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Johnson haunts former team with 2 TDs in Colts' win

Kristie Rieken
Associated Press

Houston — Matt Hasselbeck and Andre Johnson showed Thursday night that sometimes old guys can shine in what is certainly a young man’s league.

The 34-year-old Johnson caught two touchdown passes from the 40-year-old Hasselbeck, the second for 2 yards in the fourth quarter, to help the Indianapolis Colts beat the Houston Texans 27-20.

“You get over the age of 30 they kind of count you out,” Johnson said. “But we proved to people that we could still play.”

Released by Houston in March after 12 seasons with the team, Johnson had six catches for 77 yards.

The Colts (3-2) extended their AFC South winning streak to an NFL-record 16 games.

Hasselbeck was filling in for Andrew Luck, who missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury.

Hasselbeck’s performance was even more impressive given the fact that he was battling a bacterial infection that hospitalized him this week. He started feeling ill just before halftime Sunday in a victory over Jacksonville and didn’t start feeling better until Thursday night.

“I honestly feel like this isn’t even real right now,” Hasselbeck said.

Coach Chuck Pagano raved about Hasselbeck.

“He was literally on his deathbed Monday/Tuesday and mustered up enough to come in Wednesday and practice,” Pagano said. “He was getting IVs and fighting a virus and the grittiest performance I’ve seen in a long, long time.”

Former Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer, who replaced Ryan Mallett for Houston (1-4) in the second quarter, threw a pass up for grabs that was intercepted by Mike Adams with less than 2 minutes left.

Johnson extended the lead to 27-17 with the 2-yard reception with about 10 1/2 minutes left. The Texans intercepted Hasselbeck’s pass in the end zone earlier in that drive, but the play was negated because of defensive holding on Eddie Pleasant. A second penalty, this one for pass interference gave the Colts a first down at the 1.

Mallett, who played one season at Michigan, got the wind knocked out of him on an illegal hit midway through the second quarter and was replaced by Hoyer. Mallett looked to be OK soon after that, but coach Bill O’Brien stuck with Hoyer. He finished with 312 yards passing with two touchdowns. Both of the touchdowns were to rookie Jaelen Strong and they came on his first two NFL receptions.

DeAndre Hopkins had 11 receptions for 169 yards for Houston.

“We’re not happy obviously,” J.J. Watt said. “But we’re going to go back to work and figure it out.”