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Houston Texans

'Dre finishes historic season


Against Chicago, Andre Johnson had 10 catches, giving him seven games this season with 10 or more catches. That's an NFL record.

Andre Johnson trotted into the offseason with a game ball under his arm and that satisfying feeling that goes with leading the NFL in receptions and yards.

Johnson's 10 catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns gave him 115 receptions for 1,575 yards this year and helped the Texans end Chicago's playoff hopes with a 31-24 victory on Sunday.

"That's a great feeling," Johnson said. "Everybody who plays football is a competitor. You see other guys making plays and you want to finish first. I'm very excited about it, but it could have been a lot better if we were not packing our bags today."

Johnson's 115 catches are the third most this decade and his yardage total is the sixth largest number. His 1,575 yards are the most since St. Louis Rams wide reciever Torry Holt's 1,696 yards in 2003.

The greatest motivation for the Texans after a disappointing loss to the Raiders last week, was to close out with a break even record.

"Coach Kubiak talked to us last night and he told us not take a step back after we finished .500 last year," Johnson said. "If we'd lost, we'd have had a losing record. That was a big deal to everybody. We didn't want to lose this game today. We started off slow, but we found a way to get it done."

After the Texans fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter, Johnson hauled in 43-yard and three-yard touchdown passes over a four-minute span of the second quarter to set the Texans on their way to ending the season with their second consecutive 8-8 record.

Kubiak was pleased that the team fulfilled his request, and that Johnson ended the season as the NFL leader.

"He deserves it,'' Kubiak said. "I didn't know how it would end up today, but he's had that type of year. He deserved that title, so to speak. I'm glad it all happened for him. As I always say, the way he goes, we go. He had a nice day today."

Johnson had a slow day in last week's loss at Oakland, but the Texans went to their Pro Bowl starter early and often against the Bears.

"We always try to get Andre involved," Kubiak said. "In our first 15 plays, we try to get him to touch the ball. You never know coverage-wise where the football is going to go. That dictates where it goes, but he's been exceptional. It's a nice problem to have, trying to figure some way to get him to touch the football."

Bears cornerback Charles Tillman battled Johnson for the ball on Johnson's first touchdown catch.

"He made a great play," Tillman said. "I had it and it was coming down. I thought I knocked it out, but he caught it. A great play by his part. Good receiver."

Johnson praised the Texans' running game for helping him on the touchdown.

"It opens up everything else for us," Johnson said. "On the first touchdown, I was running a route and I saw the safety (Danieal Manning) take off running for the box and I'm looking like, 'What's he doing?' So I'm thinking the run game helps us out a whole lot."

Manning confirmed Johnson's description of the play.

"I bit up on the run,'' Manning said. "That was it. I know what coverage we had, but I just bit up on the run."

Johnson didn't surprise the Bears' defense.

"When you are leading the NFL in receptions and yards, it doesn't surprise you,'' Manning said. "We knew what they were going to do with him. They were going to try to get him the ball and establish it early."

Quarterback Matt Schaub finished the season with 3,043 passing years and credited much of his success to Johnson.

"Any time we can get him the football and give him the opportunity to make big plays, he does it," Schaub said. "That's a credit to a lot of things we do in the run game and other guys making plays, so they can't focus on him as much. That leaves him to make some plays."

Johnson will be a starter in the Pro Bowl, but he's already had a successful season. And it showed in his postgame speech.

"I was given a game ball," Johnson said. "I told them this was the most fun I've had. I remember when coach Kubiak first got here, he told me he was going to give me a lot of opportunities to make plays on the ball. I told the team and we went out and won this game today, so let's keep going forward.

"Next season is getting our timing down and working all through offseason workouts and start the season not digging a hole. If we play the way we've been playing, we'll be fine."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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