On Sunday, the Texans are playing the Cardinals. The only thing that matters about this game is what happens during halftime. The Texans will hang Andre Johnson’s name up in the stadium as the first inductee into the organization’s Ring of Honor. The Texans’ all-time leading receiver and greatest player of all-time will be honored before the game for his spectacular career. To celebrate him one last time before he puts on a golden jacket in Canton, the masthead joins together to write about their favorite Andre Johnson play.
Pick one? Can’t do it. It’s like picking a favorite child that I’ll never have.
The Bengals touchdown in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs was perfect, to see it finally come together for someone who gave so much on so many bad teams while catching passes from so many terrible quarterbacks.
The Cardinals touchdown blew my brains out. He was a monster truck pile-driving through mounds of flesh to score in a game the Texans would lose in overtime, of course.
The one-handed touchdown catch against the Titans, where he tipped it to himself and proved once again he is one of the greatest of all time at catching things.
The Jaguars screen pass touchdown in Matt Schaub’s last great game that capped off a win in a shootout against CHAD HENNE.
They are all beautiful. They all lifted hearts and made souls soar.
When I think about ‘Dre for the rest of the time this vessel carries my consciousness through time, I’ll think about these touchdowns, and one singular route. The sideline out. Every time he ran this route, ‘Dre was wide open. He never wasn’t open. He would scream off the line, get the cornerback seething backwards and afraid of the dark. Then he would sit, turn, and catch the pass with no one on the map. Against zone coverage, he would find the zipper on the back of the costume, yank it down, and recline his seat back in open simulated grass.
Catching easy fifteen yard passes. Completing easy first downs. Those were simpler times. No All-22. No exhaustive football analysis. I could sit and have my child brain wondering how he got open so easily every time. Aliens? Magic? I still don’t know, and I don’t care to ever know.
Andre Johnson lived in three different sets of motion. On the screen pre-snap, off the screen, and with the ball in his hands. Zapping back to the television in the form of carnival catches, tank trounces through tacklers, and scalded defenders.
Forever, I’ll miss this.
The easiest answer is his 34-yard touchdown catch against the Washington Redskins in 2010. Johnson ran a perfect route on 4th and 10 to beat Phillip Buchanon and Reed Doughty. Matt Schaub threw a jump ball up for Johnson that he easily caught over Doughty. Johnson threw down a thunderous spike after the touchdown catch to create his most iconic photo of his career. Doughty crumpled in the background while Johnson raged with joy after the spike. If Johnson ever gets a statue at NRG Stadium, it will reflect this picture for sure.
This play will forever havea special place in my heart because my dad is a Redskins fan. From that play forward, ‘Dre became “Andre Mother-F@c^£€% Johnson” to my father. We both still use the term. He uses it in disgust, and I use out of respect for the baddest man on the planet to wear a Texans jersey.
What Ryan said. That was Muhammad Ali stuff right there.
For me, it has to be the Miami catch. As a Floridian, one of my greatest sources of pride (until 2015... ugh) during the early Texans lean years was the undefeated record against the Dolphins. I actually really like the Dolphins, but given that my entire family and most of my friends are Dolphins fans, it was fun to hold that over them. I remember feeling like that ride was coming to an end when Andre leapt into the air and plucked the ball directly from the hands of God. To this day, I feel like divine intervention is the only explanation for that catch.
Here I thought I was going to be the only one who chose the catch against the Dolphins. That play and the subsequent QB sneak by Schaub literally saved the careers of both Kubiak and Schaub.
Mine isn't even a TD. It's the physics-bending catch he made over the middle against the Dolphins. I've watched the replay dozens of times and I still can't figure out how he even got both hands on the ball, let alone came down with it cleanly. I mean, other than the fact that he's always been The Man.
Honorable mention is the one against the Jags in 2012. I was watching with Vega at his house and, when Schaub dumped it down to Andre, we went from "good pass" to "OH MY GOD HOLY KITTEN WOW I LOVE YOU ANDRE JOHNSON" in the span of a half second.
We may have hugged. I don't actually recall because the homebrew beer was strong, but neither answer would surprise me.
The 43 yard walkoff TD against the Jags in 2012.
It was the most meaningless game, but I still remember losing my mind after that play. Nothing said “Andre Johnson” more than when you needed something to happen, you gave it to him and he created something out of nothing.
I don't recall the year, but we played the Chiefs in Houston and Schaub hit Andre with a game-winning TD in the corner with just seconds left. That's one of my personal favorites because I was at that game, and even though a lot of dummies had already left thinking Houston was sure to lose, the place absolutely went crazy. I believe this was one week (for sure one home game) after we had gotten SKUNKED at home by the Giants. I was also at that game. For my wife, those two games were her first two in-person NFL games, so she got the worst of times against the Giants and then the best when we got to jump up and down, scream, and celebrate with strangers.
Andre's grown-man touchdown against the Cardinals takes the cake for me. When Johnson was in his prime and he wanted the ball, there was literally nothing on this earth anyone could do to stop him. He's one of the most gifted receivers to ever play this game, and running over three defenders to get into the end zone was the perfect example of his greatness. We might never see another receiver like him, and that makes me both sad and full of pride at the same time.
The touchdown against the Cardinals where he bulldozed through three defenders and scored is the essence of his career. He outworked everyone around him and willed his way to greatness. There were so many times that I sat in awe of him, almost wishing he was on a team with a brighter future to see him play on the biggest stage. Outside of J.J. Watt, he is the most valuable player to this franchise.
I have a hard time remembering specific Andre touchdowns, outside of the playoff touchdowns, but the one I remember specifically was from 2009 where the Texanswere playing against the BESFs. Schaub overthrew him (for once) and ‘Dre made a spectacular one handed catch after tipping the ball to himself in the end zone.
Sentimental favorite: TD catch against Bengals in first playoff game.
Hard to pick ONE favorite, but the inaugural playoff touchdown is my favorite memory of him. Of all the football games I have ever attended at any level, that game was the most amazing from a crowd energy/noise perspective. The whole place was united with the team like I had never seen before. The decibels were off the chart with the touchdowns of J.J. Watt (pick-six), Arian Foster (tightrope on sidelines), and of course Andre Johnson tasting the end zone in his first-ever postseason contest. That game is in the top ten best memories in my life.
Despite the fact that Andre Johnson only experienced four seasons in Houston that ended with a winning record (two of which were 9-7 jams that did not feature playoff appearances) during his twelve years here, the stark reality that there are so many legitimate ways to answer this question tells you all you need to know.
Until J.J. Watt exploded onto the scene, Andre Johnson was the Houston Texans. There could not be a better person to begin a Ring of Honor at NRG Stadium, and I cannot wait to see it happen on Sunday afternoon.