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Wildest win ever? The Texans pull out a Thanksgiving classic with pluck and Andre Johnson dominance

Wildest win ever? The Texans pull out a Thanksgiving classic with pluck and Andre Johnson dominance

Calvin Johnson Texans
Yes, Calvin Johnson made this catch for a touchdown too. As usual, Texans cornerback Alan Ball can only look back in horror. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

DETROIT — How do you beat the Houston Texans? How do you ever beat the Houston Texans?

The rest of the NFL is surely starting to wonder.

For the Detroit Lions became the second straight team to push Gary Kubiak's team to the absolute brink in a national Thanksgiving showcase, only to walk away a devastated loser.

Texans 34, Lions 31. Do you believe in pluck?

Houston (now an NFL-best 10-1) surely does, winning this holiday classic of a game on determination even as they lost three different starters to injury, even as they appeared doomed to lose it — again and again and again.

Gary Kubiak's team rallied from a 10-point, second half deficit to force overtime in this wild, wacky and sometimes outright bizarre national Thanksgiving showcase.

Matt Schaub threw an interception on the Texans' second possession of overtime. Wade Phillips' usually-stout Bulls On Parade defense sprung leaks for the second straight game. And it still didn't matter.

Not with the Texans' offense making the plays that mattered most. Not with Houston driving for the game-winning field goal on its third possession of a crazy overtime.

Not with Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson flirting with 200 yards for the second straight game.

Not with the defense making just enough plays.

Matthew Stafford completed a 40-yard pass to rookie receiver Ryan Boyles on the first play of overtime. But Texans safety Danieal Manning struck again, forcing tight end Brandon Pettigrew to fumble moments later.

The Texans were primed to win the game, only needing a field goal to end it. When that field goal attempt was pushed back to 51 yards, Shayne Graham missed it just outside the left upright though.

Suddenly, the Lions were set up to win it, taking over at their own 41-yard line, only needing a field goal of their own to win it. Detroit ended up punting though.

Later, with only 4:32 left in overtime, Detroit kicker Jason Hanson missed a 47-yard field goal that would have won it for the Lions. This was the game that didn't want to end.

The Texans' vaunted defense has now given up 71 points in a span of five days. And still, they've won twice.

For the second straight game, the Texans would rally from a double digit second half deficit to force overtime. This time, they did it with a 15-play, 97-yard drive, picking the Lions apart when they needed it most.

Early in the drive, it looked like Schaub might be sacked in his own end zone. Instead, he went 8 for 12, accounting for 80 of the 97 yards on the monster drive.

Stafford looked like Aaron Rodgers on that Sunday nighter against the Texans, throwing for 441 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson (eight catches for 140 yards and a touchdown) kept victimizing the Texans' one-on-one coverage.

Texans receiver Andre Johnson was even more special himself with nine catches for 188 yards. 

Even a controversial 81-yard touchdown run from Justin Forsett that never should have been couldn't save the Texans.

The Lions' Thanksgiving tradition is older than 24 of the 32 NFL teams, dating back to the first year of the franchise in 1934. Of course, the Texans' entire franchise only dates back to 2002.

The Texans seemed to feel the weight of the stage early.

They committed a false start on their offensive play. They gained 10 yards total on their first three offensive series, going three and out each time. Keshawn Martin committed a silly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a return, negating a horrible Lions punt by costing his team 15 yards with a shove of a player jawing at him.

Defensive Troubles 

J.J. Watt sacked Stafford on the first offensive play of the game, but the defensive fun didn't last.

Facing a third-and-17 on his own 13-yard line, Stafford had all the time in the world and he took advantage of it to throw a 25-yard strike to Ryan Broyles. Suddenly, the Lions' offense was off and rolling. Calvin Johnson stretched every bit of his 6-foot-5 frame to make an impossible low catch in which he somehow kept the ball from scrapping the turf.

That went for 20 yards. Another third-and-long conversion — a 10-yard pass to tight end Tony Scheffler — that set the Lions up at the 2-yard line that ensured Detroit a touchdown though.

Calvin Johnson would have more 100 receiving yards by halftime as Phillips insisted on playing him 1-on-1 (mostly with journeyman cornerback Alan Ball, who was thrust into the starting lineup with all-pro Johnathan Joseph sidelined). 

The Lions had 31 points and more 400 yards of offense with more than 13 minutes remaining in the game. This coming one week after 1-9 Jacksonville torched Phillips' defense for 37 points.