Category Archives: Texans

Terrific Trio takes Texans to the Top!

The stadium rocked. A struggling team rebounded. Another rematch was set in motion.

A tie to the old era of Houston’s NFL football beamed.
JJ WATT

“It’s just a great feeling to know that Houston’s back,” proclaimed Bum Phillips, coach of the Luv Ya Blue Oilers and father of Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

The Texans’ best players played best Saturday at Reliant Stadium in a 31-10 thrashing of the Bengals that propelled Houston forward in the NFL playoffs to a Jan. 15 game in Baltimore. Houston lost to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Oct. 16, 29-14. After clinching the AFC South with a Dec. 11 victory at Cincinnati, the Texans sputtered, dropping their final three regular-season games, though the finale meant nothing to their playoff standing.

“We kind of got back to what we were doing during that seven-week stretch [Oct. 23 through Dec. 11, when we were 7-0],” coach Gary Kubiak said. “We played great defense, we found a way to run the ball, we never really hurt ourselves as a team. That was the key.”

The game had plenty of heroes, including efficient rookie quarterback T.J. Yates and cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Three of the team’s other top players, though, produced first-rate efforts worth a deeper look.

ARIAN FOSTER———-After Foster popped an 8-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to tie the score at 7-7, he changed sports as he celebrated.

A Lakers fan who apologizes to Houstonians for his NBA affection, he was talking to fans via Twitter during a recent Lakers-Rockets game. If the Rockets won, he pledged he’d do a touchdown celebration paying homage to them.

The Lakers won and got him off the hook. But Foster decided to follow through with the idea anyway. He celebrated with Hakeem Olajuwon’s “Dream Shake” — a hard stop with a ball fake, followed by a reversal and fade-away jumper he tossed over the crossbar.

Foster finished with 24 carries for 153 yards and two scores. He was only the third undrafted running back in league history to eclipse 100 yards in his first playoff game, joining Ryan Grant (2007) and Paul Lowe (1960).

The Texans’ blocking was tremendous. According to ESPN Stats & Information, 102 of Foster’s rushing yards came prior to initial contact. That’s two-thirds of his total.

The second touchdown, a 42-yard ramble, was his most impressive run of the day. He got to the right sideline and looked to have no chance to stay in bounds. But he followed one good block and surprised strong safety Chris Crocker with his balance and ability to navigate the sideline as he slowed down, then hit the jets.

“I guess he thought I was going out of bounds,” Foster said

J.J. WATT———————Shortly after Jake Delhomme signed with the Texans on Nov. 30, the veteran quarterback was running the offense at a walk-through. Watt batted down several of his passes at the slow-paced practice, and felt guilty for doing so.

“He was kind of mad at me,” Watt said. “And I was like, ‘That’s kind of what I do, that’s my thing.’”

He did his thing to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton with 52 seconds left in the first half, but rather than knocking down the ball thrown from point-blank range, he caught it. And before many people on the field realized where it was, he was carrying it to a 29-yard touchdown that put Houston ahead 17-10.

Coaches and teammates said while reporters and fans don’t see it, Watt snares balls like that all the time at practice.

And while several pass-catchers wouldn’t go so far as to say they’d struggle to make the same play, the guy with the best hands on the team wasn’t too proud to say otherwise.

“It’s almost impossible,” fullback James Casey said. “You’re so close to the ball and obviously the guy is throwing it hard to have it on that trajectory. To be able to catch it like that is remarkable, that’s why you never see it happen.

“Guys bat balls down but they don’t actually catch it. I’d catch zero out of 10. Maybe out of 100 I’d catch one every now and then just getting lucky.”

Watt followed up that giant play by tracking Dalton as he fled the pocket and sacking him on the final play of the first half.

It was Watt’s first touchdown since high school. He didn’t score one as a tight end at Central Michigan or as a defensive end at Wisconsin.

Denver’s Von Miller or San Francisco’s Aldon Smith will win defensive rookie of the year, but Watt didn’t trail them by much in terms of overall initial impact. Miller will have a chance to match Watt’s postseason pace in a game Sunday.

