Dominant defense leads way in 34-7 victory over Colts


**The Texans' defense dominated from start to finish in a resounding Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium.

In Wade Phillips' first game as defensive coordinator, the Texans limited the Peyton Manning-less Colts to 236 yards and forced two turnovers. They raced to a 34-0 halftime lead before cruising to a 34-7 finish in front of 71,444 fans at Reliant Stadium.

"It's as good as it comes," Texans chairman and CEO Bob McNair said. "To dominate a team like this is outstanding, and they are a good ballclub. We knew we had to improve our defense, and I think it's clear our defense is much improved. Our offense is good, and we knew that."

With Arian Foster sidelined by a hamstring injury, running back Ben Tate had 24 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. Outside linebacker Mario Williams had two sacks and a forced fumble, and defensive end Antonio Smith had one sack and forced fumble.

"Defensively as a group, I thought we really rallied to the ball," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We just played hard."

After pregame ceremonies honoring the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Texans safety Danieal Manning returned the opening kickoff 46 yards to the Houston 40-yard line. Matt Schaub then completed a 21-yard pass to Andre Johnson, but his next passed was deflected and picked off by Colts safety Melvin Bullitt.

Four plays later, Williams sacked Collins for a nine-yard loss. Rookie defensive end J.J. Watt made an open-field tackle one play later on third-and-17 to force a punt. Schaub then drove the Texans 73 yards in 13 plays for a 25-yard Neil Rackers field goal.

The Texans scored two touchdowns in a span of 1:15 after Collins fumbled on consecutive plays late in the first quarter. The first fumble came on Smith's sack and was recovered Shaun Cody at the Colts' 12-yard line. Derrick Ward ran in for a one-yard touchdown three plays later.

Collins fumbled again on the next play, and Watt recovered at the Indianapolis 18 to set up a two-yard touchdown run by Tate.

Schaub had three passes for 53 yards to Johnson on a 10-play, 89-yard scoring drive in the second quarter, including a four-yard touchdown. Johnson finished the game with a team-high seven catches for 95 yards.

That was followed by a nine-play, 51-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard field goal by Rackers. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones tacked on another score with a field-reversing 79-yard punt return in the final minute of the first half.

The Texans' 34-0 halftime lead was the biggest in team history. They outgained the Colts 259-72, limiting Indianapolis to five first downs.

"It was a good feeling to have the lead, but it's a good football team," Schaub said. "They have a lot of talent... they're capable of making plays. We had to come out with the same mindset and keep going."

Neither team scored in the third quarter. The closest that Indianapolis got was a drive that ended with a punt at the Texans' 39-yard line.

Running back Steve Slaton started the next drive with a 13-yard gain. A 25-yard pass from Schaub to Jones and 18-yard run by Tate got the Texans into the red zone, but Schaub threw his second interception on third-and-goal from the nine early in the fourth quarter.

The Colts scored with 9:17 left in the fourth quarter after Tate lost a fumble at the Texans' 13-yard line. They drove to the Texans' seven-yard line on their next drive, but Williams sacked Collins on third-and-five. The Texans forced an incompletion on the next play for a turnover on downs, then ran out the last 4:49 of the clock.

"We expected to shut them out, so we were hurt when they scored," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "We like the way we played. We know we can still clean things up, be better, and keep that goose egg on the board."

Notes: Texans running back Derrick Ward (ankle) and wide receiver Kevin Walter (collarbone) left the game with injuries and did not return.

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