Cedric Killings was injured in the second quarter blocking on a kickoff return.
The Texans already were hurting from injuries before Sunday's game against Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis. Then, defensive tackle Cedric Killings went down in the second quarter with a neck injury and it got really frightening.
A sold-out (70,765) Reliant Stadium went silent. Memories flashed of Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury on Sept. 9 in a game against the Denver Broncos.
Killings dropped after a collision with Colts receiver Roy Hall on a Texans' kickoff return. Killings was motionless as trainers and team doctors attended to the 6-3, 310-pound reserve player.
"After the Everett incident I think we're all sensitive to that," Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy said. "Roy has a shoulder injury and it was a heck of a collision, no question about it."
Players formed a somber semi-circle near their fallen teammate as team physicians and attendants secured Killings to be lifted onto a stretcher. He was rolled from the field on a stretcher and taken to a hospital.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak stood beside Killings on the field.
"Cedric Killings, when he was on the field, was moving everything," Kubiak said. "He was talking to me, he called out to his teammates a couple of times. He has a big cut under his right eye. He was in a big collision.
"He's at Methodist (Hospital). We'll put him through a series of tests tonight. All indications appear to be real positive."
Hall felt like he'd been in an auto accident.
"A crash, it was like a car crash," Hall said. "People describe big hits like a car crash. I think Sports Illustrated did a big article on hits like that, and that's what it feels like, a car crash."
The Texans started the game with two starters, wide receiver Andre Johnson and backup running back Ron Dayne, on the inactive list with injuries.
In the second quarter, running back Ahman Green suffered a knee injury. Rookie standout Jacoby Jones got a left shoulder injury in the fourth quarter and starting center Steve McKinney injured his left knee in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver André Davis dislocated a finger.
"We've got some guys beat up and I don't have a lot of answers for you," Kubiak said. "I'm sorry. We should have more for you tomorrow as we work through these guys tonight."
The Texans still made it close at the end before the 30-24 loss.
"We're a team that when we have a player lying out there, guys are distraught, but we hung together," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "We went back out and kept going."
Jones was off to a flying start as a preseason surprise from tiny Lane College.
"We were trying to get into a rhythm, but unfortunately we were dropping like flies out there today," Jones said.
Killings is in his second season with the Texans as a backup defensive lineman.
"You pray for these guys to recover," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said. "You don't wish that upon anybody. You just hope these guys are able to recover."
Killings blocked Hall as Jerome Mathis returned a kickoff in the second quarter after the Colts had taken a 14-10 lead. Both players went down and Hall walked slowly off the field with help.
"We had guys going down out there," left tackle Ephraim Salaam said. "My prayers go out to the guys that got hurt. We're trying to build something we can be proud of."
Salaam was especially thoughtful of Killings' condition.
"My prayers go out to him and his family," Salaam said. "This is a rough business we're in. Every week we see something terrible happening. It's just the business we're in. I hope he's all right."
Killings was cut by the Texans on Sept. 1 and resigned two weeks later to add depth to the defensive line.
"They said he could move all his limbs," Salaam said. "That's what we were worried about. Other than that, we don't know anything. We're just praying that the worst didn't happen. Right now, they say he can move and that's all we hoped."
Cornerback Dunta Robinson had flashbacks to Everett when Killings went down.
"At first, I didn't know what was going on," cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "But anytime you have a guy go down, you worry about them, especially considering what happened to the guy in Buffalo. It was a scary situation."
Green left the game in the second quarter after catching a pass and was tackled after a nine-yard gain.
"We just have to step up if we lose a key player," Mario Williams said. "We've just got to step it up at whatever position we lost a player."
McKinney said he'd get an MRI for an accurate diagnosis of his injury.
"I'm worried," he said. "I haven't had anything like this and I don't want anything to prevent me from being out there on the field. I'm praying this is not going to be something that prevents that."
McKinney returned to the game after his injury.
"I probably ended up making it worse, but my mindset is I want to be on the field if it's not going to kill me," McKinney said.
McKinney has played in every game since the Texans were formed in 2002.
The Texans kept the game close even though many starters were unable to finish the game. Kalu praised the Texans' resiliency.
"It's rough," he said. "We not only lost the game, but we lost some valuable players. My hat's off to my teammates because they kept fighting even though we lost all those guys."
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.