If there were any lingering questions about his health, Ninkovich certainly answered them with 4:20 left in the third quarter. With Houston in New England territory and facing third and 8, Matt Schaub threw for James Casey over the middle, but his pass floated a bit.
Ninkovich showed his hops, leaping for the ball and pulling in the interception.
It was the type of timely play Ninkovich has made all season, though he had no answer for how he makes the plays.
“That seems to happen for me since I was a kid — high school, junior college, college,” Ninkovich said. “I don’t know, I can’t explain it, but I guess I’ll keep doing it.”
The offense gladly took the turnover, and quickly turned it into a touchdown.
Tight end Aaron Hernandez, who looked the best he’s looked since his Week 2 ankle injury, had a 14-yard gain on second down, and Ridley found the hole between Nate Solder and Logan Mankins for a 23-yard gain.
The 5-yard touchdown pass went to Brandon Lloyd, playing in his first career playoff game 10 years into his NFL career.