Everything clicking for Texans passing game

While the Houston Texans would like to have a better running game, but QB Matt Schaub is keeping the winning streak alive with solid times passing the ball.

Four games and four defeats into the current season, Andre Johnson's pent-up frustration was boiling over. A Texan since 2003, he was beginning to wonder if there ever would be an end to the losing, and he expressed those fears publicly one day before practice.

But that was then. To be sure, Johnson's mood has brightened considerably.

"It's a big relief," Johnson said, having experienced a third victory in a row as a Texan for the first time after Houston's record 35-6 blowout of the Bengals. "Everyone's happy. I think all the guys out there are having fun playing. I don't think that was going on at the beginning of the season. We're rallying around each other, supporting each other. That's a big thing."

Johnson, the NFL's new season leader in both receptions and receiving yards, is having so much fun he flat refused to leave the field in the fourth quarter — never mind that the game was well in hand and his receivers coach, Larry Kirksey, wanted him to sit a spell. So what if he had endured an unduly physical afternoon, twice taking shots that separated his head from his helmet?

"Larry was calling for me to come out, but I was like, ‘I'm all right. Don't worry about me," Johnson said. "When you're in the flow of the game and the adrenalin is flowing, you don't want to come out. You're doing something you love. So I just stayed out there."

Going in, he knew he'd have to shoulder a larger than normal burden because third receiver Andre Davis was incapacitated with a broken finger. But that was perfectly OK with Johnson, who in October alone has 41 catches for 591 yards. The former figure would rank him second to himself in the league standings for the season.

Still, after conspiring with quarterback Matt Schaub the previous week to help dig the Detroit Lions into a deep hole early, the two-time Pro Bowler was reluctant to pronounce the Texans offense fully in sync. Pressed on the same subject Sunday, though, he conceded with a sly smile, "I'd have to agree with you now.

"It seems like everything is working. We're communicating a lot better. We're just playing smart as a team. We're playing some real good football, probably the best football we've played in a long time these last two weeks."

Coach Gary Kubiak will tell you that his offense's success is predicated upon an effective running attack, but the passing game is suddenly so potent that the axiom no longer holds true. The Texans were ineffective on the ground early — gaining only 27 yards in the first half — yet Schaub wound up throwing just one more incompletion (four) than he did touchdown passes (three). Two of the TD tosses went to Kevin Walter, who might have been the happiest player in a Texans uniform.

After all, he used to be a Bengal. These days, with Cincinnati staggering at 0-8, to be an ex-Bengal is a good thing.

"We have a lot of guys who can make plays," Johnson said. "I was real excited for Kevin today, going up against his old team and getting two touchdowns. He was pretty pumped before the game, and that's why he had the offsides penalty. "

The previously little-used David Anderson also stepped up and caught a touchdown pass, finding himself wide open.

Asked how the Texans have evolved from their dismal start, Walter pointed out a conspicuous stat — turnovers. Schaub hasn't thrown an interception in three of his last four games.

"If we don't give the ball away," Walter said, "we have a chance to win every game we play."

And, lately, they have.


  • For the second time this season, Jacoby Jones returned a punt to the north end zone. He raced for the touchdown right by the front row seat occupied by his mom, Emily London, and jumped into her arms.

    Afterward, Jones' teammates — Chaun Thompson and Zac Diles — suggested Jones move his mom to the south end zone when the offense is moving that way. But Jones said he doesn't think she'd like those seats as well. Diles plans to keep trying.

    "We need to get his mom at every game on every side," Diles said. "Wherever the ball's going, we need Jacoby's mom in that end zone."

  • CB Dunta Robinson saw more action than he anticipated to in his first two weeks back from a knee injury. In the second quarter after batting down a pass and making a critical stop in the red zone, Robinson sprinted to the sideline, sat on the bench and received some oxygen.

    "I was upset with myself (for not intercepting the ball) and I just ran off the field — at the same time I couldn't breathe," he said. "I had to sit down and get oxygen. I played way more plays than I expected to for the second straight week. As long as my knee is fine, I really don't mind. It was just one of those situations, I couldn't breathe at all."

    The Texans are keeping the communication open with Robinson and trusting that he will tell them when he needs to leave a game.

    "I felt a lot better than last week," Robinson said. "I was a little timid last week because you're not sure what's going to happen with your knee. It's still not where I want to be, but I feel a lot better. As long as I keep getting better each week, I'll be fine."

  • TE Joel Dreessen sprained his jaw during the game Sunday, but is not expected to be limited this week. He is expected to play Sunday at Minnesota.

  • RB Ahman Green cramped up during the game and was still a little sore Monday. The Texans said he is day-to-day but that he likely will play Sunday.

  • S Nick Ferguson will start again in place of Will Demps against the Vikings. The Texans are happy with how the veteran is playing.

  • S Will Demps will play primarily on special teams for the second week in a row. He was demoted from the starting role last week.

  • S Eugene Wilson has two interceptions this season. He plays in mostly nickel situations but will likely make another start this week.

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