Robinson hold lets Texans slip away

HOUSTON --  Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson returned to Houston on Sunday, hoping to make a play that would be the difference against his former team.

He did. Just the wrong play for the wrong team.

With the Falcons and Houston tied 10-10 early in the fourth quarter, Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates tried to connect with running back Arian Foster over the middle. But the pass was intercepted by linebacker Mike Peterson, who returned it 31 yards for an apparent touchdown to give the Falcons the lead.

But Robinson, who played six years in Houston, was flagged for defensive holding on receiver Kevin Walter. The penalty not only nullified the touchdown and the interception, it gave the Texans a first down at their 37-yard line. They wound up driving down the field for a 19-play touchdown drive that made it 17-10, which is how the game ended.

Robinson’s tenure with the Falcons since signing a six-year, $57 million contract in 2010 hasn’t been great. It just got worse.

“I knew Kevin Walter was a physical receiver and I had to be physical with him,” he said. “We were both pushing and shoving. When I saw the flag, I thought it might be on him. But most of the time [the receiver] is going to get [the benefit of] that call.

“I take full responsibility. I knew I just cost us some points and unfortunately we weren’t able to recover from that.”

The Falcons’ secondary is a significant concern. Brent Grimes, who has been the team’s best cornerback, is expected to miss one or two more games after having knee surgery last week. With Kelvin Hayden also out, Dominique Franks has been pressed into duty as the starting left cornerback in Grimes’ spot, and the often maligned Chris Owens enters in nickel situations.

Yates, the former Pope High School player making his first NFL starts, was effective Sunday in play-action situations. He completed 12 of 25 for 188 yards and a touchdown. He also didn’t throw an interception – at least none that counted. Wide receiver Andre Johnson had four catches cover 90 yards – including a 50-yarder that set up a touchdown – before leaving with a pulled hamstring.

“They found the soft spots in our zone,” Robinson said.

As for Robinson, his first game against the Texans wasn’t what he had hoped for.

“Definitely not,” he said. “We all were hoping to do better. We came into this game fully expecting to win. But they just made more plays.”

Legal ones.