Someone calls out, "Congratulations Matt!"

The quarterback doesn't break stride. He doesn't even look up.

Schaub isn't about making friends this season. He could care less where this places him among the best quarterbacks in the game, if he'll now be mentioned when Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are fawned over on national TV. No. 8 just wants to control games — and push his team toward the promised land.

No one in the NFL is doing that better than Schaub this season. Period. Not Brady, not Manning, not Eli Manning, not Aaron Rodgers.

This 527-yard, five-touchdown comeback bolt should knock everyone over the head with this truth. But it's been one before Schaub saves the Texans from a potentially homefield-advantage-stealing defeat, before he rains down Andre Johnson on the stunned Jacksonville Jaguars and steals a 43-37 overtime win that shows the league this Houston team can beat you anyway it needs to beat you.

 Quarterbacks who throw the ball 55 times don't complete 78 percent of their passes. That's absurd. That's Matt  Schaub in 2012.

"There's something about him," Johnson says of Schaub. "He just has a look in his eye on gameday. I don't know what it is. He's just focused."

Schaub's focus has the Texans believing like never before. After dancing with defeat for almost 73 minutes of football — almost four hours of real time — defensive end Antonio Smith runs into the locker room, screaming, "How are they going to beat us now? How are they going to beat us now?"

"Everyone was yelling something," left tackle Duane Brown says. "Everyone was happy. It was pretty crazy."

The Texans can beat a top team in a low-scoring, crawl of a game in the sideways rain of Chicago. They can beat a putrid underdog or a prime contender (see Denver) in a crazy shootout too.

No team in the NFL is more complete. And a lot of it starts with No. 8.

Seizing the stage

Schaub's arm is all over these 9-1 Texans' biggest moments. From the ear game in Denver when he went Peyton Manning before Peyton ever could, to the throw to Arian Foster in the Windy City, to this . . . an absolute seizing of a game the Texans deserved to lose.

He just keeps focusing — and staring the will right out of the other guys.

 "That's the kind of stuff that's hard for you guys (in the media) to see. He's keeping everyone poised out there." 

"(Schaub) is in total control of the team under that crazy type of pressure," tight end Owen Daniels says. "No situation is too big for him. He's just kind of eyeing you like he's got it. We've got it.

"That's the kind of stuff that's hard for you guys (in the media) to see. He's keeping everyone poised out there."

Amid all the craziness, the chaos and the furor, defensive line coach Bill Kollar (who spent the Chicago game stuck in the hospital with blood clots) jokes that the team is trying to put him back in the emergency ward. Which triggers an almost Charlie Brown-worthy, "Oh Coach Kollar" from J.J. Watt in the postgame.

But Schaub? He's just stone cold locked in, even after throwing two interceptions, including one in overtime that would have brought all but a handful of quarterbacks in this league to their knees.

Texans owner Bob McNair calls the win "beautiful." But center Chris Myers' description rings even truer.

"I call it downright determination," Myers says.

That's Matt Schaub. Almost to a man, these Texans feel like they should have been in the AFC Championship Game last January (just watch a replay of their second round game, they clearly outplayed Baltimore in that heart-wrenching defeat). But Schaub knows they would have been there if he hadn't gotten his foot crushed in Week 10.

 Take it from Andre Johnson. You don't mess with that pregame stare. 

He'll never say it so starkly in public. That's not his way. But he's playing like it. No. 8 is driving the bus, pushing his team back toward the mountaintop. And everyone in the locker room knows it.

When it's over, when the almost giddy yelling has quieted down and the media is allowed into the locker room, veteran wide receiver Kevin Walter takes a moment to walk across the aisle and pull Schaub into a half-hug handshake. Walter tells the quarterback how clutch he played, how Walter himself is honored to play with him. Schaub smiles his thanks.

This is the type of scene you see in Denver, where the Broncos trip over themselves to sing Peyton Manning's praises.

And Matt Schaub deserves every moment of it.

"I get kind of tired of defending him to the national media," tailback Arian Foster says. "I feel like he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He throws one of the best balls in the game and he's week in and week out consistent.

". . . Every time we ask him to pass, he does what he did today."

Forty three completions in 55 attempts for the second most passing yards in a single game in NFL history, touchdowns to four different receivers, getting nine different receivers involved in the passing game overall . . . Foster never should have to defend Schaub again.

Quarterbacks who throw the ball 55 times don't complete 78 percent of their passes. That's absurd. That's Matt Schaub in 2012.

Sure, Brady threw for 331 yards and watched his team rack up 59 points against Andrew Luck and those pluckish Colts on Sunday. And yes, Manning tossed three more touchdowns while delivering another lesson in everything Philip Rivers lacks.

But neither superstar is quite playing at the level Matt Schaub is. Neither man is giving his team quite this much belief.

"Down 14 (points) in the fourth quarter, you've got to go make plays," Schaub says, like it's as simple as that.

Take it from Andre Johnson. You don't mess with that pregame stare.

2012 is the Year of Matt Schaub. For once, everyone else is the pretender now.