December 13, 2009
Angry Dre Kicks Off a New Streak
by Keith Weiland
Sliding through a four-game skid, the Texans welcomed the Seattle Seahawks to Reliant Stadium for the first time on Sunday and quickly showed them zero hospitality. From the first play of scrimmage, the Texans jumped all over the visitors on their way to a 34-7 thumping.
Wide receiver Andre Johnson zipped past the Seahawk secondary and caught a 64-yard touchdown pass, kicking off one of the most productive halves in NFL history. Johnson caught nine more balls before halftime for a total of 184 yards and two scores. It was statistically the most impressive two quarters of football from a receiver in the last decade, dating back to Jimmy Smith of the Jaguars from early in the 2000 season.
Of course, Johnson's quarterback had a pretty nice half, too. Matt Schaub completed 24 of 28 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns, the yardage representing the second-highest total in a first half this season in the league and the third-highest total since 1991.
Schaub finished the game with 365 passing yards, pushing his season total to 3,814, a new franchise record with three games yet to play. Johnson also caught one more pass in the second half for a final tally of 11 catches for 193 yards. His second touchdown of the game, a 17-yard reception from Schaub, gave the Texans a commanding 24-0 lead just three minutes into the second quarter.
Thanks to a season-best, four-quarter performance by the Texans defense, that lead was never once in doubt. As a unit, they harrassed opposing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck early and often, witnessing him fumble three times while sacking him another three times. Safety Bernard Pollard also intercepted Hasselbeck in the third quarter, returning the pick 70 yards for the game's final score.
This almost never happens, especially with this franchise, but the key play was really the first one from scrimmage. Following Andre Davis' opening kickoff return to the 36-yard line, the Texans ran a quick count and sent Johnson flying up the right sideline.
Having scripted the play from watching video earlier in the week, Johnson and the Texans correctly suspected the Seattle secondary of sitting on routes and anticipating the throw. Schaub instead let the pass fly deep, and Johnson pulled the ball out of the air mid-stride, running the last 30 yards or so in for the score.
The play proved to be back-breaking for the Seahawks. On the road in an early game (hey, it was just past 10 a.m. in Seattle), they appeared ready for the inevitable destruction that the Texans had in store for them.
Obviously Schaub and Johnson were worthy of special recognition here. They knew that the Seahawks secondary had no answer for whatever they dialed up, much of it crossing routes in which Schaub's pinpoint accuracy had Johnson catching the ball in stride. Other times it was the simple short passes and screens that kept the ball in Johnson's hands to push the offense forward. All in all, the pair combined for possibly one of the best halves of offensive football we'll ever see.
Defensively, Pollard backed up his tough talk off the field with more tough play on it. His 70-yard pick six erased one of the few flubs by the offense, a fumble by running back Ryan Moats. A cast-off of the new Chiefs regime, Pollard has been a valuable find for a team so desperate for competent play at safety.
Mario Williams was once again his badass self. He sacked Hasselbeck twice and forced a fumble in leading the defensive line with six tackles. The other defensive leader, linebacker DeMeco Ryans, was involved all over the field as well, making 12 tackles and generally keeping everyone focused for sixty minutes of solid defensive football.
The best receiver in football proved it once again today. Angry Dre (somewhat quietly) put together a stout performance last week in Jacksonville, and he (not so quietly) followed it up with a showcase of himself this week. The catches and yards represented season highs for Johnson, and he predictably abused a weak Seahawks secondary literally from the word go.
Johnson intends to carry this team on his back, and on Sunday he set the tone to yank the Texans out of a four-game losing streak to hopefully ignite a winning kick to finish off the 2009 season. If Johnson says he will do all he can to help the team to it's best record ever, who among us should doubt him following a performance like this one?
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