For the second consecutive January, Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph picked off a pass against his former team in a playoff victory.
The former Cincinnati Bengal played brilliantly against his old team in the Texans' 19-13 Wild Card victory on Saturday at Reliant Stadium. Joseph finished with a third-quarter interception, five tackles and two passes defensed and held dynamic Bengals receiver A.J. Green to just 80 yards on the afternoon, including zero in the first half.
"He showed why he's in the Pro Bowl," Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. "He made a big play. We needed a play there, we had them backed up, and he picked it off. He's that kind of player. He makes big plays."
With 4:33 remaining in the third quarter and Cincinnati facing a second-and-7 at its own 24-yard line, Joseph intercepted Andy Dalton at the 40 and brought it back 14 yards to the 26-yard line. Shayne Graham kicked a 24-yard field goal eight plays later, and the Texans had a 19-10 advantage.
In typical Joseph fashion, he described the play in a very matter-of-fact way.
"We just had a cover one call," Joseph said of the alignment. "Kind of just got a jump on it. Had a feeling for what they were going to run on that particular down and just made a play on the ball."
Perhaps most impressive about Joseph's day was the first-half stat line for Green: zero targets, zero receptions and zero yards. The two-time Pro Bowl receiver wasn't a factor in the opening stanza due in large part to Joseph's blanket coverage.
"Obviously, he's a big, rangy guy; he's a taller guy," Joseph said. "But for me, it was just about battling all day and making him work for each and every catch that he has to make."
Joseph played through groin and hamstring injuries throughout the 2012 season. He was inactive on Thanksgiving Day at Detroit. Not once did he make an excuse or cite the injuries as a hindrance, but it was clear on Saturday he had put them behind him.
"Physically, I'm probably better than I've been all year," Joseph said after the game. "Obviously, I had groin and hamstring injuries earlier in the year, but for me it was just about getting back healthy and playing the type of football I'm capable of."
That standard Joseph has set, and the way he played on Saturday, were no surprise to fellow Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson.
"We know he is going to do his job," Jackson said. "He had a great game today, and that's what we expect from him every week."