Johnson shines: Wide receiver Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 128 yards in the loss, torching the New Orleans secondary in the first half for 104 yards on five catches. It was his 38th career 100-yard receiving performance, but it didn't mean much to him given the outcome of the game.
"This is really tough," Johnson said. "We did not want to come in and lose this game. Everyone battled and left it all out there on the field."
Johnson said the inability to score touchdowns in the red zones was what ultimately prevented the Texans from leaving New Orleans victorious.
"We ended up kicking too many field goals," Johnson said. "And playing against an offense like that, you have to score seven instead of three, and that was the difference in the game."
Big Game James: Exploding for 126 yards receiving on five catches, fullback James Casey was a bright spot in the defeat.
A 62-yard catch-and-run exploited the blitzing Saints' defense in the first quarter, and a diving catch for a touchdown in the fourth quarter staked Houston to a nine-point fourth quarter lead. Casey's big day came as big help, because he and the Texans' offense were without some key weapons.
"We came in here with two running backs and four receivers, and two of those guys were nicked up, so I had to have a plan that could get me a lot of variations of how we were going to go about moving the ball," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "James became a big part of that plan, and he tends to respond all of the time. He is a fine player and is getting better every week."
Casey's scoring catch came on third-and-six at the Saints' 26-yard line, and he stretched out to make the grab. After the game, he was quick to praise quarterback Matt Schaub's touch on the throw.
"The coaches told me to be alert as we installed that play just this week, and when their linebacker blitzed, I found myself open," he said. "I really didn't look until the final moment, but he put the ball in a perfect spot for me to catch it. I have to give Matt a lot of credit on the throw."
Tate's tally: With 82 yards on 19 carries, second-year running back Ben Tate pushed his 2011 rushing total to 301 yards. Had he eclipsed the 100-yard mark against the Saints, he would've become just the second player in NFL history to gain 100-plus yards in each of his first three games.
Tate got his first-career start in place of the injured Arian Foster, who was inactive with a hamstring injury. His longest run of the day was a 19-yarder in the second quarter.
Rackers sets team mark: Kicker Neil Rackers was called upon often Sunday, connecting on all four field goal attempts and three point-after tries. His field goals went for 22, 27, 27 and 36 yards, respectively. On his third field goal of the game, he set a franchise record for consecutive field goals made with 16.
Rackers has now made 62 straight field goals from 45 yards or less. He has made all nine of his attempts in 2011.