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Foster leaves no doubt in return to starting lineup


*Tune in to Texans TV Monday at 3:30 p.m. CT to watch the live video stream of Coach Kubiak's weekly press conference.

He's back.

Arian Foster feasted on the Steelers defense like a starving dog Sunday in his first fully healthy game, rushing for 155 yards on 30 carries. His 42-yard fourth-quarter touchdown swung the momentum back to the Texans for a 17-10 victory.

"I go into every contest thinking I'm a go-to back," Foster said. "Every running back in the league has to feel like that. I think I can't go into a contest with a slighted amount of carries."

Foster led the NFL in rushing last season, but this season had been one of recovering from a hamstring injury that wouldn't seem to go away. Foster set out last week's loss at New Orleans, and that might have been a decision that helped beat the Steelers.

Foster went to work from the very start. He had 44 yards on 10 carries by the end of the first quarter.

"It was my first game back fully," Foster said. "I felt 100 percent. It was a nice welcome back. The guys were welcoming me. I just wanted to do what I could to help my team contribute to a win.

"I could have played last week, but they wanted to be assured I wasn't going to have a recurring problem. I was fine with it then. I understand it's a long season and people get caught up in the hype of every single week. What's important is how we finish the season."

Foster's presence on the field affected the entire offense.

"Having all your weapons at your disposal is key," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "What he brings to the run and the passing game is huge for us. He sees the field, cuts back to the hole and lets the offensive line work and then he makes people miss. It's huge to have him back."

The offensive line did their part.

"He's a special player, and he does a lot of things other backs can't and he sees things other backs don't," left tackle Duane Brown said. "He broke those big ones off for us. That last touchdown he had kind of took the wind out of their sails and gave us an edge."

The Texans allowed 23 fourth-quarter points a week ago to the Saints. This game, they sacked Ben Rothlisberger five times and the offense held up despite the losses of wide receiver Andre Johnson and backup running back Ben Tate.

"Against this team, you're doing everything you can to fight for third-and-threes and third-and-fours, because if you're third-and-10 you're in trouble," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "So Arian was the big key there, and you have to give the guys up front a lot of credit."

Kubiak was happy to see Foster able to carry the full load with Tate sidelined in the first quarter. Tate had two carries and Chris Ogbonnaya, activated from the practice squad before the game, carried once.

"It surprised me that he could handle 30 carries," Kubiak said.  "He's a player that plays better the more he plays. I didn't think we would have used him that much today had Ben been there the whole day, but the fact that he did hold up like that was the key to the game.

"We were able to run the ball pretty darn well."

Foster's touchdown run came with 12:02 left in the game after Pittsburgh had scored 10 unanswered points.

"It was an outside zone run, and it wasn't much thinking during the run," Foster said. "I was (aware) that they were overflowing on one side, so I took advantage of that and cut back and it was there."

Foster's 155 rushing yards were more than anybody had gained against the Steelers since 2003. Pittsburgh has had a top-three rushing defense in each of the last seven seasons.

"This is one of the most physical teams in the NFL," Foster said. "They pride themselves on their defense. My hats are off to those guys. They are tough. I'm sore.

"We believe that we don't need anybody else on our sides. All we need to know is that the 53 guys and coaches believe in ourselves.

"This is a week-to-week league. You can't worry about any of that. You can get labeled from one week to the next. It's about making plays when you have to."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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