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Houston Texans

Schaub-Johnson duo is born


Matt Schaub threw an interception before he completed his first touchdown pass as the new Texans quarterback.

Edgy Texans fans went silent late in the first quarter when Schaub, replacing departed David Carr as the starter, under threw Andre Johnson in the end zone and Jarrad Page intercepted for the Chiefs.

The miscue was quickly forgotten in the second quarter when Schaub found Johnson coming across the middle for a 77-yard touchdown pass as the Texans rolled to a 20-3 victory.

Whew. The Schaub-to-Johnson era begins.

"When I came off the ball and saw the safety, I knew it was a touchdown," Johnson said. "On that play, you dream for coverage like that and they gave us just what we were looking for."

Johnson beat the single safety coverage in an exact replay of what he'd seen on the sidelines.

"We'd been looking at that play on pictures on the sidelines," Johnson said. "We'd worked on it for quite a while, but it never opened up like it did today. We ran a play into perfect coverage and it was wide open."

Schaub didn't blink after his interception and neither did the rest of the offense. The Texans built their lead and then used a 10-minute fourth quarter drive to seal their season-opening victory.

"That's part of football," Schaub said. "You're going to have bad ones and that was a bad decision, bad throw on my part. That was early in the game, there was a lot of football to be played.

"The main thing is as a player in this league you've got to put it behind you good or bad and move on."

{QUOTE}Veteran offensive linemen sensed the beginning of a new feeling with Schaub as the strong leader and Johnson leading the receiving corps.

"It was a completely different mentality," starting left tackle Ephraim Salaam said. "Last year when I got here, if we made an early mistake in the game, it seemed the roof caved in.

"Everyone started looking around like, 'Here we go again.' I didn't see any of that today. I'm proud to be a part of any team that can turn the corner so fast."

Johnson had a big opening day. He caught seven passes for 144 yards, including his career long 77-yard touchdown catch.

Schaub won new fans for his cool hand in the huddle and the stat sheet proved it. Schaub completed 16 of 22 passes for 225 yards.

"It was important to go out and play efficient and manage the game well and execute our game plan and come out with a victory," Schaub said. "We succeeded today."

It wasn't a perfect offensive game. In addition to Schaub's interception, Johnson lost a fumble on the Chiefs' 34-yard line in the third quarter.

'We left some points on the field," Schaub said. "We could have scored some more points today and we hurt ourselves. Some penalties in the red zone and the interception I threw in the red zone. We can get better."

Johnson likes the progress the Texans have made since last year's 6-10 finish. He sees a need for more improvement.

"We didn't play a perfect game," Johnson said. "Nobody's satisfied with it. We're going to keep working with it. This is just one game and now we've got 15 more."


Still, it was a great beginning and Schaub got much of the credit.

"He did a great job of managing the huddle and the personalities in the huddle, he was calm and collective and poised," center Steve McKinney said. "He never showed any kind of anxiety. It was positive, good or bad. It was a good attitude and it spread throughout the huddle."

Johnson saw it too.

"When you have a quarterback like that, it helps if he's not panicking," Johnson said. "If Matt was in the huddle panicking, you'd have to try to calm him down. You don't want that."

After getting a big second half lead, the Texans did just what they've been unable to do in seasons past: Run the ball down an opponent's throat.

They proved it with a 10-minute fourth quarter drive.

"It was extremely important," coach Gary Kubiak said. "I told Matt, 'Listen, you use the whole clock, but don't let the guys in the huddle know. I don't want them to think that we're slowing down.'

"I think the biggest factor is something we've preached to our players since we've been here. You've got to be able to run the ball in this league when everybody knows you're going to run it.

"They knew we were going to run the ball there late in the game, on those drives and we were still able to effectively do that."

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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