Peyton Manning comes up short, Texans beat Broncos 31-25

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That touchdown pass came about 10 minutes after Schaub was leveled by Joe Mays, which resulted in Denver’s second consecutive roughing-the-passer penalty and, eventually, a Texans field goal for a 24-11 lead. Schaub came out for a play and had a big, bloody mark on his left ear.

“I felt fine,” Schaub said. “I just lost a piece of my ear. I was bleeding and my helmet came off. So, I had to come out for a play, but I was fine.”

Manning had his ups and downs — making some throws to prove the arm strength is certainly there, but also coming up short on a couple of those 18-yard out patterns that are as routine for NFL quarterbacks as making the bed.

His best downfield throw was the 38-yard touchdown to Brandon Stokley that pulled the Broncos within 31-18 with 9:49 left. His second score was a 6-yard touchdown that ricocheted into Joel Dreessen’s hands with 3 minutes left.

There were no interceptions, but that’s not to say Houston didn’t have its way with the 36-year-old quarterback, who came into the game with 42 career touchdowns against the team he started beating when it was in its expansion season, back in 2002.

Manning’s biggest headache in this one was second-year defensive end J.J. Watt, who finished with 2 1/2 sacks and forced a holding call in the third quarter that nullified a 36-yard gain.

“I don’t see those numbers of defensive linemen as much. You are looking downfield,” Manning said. “I’m probably the wrong guy to ask how he played.”

Arian Foster finished with 105 yards on 25 carries for Houston. The Texans converted on four third downs and went 97 yards to take a 14-5 lead when Schaub hit Foster, being covered by defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson, for a 3-yard score that Foster celebrated by blowing kisses to the crowd.

NOTES: DE Elvis Dumervil got his first sack of the season on Denver’s first defensive play, a 6-yard loss for the Broncos first safety since 2007. … In addition to his 2 ½ sacks, Watt hit Manning in the backfield three times. … Former Broncos WR Rod Smith was inducted into the Denver Ring of Fame at halftime.

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