HOUSTON — Year after agonizing year, Andre Johnson was asked about his goals for the season and his answer never changed.
"I want to get this team to the playoffs," he would say.
Now, after years of often terrible seasons, Johnson and the Texans have reached that goal. They will face Cincinnati on Saturday in the franchise's first playoff game.
This is Houston's 10th season, and Johnson has been there for all but Year 1. That makes him the longest-tenured player on the roster and the only one who's been in Houston longer than coach Gary Kubiak.
The receiver is the face of the franchise. When the Texans were at their worst, he was one of the only recognizable names on the team.
Johnson was long considered one of the NFL's top receivers, and many questioned why he chose to remain with the Texans when they were never even close to reaching the postseason.
Some also wondered if this team would ever make the playoffs. Johnson wasn't among them, though he never thought it would take this long.
"I always thought positive about it," he said. "It's been some frustrating times and I've had people ask me why didn't I leave? Why did I stay? I just wanted to be a part of something special. I wanted to be here when the Texans got in the first playoff game."
Johnson had chances to leave, but signed two contract extensions. The second one will keep him with the team through 2016. Everyone in the organization is happy the 30-year-old receiver is finally getting his playoff shot.
"Think about how long he's stuck it out here in Houston," said Kubiak, who was hired in 2006. "A lot of guys in this day and time move along, go somewhere else, lose their patience. Andre has never done that. He's been a rock around here."
Johnson has had a tough season, dealing with injuries to both hamstrings. The seven games he's played this season are a career low. He finished with more than 1,200 yards receiving the each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 1,575 in 2008, but had a career-worst 492 this season.