Chargers 27

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Texans 20

(0-1, 0-1 home)

1:00 PM ET, September 12, 2004


1 2 3 4 T
SD 3 7 10 727
HOU 3 10 7 020

Houston drops first season-opener in three tries

HOUSTON (AP) -- The power outage at Houston's Reliant Stadium wasn't limited to the electricity.

The Houston Texans had enough glitches of their own with ill-timed fumbles and interceptions and some big penalties Sunday as they lost a season opener for the first time, bowing 27-20 to San Diego.

Allen's Analysis

Eric Allen

Has Antonio Gates (123 yards) already established himself as Drew Brees' go-to guy?

Without a doubt, he's a good, young player on the verge of breaking out for the Chargers. Not many people picked San Diego to pull off this mild upset, including myself. The Chargers went out and ignored the talk about possibly being the worst team in the NFL and won a big game against a team that some people were talking up for a playoff spot. The Chargers and, especially Brees, have needed a receiver to complement LaDainian Tomlinson and now it seems they've found him. Brees had a good game and didn't play as if he was feeling the pressure of having a highly touted rookie playing behind him. The Chargers should hope he's able to maintain that calmness and lead them to more victories.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders. He's a regular contributor to Insider.

A blackout with 5:07 left in the fourth quarter interrupted the game for about 10 minutes.

Four plays after the game resumed, Houston's Domanick Davis fumbled at the San Diego 14 yard line -- his second fumble of the day -- and effectively short-circuited any thoughts of a Texans comeback as the Chargers ran out the clock.

"I did make a big mistake at a critical time of the game," said Davis, who wound up with 87 yards on 21 carries and a couple of touchdowns. "I was playing a little too hard and I was trying to make something happen. They just touched (the ball) and it slipped out."

"Our offense moved the ball well at times, but it doesn't make any difference if you can't hold on to the ball," Texans coach Dom Capers said.

San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 121 yards and a touchdown and the Chargers, unlike the Texans, avoided mistakes and took advantage of Houston's miscues, which also included a pair of interceptions thrown by David Carr.

"They made fewer errors than we did," Capers said. "They didn't turn the ball over and we turned it over four times."

The score was tied at 20 midway into the fourth quarter when Drew Brees drove the Chargers downfield, climaxing with a 19-yard scoring pass to Eric Parker in the back of the end zone. Houston protested the call, although poor replays failed to show whether Parker's toes landed inbounds.

Brees was 17-of-24 for 209 yards and two touchdowns, including eight completions for 123 yards to tight end Antonio Gates.

Davis' first fumble, at the Houston 45-yard line, led to a 1-yard TD run by Tomlinson five plays later that gave the Chargers a brief 10-6 lead in the second quarter.

Carr's first interception was on a desperation pass near halftime, when the Texans led 13-10. His second was more costly, coming off a tip by Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards and a pickoff by former Houston linebacker Steve Foley at the Texans' 49.

The Chargers cashed in when Reche Caldwell got wide open for a 36-yard TD catch that gave them a 17-13 lead after rookie cornerback Dunta Robinson tripped and fell in coverage.

"That's life in the NFL," Capers said. "When you're playing out where he is and you're a rookie you're going to get challenged."

"That's just part of the game," Robinson agreed. "I knew they were going to throw the ball at me, but I thought I would do better."

Then a 40-yard pass interference penalty against Robinson set up a 29-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding to tie the game at 20 at the end of the third period.

"We beat ourselves in every aspect," Robinson said.

The game was delayed by an electricity outage at Reliant Stadium -- which is named for a power company. The 10-minute stoppage came after a short circuit was believed to have been triggered somewhere in the area outside the stadium when a small plastic balloon came in contact with a power line, officials said. An NFL official in the press box ordered the game to continue despite low light through the translucent retractable roof, which eventually opened.

The teams got things started by trading field goals on their first possessions, including a 48-yarder by Kaeding on his first career attempt.

Kris Brown gave Houston a 6-3 lead on a 20-yard field goal in the second quarter after Carr's third-down pass attempt glanced off fullback Jarrod Baxter in the end zone.

"We put out defense in bad situations all day," Carr, who completed 19 of 25 passes for 229 yards, said. "To be a good offense, you've got to not just move the ball but have to not turn it over. We turned it over too much and it's just frustrating."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 4 plays, 49 yds, 1:33
sdTD10:00LaDainian Tomlinson, 1 yd run
Drive info: 5 plays, 45 yds, 2:22
Drive info: 4 plays, 49 yds, 1:33
Drive info: 5 plays, 45 yds, 2:22
houFG11:55Kris Brown 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 58 yds, 3:00
houTD4:40Domanick Williams, 1 yd run
Drive info: 8 plays, 52 yds, 4:22
Drive info: 8 plays, 52 yds, 4:22
houTD4:47Domanick Williams, 2 yd run
Drive info: 9 plays, 70 yds, 4:58
Drive info: 7 plays, 75 yds, 5:11
sdFG6:40Nate Kaeding 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 48 yds, 5:03
Drive info: 9 plays, 70 yds, 4:58
sdFG0:02Nate Kaeding 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 59 yds, 4:27
Drive info: 7 plays, 75 yds, 5:11
houFG14:10Kris Brown 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 71 yds, 7:20