KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jonathan Wells used his feet all day against the Kansas City Chiefs. He got those tough, punishing yards for nearly four quarters.
But the running back's soft hands on the game's final drive made up for all the aches and pains he'll have in his legs and knees Monday morning.
Wells replaced starting running back Domanick Davis early in the Texans 24-21 victory over the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. He then faced some of the more intense action he had seen since he led the team in rushing in 2002.
He stepped up numerous times, but a first-down catch out of the back field on third-and-seven kept the Texans final drive alive – a drive which culminated in Kris Brown's game-winning field goal.
It was Wells' only catch of the day and one of only three successful third-down conversions for the Texans (1-2).
"I'm always ready to play," he said. "I work hard. I've just been waiting to get an opportunity. Today (Davis) went down so I felt it's my duty to step up and play for the other guys on this team."
Wells was banged up throughout training camp and moved to number two on the depth chart two weeks ago when Tony Hollings injured his knee. He carried the ball 10 times for 37 yards and scored on a two-point conversion against the Chiefs (0-3).
Davis suffered a sprained ankle in the game. The team doesn't expect it to limit him much in the coming week.
Wells also played heavily on special teams, a role he has embraced as the Texans running attack changed since 2002.
But it was good to run the ball again.
"I came here to play running back," Wells said. "They didn't draft me as a special teams player, they drafted me as a back. I've had my injuries here and there that have slowed me down, but I'm going to work hard next week and I'm going to get better."
But Wells wasn't the only Texan to step up in this game.
Sure, free safety Marcus Coleman spun the momentum around in the third quarter with a team-record 102 yard interception return, however others helped key the team's comeback from a 14-6 deficit.
"We have a very young team," head coach Dom Capers said. "I think we started three rookies on defense today. If we can stay the course here, this team's going to get better as the season goes on. It's a challenge and it challenges what you're all about. But I think our guys showed what they're all about. We had to overcome some injuries when we lost Domanick Davis with a sprained ankle during the course of the game. Corey Bradford, you know, has a shoulder sprain. Some guys had to step it up."
Bradford's absence placed an immediate strain on the remaining receivers.
But that didn't bother Derick Armstrong. It was his 35-yard reception as the clock counted down that put the Texans into field goal range. Armstrong caught a total of two passes against the Chiefs for 55 yards.
"It was a three-step drop and Derick's got to have confidence that he's going to catch the football," Capers said. "It was a clutch play in a clutch situation."
Then there was the defense.
The Chiefs held the ball for more than 35 minutes in the game, but the Texans defense managed to come through at all the right times. Third-down efficiency was not perfect (the Chiefs converted 62 percent of their third downs) but it was solid when it counted.
Linebacker Antwan Peek had been relegated to special teams in the team's first two games. He got in for about a dozen snaps on defense Sunday and made his presence known.
Peek sacked quarterback Trent Green to start the Chief's final possession. He applied noticeable pressure at other parts of the game.
It was a solid performance for Peek, who played defensive end at Cincinnati and has had some trouble converting to linebacker and covering more in the passing game.
"I had that aggressive mentality going in," he said. "I was really hungry. It was my first opportunity… I just tried to make something happen. The opportunity was there and I took advantage of it."