RELIANT STADIUM – The Texans, with high expectations, opened the 2012 season by routing the Miami Dolphins 30-10. Albeit the first quarter was comparable to a chess match, the Texans’ strengths far outweighed the Phins’, which is ultimately what led to the victory. The Phins’ defensive front threw some things at the Texans’ offensive line that seemingly caused fits in the running game. And, on the flip side, the Phins’ offensive line battled the Texans’ defensive line better than expected – in the first quarter, that is. Once the defense figured out how to stop the Phins’ running attack, which was essentially only one-quarter of play, it was lights out.
Offensive Player of the Game
In the first quarter, the offense appeared to be out of rhythm and just trying to find its’ identity. The running game was inconsistent at best, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry, so the Texans turned to the passing attack. With Matt Schaub receiving his contract extension prior to the game, he focused on his ole faithful Andre Johnson, this week’s Offensive Player of the Game.
In the offseason, many fans and so-called experts were calling for the Texans to draft AJ’s replacement with their first pick. Many were saying AJ was injury-prone, over the hill, and done. Well, after Sunday’s game, AJ still has it.
The five-time Pro Bowler finished with game highs in catches with 8 and receiving yards with 119 – including a 14 yard touchdown snag on a fade route.
“Andre is Andre, he is playing at an extremely high level – he is the best in the game and he showed it today,” said quarterback Matt Schaub.
“He looked like the good ole Andre that we’re used to seeing, I expect to see that the rest of the year from him. I know he’s ready to play hard for us,” said starting tightend Owen Daniels.
AJ has always let his actions speak louder than his words. Instead of talking or complaining this offseason when the fans and so-called experts were calling for his replacement, he simply went out the first game and silenced them – although he would never admit they were the reason for the motivation.
“I just wanted to go out and play to the best of my ability. I wasn’t really worried about showing anybody anything. I know what I can do, and that was pretty much it,” said Andre Johnson after the game.
Let’s hope he continues this type of performance for the entire 2012 season.
Defensive Player of the Game
As legendary coach Wade Phillips said, “J.J. Swatt” (aka J.J. Watt) is this week’s Defensive Player of the Game. Watt was unable to play in the pre-season because of a dislocated elbow but there was no rust. He dominated and had more influence on the outcome than any other player.
Watt described his time away from the game – “There was a lot of built up frustration, a lot of built up days of watching, waiting my turn. I felt like I was in a cage for the last four or five weeks and they finally let me out of my cage,” Watt said.
The Phins had no answer and wished they could have caged Watt (6’5″ 295lbs) on Sunday. The second year defensive end deflected four passes, had 1.5 sacks and 3 solo tackles, most of which came in the first half. In fact, two of the deflected passes resulted in unanswered points for the Texans, giving them the boost they needed to break the game wide open.
As incredible of a game as Watt had, his teammates were seemingly unsurprised – mainly because they see it every day in practice.
“It’s just kind of second nature to him. He’s got big ole mitts (hands). It’s almost just as good as a sack to me. He had a great game,” said starting outside linebacker Brooks Reed.
Watt showed his ability for knocking down passes last year during his rookie campaign – even intercepting one for a touchdown in the Texans’ playoff win.
As with Andre Johson, let’s hope Watt continues this type of performance for the entire 2012 season. All in all, the Texans won by 20. Can they improve? Of course. Was it a solid first game? Of course.