OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — This is the time of year when T.J. Houshmandzadeh usually plunks himself in front of the television to watch the NFL playoffs.
Now it’s his turn to put on a show everyone else can enjoy.
Houshmandzadeh will play in his second career playoff game Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens face the Kansas City Chiefs. His only other foray into the postseason came with Cincinnati — five years and two teams ago.
Houshmandzadeh ranks 52nd in NFL history with 616 career catches and has scored 43 touchdowns in 137 regular-season games over 10 years. But it’s been a long time since he played this deep into January.
“I’m sure it’s going to be fun,” he said. “You’re the only game on TV and everybody’s watching. I know when I’m at home I plan my day around the playoffs, making sure I’m up in time if it’s an early game. So we’ve just got to go play well. There’s no more second chances.”
Houshmandzadeh got a coveted second opportunity to reach the playoffs after being cut in September by the Seattle Seahawks. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis assured him that Baltimore was the best place to be if wanted to win, and Houshmandzadeh signed as a free agent in a deal that proved beneficial to both parties.
As part of a gifted receiving crew that includes Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason, Houshmandzadeh had only 30 catches this season. Three went for touchdowns, including a game-winner at Pittsburgh in October with 32 seconds remaining.
Houshmandzadeh would have preferred to play a more active role in Baltimore’s passing game, but he can’t complain about being part of a team that finished 12-4 and in the playoffs. And if the Ravens need him against the Chiefs, the 33-year-old Houshmandzadeh will be ready.
“I’m just dying to do anything. Vertical, horizontal, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Just make some plays, have some fun. At this point, I’m being honest. It doesn’t matter. I just want to do my part, period.”
Houshmandzadeh entered the league in 2001 after being drafted in the seventh round by Cincinnati. He played eight years with the Bengals and made the Pro Bowl in 2007 during a season in which he set career highs with 112 catches for 1,143 yards.
Two years before that he participated in his lone playoff game, catching four passes for 25 yards and a touchdown in a 31-17 loss to Pittsburgh.
Houshmandzadeh’s role with the Ravens has been limited, in part because quarterback Joe Flacco has so many options. Boldin, Mason, running back Ray Rice and tight end Todd Heap all had more catches than Houshmandzadeh, who’s still trying to find his place in the offense.
“I don’t know where I fit. Sunday, we’ll answer that together,” he said. “I’ll know Sunday and everybody else will know. I don’t go into the games anymore expecting anything. I’m going to just bust my butt regardless of if I’m getting the ball or not, because if we don’t win I got a long time to rest anyway.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)