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Chemistry key in victory



CHARLOTTE** - It was a love fest in the Texans' locker room Sunday after the team's 34-21 win over the Carolina Panthers. Who could blame the players after the way they played in the biggest turnaround victory in franchise history?

Nothing is more symbolic of a team win than scoring 34 unanswered points, and the Texans knew it would take a cohesive effort to mount such a comeback in a hostile environment.

In fact, it was the reaction of quarterback Matt Schaub after the offense turned the ball over in the first quarter that motivated the defense to turn the game around.

"Even when things weren't looking good, he never dropped his head," cornerback Dunta Robinson said of Schaub. "He talked to the offensive guys to keep their heads up. He came to the defense to apologize for that early turnover…It was something that we'd never seen. We knew from that point on that we had a chance to win. Like I said, it's great to have a leader like that. The only emotion he shows is positive emotion."

{QUOTE}Poise doesn't seem to accurately describe Schaub's reaction to adversity. Taking blame for a giveaway even caught Robinson by surprise.

"If he wants to take the blame for it," Robinson said laughing, "then cool.

"There was no doubt in our mind that with the poise Matt plays with that he was going to bring us back and lead us to victory. He's not a quarterback that gets rattled."

The two units feel accountable to each other, which is what coach Gary Kubiak has been emphasizing since the day he was hired. Now it's finally happening, and the results speak for themselves.

"We're more unified," Robinson said. "The offensive guys believe in the defensive guys, and the defensive guys believe in the offensive guys. It forces us to come out and play for each other. You don't want to let the guys on the other side of the ball down, and they feel the same way about us."

Linebacker DeMeco Ryans says it's up to the players to support each other on the road when the fans are cheering against them. After tight end Owen Daniels' fumble in the first quarter, Ryans could be seen rallying his defense as the players returned to the field.

"I have to let my guys know that this isn't a bad situation," he said. "We're put in a good situation. It's time to go out here, and let's get the ball back for our offense. Then they can go out and capitalize and put points on the board.

"It's definitely a key to winning. You have to be excited, you have to be enthused, you have to be energetic out there on the field to keep the morale of the team up. That just helps us go out and make plays. When we're on the road, and we don't have the crowd behind us, we have to be the crowd for ourselves, be the crowd for our offense and be the crowd for our defense."

Kubiak acknowledged after the game that his team is growing up.

"We've got a different group (of players)," Kubiak said. "We've got a group of guys that believe in themselves – that are going to play for 60 minutes regardless of what's going on. And I think they showed that today."

There's a sense among the players that they've turned a page as a team. The slate is clean, and there's no more hangover from past seasons.

"The way we worked in the offseason, you could tell there's a different buzz, a different feeling going around this team," Ryans said. "It just had to happen for us. Like I said, we're playing with a lot more confidence. We're a lot more calm in situations where we would've panicked last year and not got the job done. We're maturing as a team."

A week from now, the Texans will discover just how much they've improved when the defending Super Bowl champions arrive at Reliant Stadium for Deep Steel Sunday.

The Indianapolis Colts have been the big bully on the AFC South block for far too long. The Texans are the last team to beat the Colts, and they want to continue that streak. The world will be watching.

"We're just going to keep plugging (away), keep winning, sticking together as a team and keep doing the things that we're capable of doing," Ryans said.

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