As the research analyst for NFL Network's NFL RedZone, Elliot Harrison watched all 267 games in the 2010 season. We asked him to rank the 20 most memorable.
Trailing 27-20 with just over two minutes remaining in the game, fourth and 10, and everyone in FedEx Field going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, the Houston Texans needed a big play.
Matt Schaub looked over the Washington Redskins' defense to see what the coverage would be on Andre Johnson's side of the field. Johnson had already torn up the Redskins in the second half, so if Schaub saw the NFL's best receiver bracketed, he would have to go to the other side of the field and hope someone was open.
On the snap of the ball, the Redskins sent five defenders to rush, a gutsy move by defensive coordinator Jim Haslett that left Schaub little time to look for his options.
Rolling to his right, Schaub smoothly looked to that side of the field where two Texans wideouts were mid-pattern, just enough to suck nickel corner Philip Buchanon away from Johnson on the left side. Schaub suddenly heaved the ball across his body towards the end zone, where safety Reed Doughty was all alone awaiting a jump ball with you-know-who.
What must Doughty have been thinking as it floated downward?
"Maybe Johnson has no ups."
"I've got no ups."
Johnson plucked Schaub's heave out of the air as Doughty fell helplessly and just like that it was 27-all. A back-and-forth game that featured more than 1,000 yards of offense was going into overtime, but not without previous help.
For starters, the Texans blocked a field goal in the fourth quarter to keep the game within seven at 27-20. Prior to that, Donovan McNabb did everything he could to put the game away, completing deep balls to Joey Galloway and Fred Davis to set up touchdown drives. McNabb would finish with 426 yards passing ... 71 behind Schaub.
But Houston crawled back, even overcoming a 17-point second-half deficit. The comeback almost fell short in overtime when the Redskins' Graham Gano made a 52-yard field goal. That's when we all found out on the NFL RedZone stage that Texans coach Gary Kubiak had called a timeout just before thesnap. It was the classic Daniel-san learning from Mr. Miyagi. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had done that many times while in Denver, with his trusty assistant coach, Kubiak, by his side.
Now the student had worked one over the teacher, as Gano missed (badly) on his second attempt. The Texans took the good field position, pick up a couple of first downs, and send Neil Rackers out for the winning field-goal attempt.
Boneheaded play of the game
Gano brought back less-than-lovely memories of Shaun Suisham for Redskins fans at times last season. But to quote Han Solo, "It's not my fault!" Well, it wasn't Gano's fault, either. The Redskins' special teams failed to block Texans safety Bernard Pollard coming around the corner and, thus, the 'Skins missed out on three important points.
Darrelle Revis was on the money when he called Johnson a "beast." Johnson's leaping touchdown grab with just a shade over two minutes to go -- on fourth and 10 no less -- to keep Houston in the game was just one more example in a thousand.
Same 'ol situation
The Texans' pass defense would continue to get burned all season long. McNabb continued to miss open receivers all season, even the likes of the 65-year-old Joey Galloway. But at least this one traveled 70 yards in the air.
Why is this game No. 18 of 2010?
This interconference meeting was an offensive explosion of the highest order. And any time you have a game in which one guy can take over, or a tandem -- like Schaub and Johnson -- it adds to the experience. Especially with a guy like Johnson, who is one of the most dominant players in the NFL.
Despite the fact neither would be a playoff team, all of the deep balls and the crowd going crazy for four hours made this an easy inclusion into our top 20.
Why not higher?
Time to contradict myself. The fact that both of these clubs ended up being pretty bad prevented this game from moving up the list. Week 2 games don't generate the buzz that a Week 15 contest does. In fact, the Texans would be involved in a couple other crazy affairs that would rival this one. What are your thoughts?