Texans beat Broncos 19-17, Denver falls to 3-6 at the bye

Nov 4, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum (4) throws the ball under pressure from Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) in the second quarter at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon McManus missed a 51-yard field goal late to win the game as the Houston Texans beat the Denver Broncos 19-17 on Sunday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

Attempting to rebound from last Sunday’s 30-23 loss to Kansas City, Denver’s defense took the field first against the Houston offense and gave up two straight receptions of 31 and 18 yards to former Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas against his former team. Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson started the scoring with a floating touchdown to the back-left corner of the North end zone to Jordan Thomas to push Houston ahead 7-0. Denver’s offense trotted out after the score to a quick three-and-out.

The Broncos finally got on the board with a field goal from 44-yards out by Brandon McManus. But, after Devontae Booker fumbled in Broncos territory on their next offensive drive, Denver’s defense was caught out of position on a 16-yard touchdown reception by DeAndre Hopkins, pushing Houston’s lead to 13-3.

Denver’s offense, however, answered and in a strong way. Keenum was 3-3 on the drive for 73 yards. A drive capped off by a 14-yard touchdown run by Devontae Booker to make it 13-10.

Houston’s offense once again sputtered after a DeMarcus Walker sack and Denver got to near mid-field before stalling. Head coach Vance Joseph elected for a 62-yard field goal with 18 seconds left. McManus missed wide-right and gave the Texans good field position.

After icing the kicker — on a miss — Houston’s kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn nailed the second attempt from 46-yards out to take a 16-10 Houston lead into halftime.

Midway through the third quarter, Denver went on a 12-play, 81-yard drive that chewed up 5:51 on the clock, finishing on a Keenum 12-yard needle thread touchdown pass to Heuerman. McManus’ extra-point gave Denver the lead for the first time in the game 17-16. Heuerman finished his career day with 10 receptions for 83 receiving yards and a touchdown, all career highs.

Playing with the lead, Denver went after the quarterback in the third quarter as Von Miller collected his first sack of the game. The Broncos stopped the Texans on the ensuing play, however a holding penalty on Su’a Cravens kept Houston alive.

As the third quarter flipped to the fourth, Denver’s pressure was once again on Watson. Bradley Chubb sacked the Houston quarterback for his eighth sack of the year. The drive concluded with a Texans field goal to take the lead, 19-17.

Denver got to the quarterback early and often, sacking Watson two times on Sunday.

After the Texans kicked a field goal to take the lead, Houston’s pass rush got to Keenum as Jadeveon Clowney sacked Keenum on third down of the ensuring Broncos drive. The Broncos were forced to punt the ball back with 11:59 left, trailing by two points.

Denver’s defense certainly was stout in the second half. The Texans offense finished 0-5 on third down in the second half, scoring only three points.

That set the stage for Keenum and the Broncos offense. With 3:29 in the fourth quarter, Keenum took the ball at the 14-yard line needing a field goal to win. Completions to Heuerman, DeVontae Booker and Emmanuel Sanders on the drive set up McManus from 51 yards, which he missed wide-right. Keenum finished the game 26-42 for 290 yards and a touchdown.

What’s Next:

The Denver Broncos now have several decisions to make as the bye week approaches. With the long week, Denver won’t play until Nov. 18, when they visit the Los Angeles Chargers.