Second-year running back Ben Tate Has played in two games in his NFL career. He has topped 100 yards in both of them after tallying 103 yards on 23 carries on Sunday.
Tate is the 11th player in NFL history with 100-plus yards in the first two games of his career. He had 18 carries for 82 yards in the second half Sunday to help the Texans protect a 16-3 halftime lead.
"He's growing up before our eyes," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's fun to watch. It's fun to watch a good player become a pro."
Tate also had four catches for 32 yards as he filled in for Arian Foster, who did not play in the second half because of tightness in his hamstring.
"I know when a guy goes down or is not going, I have to do whatever I can to help the team win," Tate said. "I prepare like a starter, so I'm always ready."
Right at home: Wide receiver Andre Johnson, a Miami native and former Miami Hurricane, had seven catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Johnson bought 170 tickets for the game, doing his part to take away the Dolphins' home field advantage.
"I grew up right here in this area," Johnson said. "My childhood dream was to play in this stadium. It's a lot of fun to be back home and play in front of your family and friends."
Johnson's touchdown came on a slant-and-go double move at the expense of cornerback Nolan Carroll, an injury replacement for Vontae Davis. The 23-yard score put the Texans up 23-13 early in the fourth quarter, not long after Johnson missed a potential long touchdown pass from Matt Schaub late in the third quarter.
"I was just waiting for another chance to make a play," Johnson said. "When the play was called, I was real antsy and was hoping that Matt was going to throw me the ball… The way (Carroll) was playing me, I knew that it was six. When I came off the line and saw the way he was playing me, I knew that it would be a touchdown."
Worth every penny: Cornerback Johnathan Joseph had his first interception as a Texan and three passes defensed. More impressive was that he did it while overcoming an ankle injury that temporarily sent him to the sidelines.
"They brought me in here to be a big-time player in this league," Joseph said. "You have to play sometimes when you are banged up. You have to play through it. Today was one of those instances where I had the chance to go back in and finish the game back up."
Joseph, a free agent acquisition from Cincinnati this offseason, called his injury "just a sprain; nothing serious" and said that he was being precautionary with it. The Dolphins scored their lone touchdown of the game when he was out in the third quarter.
Deflections galore: Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne completed just 12 of 30 pass attempts on Sunday. Part of the reason was the Texans' propensity for batting down passes at the line of scrimmage.
Outside linebackers Mario Williams and Connor Barwin and defensive end Antonio Smith all got in on the act. Williams also caused an interception on the first play of the second quarter when he hit Henne as he threw.
"We're definitely coming," Williams said of the Texans' pass rush. "We got guys showing up left and right, just trying to be relentless; just trying to get back there and make it happen. We just keep progressing and keep getting better."
Rookie defensive end J.J. Watt blocked a 22-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter. Watt (6-5, 288) had four blocked kicks at Wisconsin and showed a knack for batting down passes in college and the preseason.
"I'm just trying to help the team win any way I can – if it's special teams, if it's defense, anything I can do," Watt said.
Hartmann breaks record: Rookie punter Brett Hartmann set a new team record with a 69-yard punt in the second quarter. That broke the previous mark of 62 yards by a comfortable margin.
"I didn't even know that until after the game," Hartmann said, smiling. "I felt comfortable, and I've got a great coverage team and a great long snapper, Jon Weeks. So (I) just went out there and swung nice and easy, and it just took care of itself. I had a little breeze at my back."
An undrafted rookie from Central Michigan, Hartmann set a team record for touchbacks on kickoffs with six in Week 1. He averaged 47.8 yards per punt against the Dolphins with a net average of 41.2, adding two touchbacks on five kickoffs.
"I think he was huge today," Kubiak said. "We went young at that position. (Special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano) has got a lot of confidence in him. He was a big factor in the game. Neil (Rackers) continues to be automatic, and the kid's (Hartmann) kicking the ball out of the end zone. Special teams-wise, we're off to a good start this year."
1-0: You wouldn't know the Texans were 2-0 by talking with players after the game. Reaction was uniformly business-like, just as it was after Week 1. The Texans were 2-0 last season before finishing 6-10.
"We've been in this situation before," Johnson said. "The only thing that matters is just winning. You can be 2-0, but we've got to move towards next week. We've got to stay focused, not get complacent. This is a marathon, it's not a sprint. We've got to play 14 more games. Every wee, we're going to try to go 1-0. We were 1-0 today."
Williams repeated that refrain.
"We're 1-0, man," he said. "The two games are behind us. We'll fly into Houston, get in late, tomorrow we'll just wake up and come in and get another practice in, watch the film and try to be 1-0 again – just 1-0."