Throughout the week Tennessee has emphasized multiple offensive threats that Houston has assembled over the years, but Andre Johnson, the most-tenured Texan, still looms large early in his 11th NFL season.
Johnson recorded 12 catches for 146 yards Monday in helping Houston rally from a 21-point deficit in the third quarter to a 31-28 victory.
“Andre was making catches all over the field,” said Titans safety
In his past 10 regular season games, Johnson has made 90 receptions for 1,300 yards.
Those numbers for Johnson, who has the highest yards per game average (81.6) for any receiver in NFL history (minimum 100 games), include five catches for 56 yards against Tennessee last December. The Titans also contained Johnson to 56 yards receiving in their first meeting of 2012 last September in Houston.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Johnson maintained a high level of conditioning throughout training camp, which is helping the receiver gain yards after catches. Kubiak said teams try multiple strategies against Johnson, which prompts the Texans to move him around in their offense.
“We feel like we see everything. That’s why we’ve got to play Andre (Johnson) all over the place because if you leave him in one place, somebody will find a way to take him away,” Kubiak said. “It’s a credit to him. He’s very smart. We like to move him around and do different things with him and he can handle it. You know you’ve got to find a way to still give him his touches.”
Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said Johnson wins one-on-ones that the Texans are able to create because of their other offensive threats.
“Andre Johnson is Andre Johnson. You’ve got to know where he is on the field, and that’s the thing they’ve done,” Gray said. “They really made their team, everyone does a role, they all compete, they all contribute to what their role is and you can see it on film.”
Gray said part of the Titans’ strategy for containing Johnson again will be stopping the run so that defenders can put more pressure on quarterback Matt Schaub.
“He can be one of the top quarterbacks in this league,” Gray said. “He doesn’t get the publicity that the other guys get, but you look at him and he throws all the right throws and makes the same amount of (stats), so … it starts with the quarterback.”
Schaub was 12-for-18 with a touchdown and an interception in the first half against San Diego but finished 34-of-45 passing for 346 yards and added two more TD passes in the second half. Although Johnson wasn’t on the receiving end of the scoring plays, he caught eight passes for 75 yards on nine targets in the second half, including a 20-yard gain on third-and-18 early in the third quarter that ignited Houston’s largest comeback in the history of its franchise.