HOUSTON — The surging Atlanta Falcons appeared to have the advantage heading into Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, whose rookie quarterback T.J. Yates was making his first NFL start.
It didn’t turn out that way.
Yates threw a touchdown pass, Arian Foster rushed for 111 yards and Houston overcame another injury to Andre Johnson to beat Atlanta 17-10.
The Texans (9-3) have won a franchise-record six consecutive games, a remarkable feat considering they’re down to their third-string quarterback and have played the bulk of their streak without their star receiver.
“This is a league of talented players,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “First-teamers, second-teamers, third-teamers – I think we had the advantage on paper, but you’ve always got to go out and play the game. It doesn’t matter who was on the other side.”
Johnson left in the third quarter after hurting his left hamstring. He injured his right hamstring in Week 4, underwent minor surgery and sat out six games.
Coach Gary Kubiak said after the game that he was told the injury was not severe, but he couldn’t be certain until Johnson undergoes tests today.
The Falcons (7-5) sputtered offensively much of the day and lost for just the second time in seven games. Houston’s top-ranked defense knocked down two passes by Matt Ryan in the end zone in the closing seconds.
“We had opportunities to make some plays and we didn’t make them,” Ryan said. “It’s disappointing.”
Atlanta hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in its previous 14 games and entered having allowed the second-fewest yards rushing per game in the NFL.
After Johnson went down, Foster ably took over the offensive load, carrying 10 times on Houston’s decisive drive. Foster scored with 6:05 left, and then it was up to the Texans’ defense to finish.
Atlanta got the ball back with 59 seconds left, and Ryan threw a deep pass to Julio Jones to the Texans 25. But Ryan overthrew Roddy White in one corner of the end zone and Kareem Jackson swatted away a pass to Jones in the other corner as time expired.
“I had the opportunity to make that play and I just had to come up with the catch at the end,” Jones said.
Ryan completed 20 of 46 passes for 267 yards, but also threw two picks.