Johnson finished off a career day by turning a screen pass from Matt Schaub into a 48-yard sprint for the winning touchdown as the Texans rallied to beat Jacksonville, 43-37.
“All the good teams find a way to win, no matter if it’s ugly, pretty or whatever,” Johnson said. “In the win column, it either says ‘W’ or ‘L.’ They don’t ask how you got it done.”
Schaub threw a career-high five touchdown passes, completed a franchise-record 43 passes and finished with 527 yards in the air, second most in NFL history.
Seahawks broadcaster and former quarterback Warren Moon also threw for 527 yards in a game for the Houston Oilers in December 1990 in Kansas City. Norm Van Brocklin holds the record with 554 for the Rams in 1951.
Johnson caught 14 passes for 273 yards, both career highs; the yardage was a team record. He turned 31 in July, but has been saying for weeks that he’s feeling as fit and healthy as he ever has.
“Maybe you guys will believe me after that,” Johnson told reporters after the game.
He seemed to be open all day and he was somehow uncovered again when Schaub flipped him the short pass for the decisive score.
“When I caught the ball, and I saw how open I was, I was looking around like, ‘Where are the defenders at?’” Johnson said. “I took off running, I kept looking. I thought the cornerback would come from the outside, but he wasn’t there. It was just the safety, so I was just saying to myself, ‘I can’t let him tackle me.’”
It almost didn’t come to that. Houston trailed 34-20 with 12 minutes to play, but Schaub completed 16 consecutive throws to launch the comeback.
“Something we can look back on as we move through this,” Schaub said, “because there are going to be games like that, that are not always going to be a two- or three-score lead in the fourth quarter, where you’re trying to run the clock out.”
The Texans (9-1) won an overtime game for the first time at Reliant Stadium and improved to 2-7 in overtime in their history. The Jaguars (1-9) have lost three road games in overtime this season.
“I told them afterwards, we didn’t come here for a tie,” Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey said. “We had some chances. We just did not make some of the plays that we haven’t made throughout the year.”
Houston’s comeback wrecked big performances by Chad Henne and first-round pick Justin Blackmon, who showed that the Jacksonville offense does actually have some spark.
Henne threw a career-high four touchdown passes in relief of injured Blaine Gabbert and Blackmon made seven catches for 236 yards. It was the first time in NFL history opposing players each had more than 200 yards receiving in the same game.
Jacksonville looked like it was on its way to one of the biggest upsets of the season when Henne hooked up with Blackmon for a stunning 81-yard touchdown with 12:33 remaining in regulation to put the Jaguars up 34-20.
Schaub then threw two touchdown passes to tight end Garrett Graham in the final 5:39 to force overtime.
Shayne Graham and Josh Scobee kicked field goals in overtime and, for a while, it looked like the NFL might have its second tie in two weeks. San Francisco and St. Louis ended 24-24 last week.
Henne threw incomplete on fourth-and-10 from the Houston 47, and the Texans regained possession with 2:30 to go in OT. Schaub saw the perfect defense for a receiver screen pass to Johnson, who took the pass and sprinted untouched down the right sideline to end it.
“We got what we wanted,” Schaub said, “and ’Dre did the rest.”
Johnson surpassed his own single-game records for receptions and yards receiving. Houston coach Gary Kubiak thinks those records may stand for a while.
“I don’t know if that one will ever be touched,” Kubiak said. “That was special from the Texans’ standpoint.”
Gabbert left in the first quarter with a bruised right elbow. Mularkey said last week that he was sticking with Gabbert as his starter, but he may have to go with Henne now. He didn’t have an update on Gabbert’s injury after the game and will decide later whether to start Gabbert next week.
With Henne guiding the offense, Jacksonville had 238 yards by halftime.
“You’ve just got to always be prepared and ready to go in,” Henne said. “I’ve been preparing these last couple weeks like I’ve got to be the starter, and any time he (Gabbert) goes down, just jump in and hopefully not lose a step.”