HOUSTON – The Houston Texans opened 2010 strong by beating the defending AFC champion and division rival Indianapolis Colts for only the second time in franchise history.Â The 34-24 victory indicated the team is ready to break out as a serious threat to the Colt\’s reign atop the AFC South and erase eight years of futility from the city\’s memory.
What Went Right
The Texans ranked 30th out of 32 teams in rushing last season and have never had an elite running back since their formation in 2002.Â Texan running backs have emassed good single seasons, but always followed them with injury or disappointment.Â Arian Foster, building on last year\’s late-season success that won him the starting job, made an emphatic statement that he will not fall victim to the Texans running back curse.
The Colts had no answer for Foster, who trampled them for 3 touchdowns and a Texans team-record 231 rushing yards.Â Foster\’s rushing total is also the most ever allowed by the Colts and the second most opening weekend rushing yards in NFL history.
Steve Slaton, who tallied over 1000 yards in 2008 before fumbling away his starting job in 2009, carried the ball 6 times without coughing it up.Â If Foster can continue to pound the ball with Slaton\’s occasional assistance behind fullback Vonta Leach\’s fearless blocking and the gaping holes created by the offensive line, the Texans will add another valuable facet to their already dangerous offense.
What Went Wrong
The defense was all over Peyton Manning in the first quarter, holding the Colts scoreless.Â Mario Williams and the defensive line hit Manning hard and often early and the perennial Pro-Bowler looked uncharacteristically frustrated.Â However, in the second quarter, Manning figured out the Texans defense and picked them apart, piling up 10 second-quarter points.
In the second half, the Texans really had no answer for Manning.Â Apart from an Austin Collie fumble after a deep catch, the Texans were unable to stop him.Â Despite holding the high-powered Colts to 24 points, the Texans allowed Manning a career-high 40 completions.Â Though other quarterbacks may not possess Manning\’s ability to read a defense, the Texans need to work on their two-minute drill pass defense so their secondary will not be open season for the league\’s pass heavy offenses.
Going into halftime, the momentum had clearly swung in favor of the Colts.Â Shaub had just thrown an interception and visions of last season\’s collapse against Indy were dancing in the Texans\’ heads.Â However, head coach Gary Kubiack started the second half by establishing the running game and eating up the clock, effectively taking the ball out of Peyton Manning\’s hands.
Work on It
For next week against the new-look Washington Redskins, the Texans will face another prolific quarterback in Donovan McNabb.Â In addition to learning how to stop a passing attack, they need to balance their newfound rushing dominance with their own passing attack.Â While today\’s run-heavy approach was strategic and effective, the Texans can\’t win every game with Matt Shaub only attempting 17 passes and Andre Johnson only catching three for 33 yards.Â Plus, if Foster continues to carry the ball like he did today, he\’ll break down before season\’s end.Â The Texans have always had electrifying passing and abysmal running, and now that the running appears to have caught up with the passing, they should blend them together into an explosive and balanced offense.
Numerical Indications of Athletic Achievement
Final Score: Colts â€“ 24, Texans â€“ 34
Shaub: 9/17, 107yds, 1 TD, 1 Int
Foster: 33 rush, 231 yds, 3 TD
Slaton: 6 rush, 29 yds
Johnson: 3 rec, 33 yds
Jones: 2 rec, 29 yds
Walter: 2 rec, 29 yds, 1 TD
Rackers: 2/2 FG, 4 XPM
This is the first installment of CultureMob’s season-long coverage of the Houston Texans.Â Check back after each game for a recap and analysis.Â Each game will be broken down and I’ll discuss what went right, what went wrong, the turning point in the game and what the team needs to do to get ready for next week.