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Postgame notebook: Texans at Cardinals


WR Andre Johnson hauled in a pair of touchdown catches in the Texans' loss to Arizona

Day and night: As well as the Arizona Cardinals played for the first 30 minutes Sunday, the Texans matched it over the course of the final half of football, but ultimately couldn't pull out a victory. It was a reverse of the team's performance in Week 4 against Oakland, when they buried the Raiders in the first half and coasted after the break to a win.

"We were really poor," head coach Gary Kubiak said of Sunday's showing in the first half versus the Cardinals. "Offensively, we just were bad on third downs. I think we were 0-for-6 in the first half. We dug a huge, huge hole."

Statistically, in the opening two quarters Sunday, the Cardinals were better than Houston in numerous areas. Arizona picked up 18 first downs to the Texans' five. Kurt Warner and company churned out 297 yards of total offense to just 130 by Matt Schaub's bunch. The Cardinals' offense was chewing up yardage at a rate of nearly 8.5 yards per play.

"In the first half, we just didn't execute," Schaub said. "Things weren't going, things weren't clicking and we weren't making plays."

But after the return from the locker room, the roles were reversed and the Texans dominated the stat sheet. Arizona was stonewalled, picking up a solitary first down and only 43 yards of offense.

{QUOTE}"When we came out in the second half, I thought for sure we were going to do it," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "We came out with the right frame of mind. I thought we came out with intensity. We believed in what we were doing and we were just flying around and making plays. To have it not happen was just a big downer."

Schaub and his offensive mates matched the defense's high level of play and pumped out three touchdowns to equalize the score. Houston was less than a yard away from scoring at the end of regulation. Being so close, and in such a similar situation as they were in two weeks ago against Jacksonville, reinforced what Schaub said he and his teammates have to change.

"It's one of those things where we've got to put together four quarters as a team," Schaub said. "We dug ourselves a hole, but guys stepped up and we were able to battle back. We've been in that situation before, so we were able to battle back and take it one play at a time and got ourselves back in the ballgame."

Big returns: The Texans' final drive of the afternoon began with a 63-yard kickoff return by André Davis. The eight-year veteran took the kick three yards deep in the end zone and then managed to spring free up the right sideline before finally getting pushed out of bounds by Michael Adams. It allowed Schaub and the offense to set up shop on the 40-yard line to begin the final series.

Equally impressive was Jacoby Jones' 62-yard punt return at the start of the third quarter. After the Texans' defense forced a three-and-out by the Cardinals, Ben Graham boomed a 58-yard punt that Jones took at his own seven-yard line. Jones then proceeded to zip up the left sideline and was brought down eventually at the Arizona 31-yard line by Calais Campbell.

Spoiled homecoming: Smith was at the University of Phoenix Stadium for the first time as a Houston Texan, and his return didn't end the way he would've liked. Smith accounted for one tackle and one quarterback hurry on the day, and walked off the field on the losing end of the contest.

A large contingent of Arizona fans were there to send him off into the tunnel, applauding the former Cardinal, whose trip back to the desert was more bitter than sweet.

"There are so many different emotions," Smith said. "You're excited to see people you haven't seen in a while. Your loved ones. Your friends. People that you've built relationships with over the years. Then on the other hand, you were excited to put a whoopin' on them and going out there and competing and having fun."

Andre's day: Coming into the game, one of the main subplots was the clash of the two greatest receivers in the league in Johnson and Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald. Both players scored a pair of touchdowns, but Johnson wound up with a game-high 101 yards and eight receptions. Fitzgerald tallied just 79 yards receiving, and was bettered by teammate Anquan Boldin's 81-yard performance.

The second of Johnson's two touchdowns will go down as one of the greatest plays in his brilliant career. On first-and-10 at the Cardinals' 17-yard line, he brought in a Schaub pass over the middle and bulldozed his way into the end zone, leaving a trio of Cardinals defenders in his wake. When he finally was brought down, Johnson didn't realize he had scored.

"To be honest, when I fell down I didn't even know I was in the end zone," Johnson said. "I stood up and I just heard some of the guys celebrating, so I realized I was in there. I was just playing football."

Schaub was actually one of the few people in the stadium that was unable to see the touchdown.

"I threw the ball and I got hit, so I really didn't see how he got hit," Schaub said. "I just know he ended up in the end zone, so I know I'll see it tomorrow. But it was a heck of a play by him."

Johnson's effort certainly was noticed by his teammates on the defensive side of the ball, and served as motivation.

"I said, 'This is it: We got this game,'" Smith said after Johnson's scintillating score. "When you make a play like that, where you see a player fight to get in the end zone like that and take hits like he took and still fight to cross that plane, we were thinking like, 'We got it. We got this game.'"

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