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ANDRE JOHNSON——————–He missed nine games this season with two different hamstring injuries. The Texans gave him a chance to knock some rust off last week. But he and Yates were out of sync for a good portion of this game.

The always-calm Johnson has been waiting for a playoff game since 2003, when he was the Texans’ top pick in the franchise’s second season. He admitted to being antsy and overly anxious to make a play. After one failed pass attempt, he returned to the bench and slammed his helmet to the turf.

Late in the third quarter, though, he and Yates made a connection that sealed the game. Lined up on the left, Johnson put a double move on Adam Jones, who bit, slipped and moved laterally instead of back as he recovered.

Johnson was wide open and Yates delivered a ball that hit him in stride for a 40-yard touchdown that gave the Texans a 24-10 lead.

In the end zone, he stopped and looked to be enjoying a contemplative moment to take it all in and consider all that had come in his career before the big moment.

But that wasn’t it at all.

“I’ve jumped in the stands a few times here and I’ve been grabbed by the facemask and everything,” he said. “So I was kind of thinking about jumping, that’s what the pause was for.”

He jumped.

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Scout.com: NFL Draft Rookie: Connor Barwin

 

NFL Draft Rookie Reaction: Connor Barwin


Ed Thompson
ScoutNFLNetwork.com
Apr 26, 2009
The Texans’ second-round draft pick, defensive end Connor Barwin, will be heading to Houston for a press conference at the team’s facilities on Sunday. But on Saturday night, he shared his rookie reaction in this exclusive interview with Scout.com Senior NFL Analyst Ed Thompson. 

Ed Thompson: Congratulations on being selected by the Houston Texans in the second round of this year’s draft. Tell me what happened at that moment when the phone rang.
Connor BarwinI was really surprised. I thought I was going to get picked earlier in the draft, so I was sitting there looking at who was up to pick. There was Houston, then a couple of teams and Chicago. We were thinking that Chicago was where the pick was going to be, because we had talked to (Bears GM) Jerry Angelo and really hadn’t heard much from Houston since the Combine. So I was just really surprised when they called.
Thompson: I saw on your Twitter feed that you were also a little surprised that Cincinnati had passed on you just a few picks earlier. I know you had a good workout with them.
Barwin: Yeah, their Director of Operations, Jim Lippincott, had told me that if I was there at 38, they were probably going to take me. But’s that’s all good, I’m so excited to be going down to Texas to rush the passer. I was just surprised that Cincinnati didn’t pull the card at 38.
Thompson: So when you got the call, who was on the call with you and what did they say?
Barwin: It was their GM, and he was talking, but I couldn’t really hear anything because my family was screaming and ESPN had a plug in my ear. It was the GM, then the head coach and the D-Line coach. They were all congratulating me and telling me that they were very excited, and that I would be down there tomorrow morning for a press conference.


Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
 

Thompson: The Texans now have a lot of young talent in their front seven with guys likeMario WilliamsDeMeco Ryans, Amobi Okoye and now you and Brian Cushing being added to the mix through this draft. That’s going to be a tough group for teams to make some headway against.
Barwin: Yeah, I’m excited. It’ll be good to go in there and play with great players and people I can learn from. I think we’re going to be a unit who plays fast all the time and gets after people.
Thompson: Did Houston give you an idea of where they see you fitting into their defense?
Barwin:  They want me to play defensive end to start. I’ll play behind Mario Williams and I’ll rush the passer.
Thompson: Have you been to Texas very often?
Barwin: I have never been to Texas, so this will be a new experience for me. But they’re bringing down my three brothers and my parents, so it’ll be fun to have everybody down there tomorrow.
Thompson: Anything else you want to pass on to the fans who have been following you during this journey?
Barwin: Just thank you to everybody in Cincinnati for all the love that I’ve gotten these last four years and over the last few months. Everybody in Cincinnati has been great. I had a great career here, I’m going to miss it. But now I’m excited to be in Houston. I’m excited to play professional football, and I’m going to do everything I can to help Houston be a better football team. 
Thompson: One last question. Has it sunk in yet that one of the guys that you’ll be pass rushing twice a year is Peyton Manning?
Barwin: (laughs) No, that hasn’t sunk in yet. But I can’t wait until I sack Peyton Manning. That’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

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