"I expected us to be in a dogfight," Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. "I'm disappointed with the way we played early, but we did not give up. ... We were mature enough to hang in there and get the win, so we have to be mature enough to know that we didn't play very well."
PRIMO CUSH: Cushing picked a fine time to score the first touchdown of his career.
The Houston linebacker dived to intercept Rivers' pass, bounced back up and rumbled 18 yards to the end zone for the tying touchdown with 9:30 to play. Cushing capped his five-tackle game with a brilliant individual play at the perfect moment.
The Southern California product was playing in his first game since missing most of last season with a knee injury. He signed a six-year, $55.6 million extension with Houston last week.
Cushing's heroics aside, the Texans' vaunted defense was just as powerful as advertised, even with J.J. Watt held without a sack.
Houston also got field-position help from a successful fake punt just three plays before Cushing picked off Rivers' under-pressure throw.
SCHAUB SHAKES IT OFF: Schaub wasn't rattled by the Texans' rough start, answering critics who question his big-game poise with another gritty effort.
The 11th-year pro finished 34 of 45 for 346 yards, getting sacked twice. He threw all three of his touchdown passes to tight ends Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham, while hooking up with favorite target Johnson for 12 catches and 146 yards.
"Once you put a score on the board, then another, and the defense gets a stop, the big turnover, it just builds," Schaub said. "Momentum keeps building, and you can feel that energy, and it's contagious."
KID KICKER: Bullock was the first kicker drafted by the Texans last year, but he missed the entire season with a groin injury.
Kubiak handed the job to Bullock outright earlier this year, not even making him compete in camp — and Bullock has rewarded his fellow Texas A&M Aggie with stellar work.
Bullock missed his first career attempt from 51 yards late in the first half, pushing it barely wide left.
When he got another opportunity with the game on the line, the former Lou Groza Award winner didn't miss.
"I might have put the last three points on the board, but the fight they have was pretty impressive," Bullock said. "I'm proud of these guys."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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