Archive for Monday, October 20, 2008
Texans’ Johnson leads Houston past winless Detroit
Andre Johnson dominated, Calvin Johnson
disappeared and the Houston Texans kept the Detroit Lions winless.
The Texans scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, then hung on in the second half to earn their second straight victory, 28-21 on Sunday. Detroit (0-6) matched its worst start since 2001, when it dropped its first 12 games and finished 2-14.
Andre Johnson, the Texans’ two-time Pro Bowl selection, caught 11 passes for 141 yards, his third straight 100-yard game. Tight end Owen Daniels scored two touchdowns and rookie Steve Slaton and Ahman Green added a touchdown each.
Calvin Johnson, the Lions’ first-round draft pick in 2007, had a career-high 154 receiving yards but only two catches, one of them a 96-yarder that cut Houston’s lead to 28-18 in the fourth quarter.
Detroit was playing its first game since trading Pro Bowl receiver Roy Williams to Dallas and coach Rob Marinelli credited Houston’s defense for taking Johnson away.
“A couple of times, the coverage rolled to him. A couple of times, our protection broke down,” Marinelli said. “We know we’ve got to get the ball to him. Sometimes, the coverage dictated that the ball would go in a different direction.”
Andre Johnson, meanwhile, caught eight passes for 95 yards in the first half, when Houston’s offense clicked as well as it has all season. Matt Schaub completed 16 of 18 passes and Slaton and Green combined for 97 yards as Houston (2-4) built a 21-0 lead.
“The whole week we were saying we wanted to come out and play our best football,” Johnson said. “We did that for a half.”
Slaton broke a 37-yard run on the game’s third play and Schaub found Daniels wide open in the end zone for the Texans’ first touchdown in the first quarter this season.
Zac Diles sacked Dan Orlovsky on Detroit’s second play and the Lions couldn’t get a first down and punted.
The Texans moved to the Lions 17 and cornerback Leigh Bodden was called for pass interference trying to cover Johnson in the end zone to set up first-and-goal. Green scored on second down, his first touchdown this season.
“We were explosive coming out of the game,” said Houston coach Gary Kubiak. “We talked about starting fast and we definitely did that.”
The Lions have been outscored 54-0 in the first quarter and neither Marinelli or his players can pinpoint why they start so poorly.
“It’s a weird dynamic,” said Orlovsky. “I don’t know what it is, but it needs to change. When we play, we’re pretty good.”
Schaub found Daniels for a 25-yard gain to the Lions 15 on Houston’s third possession. Slaton carried six times for 29 yards on the drive and finished it with a 1-yard run, his fourth touchdown of the season.
The Lions had no yards passing until a 25-yard reception by Mike Furrey with about 9 minutes left in the first half. That drive stalled and Jason Hanson made a 54-yard field goal.
Houston was on the verge of scoring again when Schaub was sacked by Dewayne White and fumbled inside the 10. Calvin Johnson caught a 58-yard pass on the resulting drive, but time ran out before the Lions could convert.
Schaub was sacked by Cory Redding on Houston’s first series after halftime and the Texans punted for the first time. Rookie Kevin Smith had a 21-yard run to the Texans 26, then broke a tackle and scored on the next play to make it 21-10.
Kubiak felt like Schaub’s fumble turned momentum. The Texans are minus-9 in turnover margin this season.
“It seemed like that turnover right before the half, almost like it puts back in everybody’s mind, you know, here it comes again,” Kubiak said. “We kind of played that way the rest of the way.”
The Texans got a favorable call later in the third quarter that kept alive a 15-play scoring drive.
Schaub dove into the pile on fourth-and-1 from the Lions 3, and Marinelli challenged the spot. After review, officials moved the ball slightly and measured again, but still said Schaub had made the first down.
Schaub threw another short touchdown pass to Daniels to put Houston up 28-10.
The Texans punted early in the fourth quarter, pinning the Lions at their own 4-yard line. Calvin Johnson ran past the Texans’ defense and caught a perfect pass from Orlovsky and scored. It was Detroit’s longest pass play since 1998 and the fourth longest in team history.
Marinelli said the Lions called other plays for Johnson, but Orlovsky said Houston’s defense was always ready.
“Teams are obviously doing some good things against him,” Orlovsky said. “I’ve got to try to get him the ball more.”
Hanson kicked another 54-yard field goal with 4:17 left. The Texans held the ball until there were just 20 seconds to go and Detroit’s last play ended in a fumble.
Houston cornerback Dunta Robinson had two tackles in his first game since sustaining severe knee and hamstring injuries almost a year ago.
“It was emotional,” Robinson said. “My dad told me I better not cry on TV, so I made sure of that.” Notes:@ Houston Rockets star Yao Ming attended the game and stood on the sideline for a portion of the first half. … Lions FS Dwight Smith injured his foot, but Marinelli said he didn’t have an update on his status. … Houston’s 29 first downs were a franchise record.