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Texans beat Bengals 35-6


Last week, wide receiver Andre Johnson said that he and quarterback Matt Schaub had yet to establish the rhythm that they shared at the beginning of the 2007 season.

That's difficult to believe, but Johnson changed his mind after the Texans' 35-6 win Sunday over the Cincinnati Bengals at Reliant Stadium.

"Yeah, I'd have to agree with you now," Johnson said. "It just seems like everything is working."

Entering this week with 30 catches for 450 yards and two touchdowns in his past three games, Johnson capped his most prolific month ever with 11 catches for 143 yards (13.0 avg.). It was his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season.

"He is just playing so well, so much confidence," coach Gary Kubiak said after the game. "He's playing tough. They knocked the heck out of him four or five times. He's leading the team."

Johnson hardly was alone in his exploits. Schaub had all the time he wanted in the pocket, which led to 24-of-28 passing for 280 yards and three touchdowns for a franchise-record 144.0 passer rating.

He completed passes to six different receivers and connected with ex-Bengals wideout Kevin Walter five times for 70 yards and two touchdowns.

"I'm just so excited for (Kevin)," Kubiak said. "Here's a kid that (former Texans general manager) Charley (Casserly) and I were able to get a couple years back. He didn't ask for anything. He worked hard through that first year. We probably should have had him starting that first year, and now he played against his old team today and made some big plays like that. I know that's special."

{QUOTE}In the run game, rookie Steve Slaton scored the Texans' fifth and final touchdown by dragging a couple defenders into the end zone on a 20-yard dash off the left end midway through the fourth quarter. He finished with a game-high 53 rushing yards on 15 carries (3.53 avg.).

Defensive end Mario Williams ended the Bengals' second possession of the second half when he sacked quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and forced a fumble that defensive tackle Amobi Okoye recovered inside the Texans' red zone.

That turnover was followed by interceptions by cornerbacks Eugene Wilson and Dunta Robinson on the Bengals' final two possessions. In the game, Cincinnati was held scoreless in the second half and managed only 253 net yards of offense and 16 first downs.

"We played a complete game," Kubiak said. "I thought in the third quarter we took control of the game as a football team. Big drives on offense, stops on defense, turnovers. We won the turnover battle for the first time this year."

The game couldn't have begun much better for the Texans thanks to wide receiver Jacoby Jones' 73-yard punt return for a touchdown after Cincinnati punted on the game's opening drive. Jones broke right before finding a seam and bursting upfield to avoid two defenders.

The Bengals responded with a 13-play, 54-yard drive to the Texans' 34-yard line. On third-and-15, Fitzpatrick's eight-yard pass to tight end Reggie Kelly set up Shayne Graham's 43-yard field goal with 6:24 left in the first quarter.

On the Texans' second possession, the offense took over from its nine-yard line with 12:45 left in the first half. A 22-yard catch by wide receiver David Anderson gave the offense some breathing room at the 36-yard line. An 11-yard gain by running back Ahman Green and four catches for 34 yards by Johnson helped move Houston to the Bengals' seven-yard line. On third-and-three from the six-yard line, Schaub found Anderson open for a touchdown in the corner of the end zone.

Running the two-minute offense, Fitzpatrick led the Bengals into scoring range with three completions for 32 yards before his 11-yard scramble to the Houston 22. On third-and-two at the 14-yard line, Robinson deflected a pass intended for wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Graham's 32-yard field goal made the score 14-6 with 50 seconds left in the first half.

In the same way he started the first half, Johnson made the first catch of the second half by hauling in an 18-yard pass to the Houston 34. Two more catches by Johnson for 37 total yards gave the offense a first down at the Cincinnati 24. On third-and-seven, Johnson picked up 10 yards on a bubble screen to the 11-yard line. Walter scored two plays later on a seven-yard touchdown catch.

The Texans added to their lead with 6:41 left in the third quarter when Schaub found Walter open for a 39-yard touchdown. On the play, Walter tripped and fell as he caught the pass, but stumbled to his feet as the defender tapped him on the shoulder. The Bengals' defense froze for a second in a moment of confusion before Walter ran toward the end zone and scored. Replays indicated that Walter regained his footing by the time he was touched.

The offense returned with 1:55 left in the third quarter after Williams' sack and forced fumble. The offense capitalized behind a methodical 11-play, 86-yard drive over 7:01 that Slaton finished with a dazzling 20-yard touchdown off the left end.

Less than two minutes later, Wilson picked off Fitzpatrick's deep pass intended for Henry by leaping in the air to catch the ball at a higher point. He returned his second interception of the year 17 yards to the Bengals' 39-yard line.

After Turk's second punt of the game, the Texans' defense forced another turnover when Robinson intercepted Fitzpatrick's pass to Houshmandzadeh at the Houston 36. It was Robinson's 12th career pick, making him the Texans' all-time leader in the category.

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