JACKSONVILLE – NamasTate?
Arian Foster and Ben Tate gave a performance befitting of Foster's trademark touchdown celebration, a fist-in-hand "Namaste" bow, on Sunday at Jacksonville. The NFL's top running back tandem from a season ago combined for 184 rushing yards and three touchdowns, helping the Texans set a franchise record with 43:17 in time of possession in a 27-7 victory.
"They push each other," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "They feed off each other. I thought Ben really gave us some juice early in the game... They fed off each other and played very well."
Excluding an eight-play, 32-yard drive on which they ran out the final five minutes of game clock, the Texans had 75 offensive plays and had 379 yards on Sunday. Foster or Tate got the ball on 50 of those plays (66.6 percent) and combined for 244 yards (64.3 percent).
Foster and Tate combined for 40 carries (Foster 28, Tate 12) and 10 catches (Foster six, Tate four). Foster had 147 yards from scrimmage (110 rushing, 37 receiving). Tate had 97 yards from scrimmage (73 rushing, 24 receiving).
"I see him break a run and I'm chomping at the bit and thinking, 'I could outdo that,'" Tate said. "Then I go out there and break one, and then he's out there saying, 'I could outdo that.' So it's a good, friendly competition out there and also helps this team go. I think it's very important for both of us."
Foster and Tate were the only teammates in the NFL with more than 800 rushing yards apiece last season. Foster, a two-time Pro Bowler, ranked fifth in the league with 1,224 yards and first in yards from scrimmage per game (141.6). Tate, a 2010 second-round draft pick who missed his rookie season with an ankle injury, had 942 yards and ranked seventh in yards per carry (5.4).
The Texans struggled to run the ball in Week 1 against Miami, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry on 35 attempts. Foster and Tate helped them get untracked on Sunday, as the team averaged 4.5 yards per carry and totaled 211 rushing yards.
"That's the Houston Texans," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "When you have two backs like we do with Arian and Ben and the group up front with our tight ends on the edge and the receivers blocking in the secondary, they're going to be productive. It was fun to get back to that today."
Tate got the ball first Sunday on the Texans' fourth play from scrimmage, taking a short pass to the right for an 11-yard gain. He ran for five yards a play later. Foster then ran for four yards on back-to-back plays. Two plays later, Tate ran for nine yards, then two. That accounted for six touches and 35 yards on the Texans' game-opening 13-play, 66-yard drive.
Two drives later, Tate juked and stiff-armed his way to a 24-yard run down the right sideline that initially was ruled a 26-yard touchdown. After it was overturned on a replay review, Foster scored on a one-yard run to put the Texans up 10-0. In the second quarter, Foster had an 18-yard catch and nine-yard run on back-to-back plays. Tate followed suit three plays later with an eight-yard touchdown run up the middle.
"He's a great back, man," Foster said of Tate. "It's fun to watch him. I tell him all the time, he could start in this league a lot of places and just to keep his head down and go to work. It's fun to be a part of a backfield like that."
The Texans' reliance on Foster and Tate was never more apparent than on their 17-play, 80-yard, clock-killer of a touchdown drive in the third quarter. Foster and Tate got the ball on 13 of the final 15 plays.
Foster ran for three yards on third-and-two from the Houston 28. Tate took a short pass seven yards, then ran for seven more to the Houston 45. Tate lost a yard on a run up the middle. Schaub passed to Andre Johnson for an 11-yard gain, then handed off to Foster for gains of six and three.
Tate made one of the plays of the game on third-and-one from the Jacksonville 36. He caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage to the left that looked doomed for a loss, cut to his right around a defender and burst forward for a three-yard gain and first down.
Tate ran for two yards on the next play, followed by a 15-yard catch by tight end Garrett Graham to the 16-yard line. From there, Foster ran for eight, one, three and two yards. Tate finished the drive – and with it, the Jaguars – with a two-yard touchdown run up the middle. That made the score 24-7 and capped a drive that took 9:14 off the clock.
"I think we were on the field for like 40 plus minutes this game," Foster said. "That doesn't happen a lot in the NFL. It was a good game for us, and that (drive) was a big part of it."
Foster and Tate were a big part of the Texans' dominant Week 2 victory. Foster brought his usual smoothness, power, vision and acceleration. Tate brought his explosiveness, violence and big-play burst. The Texans brought them both to Jacksonville and are now 2-0.