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Postgame notebook: Texans vs. Colts


Man down: It sounds like the Texans will be without defensive end Connor Barwin for an extended period of time.

Barwin was carted off the field after a first-quarter collision with Antonio Smith. Coach Gary Kubiak said after the game that Barwin dislocated his right ankle.

"They're trying to get the pain under control right now," Kubiak said. "Obviously, we'll have to fix it (with surgery), but I don't know when. That's a tough loss. He's a fine young player doing some great things for us."

Barwin had 4.5 sacks as a rookie in 2009, more than any other rookie defensive end in the NFL. Because of his athleticism, the Texans came into the season with designs of using him in a variety of spots to give the defense different looks. Jesse Nading and Tim Jamison replaced Barwin against the Colts, with Nading recording two tackles and 0.5 sacks.

"It looked like Jesse played a great deal," Kubiak said. "That's part of this game. You lose players; you don't want to lose guys. We lost a very important one today, but it gives someone else the chance to come in. Somebody has to step up."

Daniels' return: Tight end Owen Daniels started in his first game since tearing his right ACL at Buffalo on Nov. 1, 2009. He was targeted twice by quarterback Matt Schaub and had one catch, a nine-yard gain for a first down, in the third quarter.

"I have no idea how many plays I played," Daniels said. "I know I played more plays in the first half than I did in the second half, or at least it felt like I did. But my knee held up really well. Like I said earlier in the week, I wasn't concerned about that. I felt good."

Daniels said that it took him a few series to get back into the flow and rhythm of the game, which is understandable given his long layoff. His emotions were running rampant.

"I knew it was going to be tough going for pregame warm-ups, running out there and my parents are sitting down there waiting for me," Daniels said. "It was tough keeping it together, but I did. I was definitely shaking and nervous as I've ever been, as amped up as I've ever been. It definitely took me a little bit to calm down, but once I did, I felt real good."

Maulers up front: Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison's Texans debut was a smashing success, as the Texans set a franchise rushing record with 257 yards. Fixing the running game was one of the Texans' top priorities this offseason after they ranked 30th in rushing in 2009.

"(The Colts) were trying to not give up big plays to us in our play-action and that type of thing," Kubiak said. "I thought Rick showed great patience in what we were doing offensively in the second half running the ball. It's nice to be able to line up when you get the football and try to close out a game."

Arian Foster had acres of room to run thanks to outstanding blocking from the offensive line.

"They were coming off the ball," Kubiak said. "I think (left guard) Wade (Smith) has been a great addition. I think playing both Mike (Brisiel) and Gump (Antoine Caldwell) has been a nice little combination (at right guard). I think (center) Chris Myers is healthy; I told you all he wasn't last year. They've played a lot of snaps together now, so hopefully we just continue to get better. They were the catalyst for the football team today."

Full throttle: Another driving force in the running game was fullback Vonta Leach, the lead blocker who cleared room for Foster and Steve Slaton.

"Ever since Dallas (on Aug. 28), he's played special for us," Kubiak said. "Vonta is a catalyst for our team. Where he goes, we tend to go. He's got some big-time ball in him."

Leach's hard-hitting mentality dates back to his days as a college linebacker at East Carolina.

"Linebacker and fullback are basically the same position, but one of them's on offense," he said. "That's the only difference."

They'll take the win: In his first game since leading the league in passing yards in 2009, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was only 9-of-17 for 107 passing yards as the Texans relied on on the run. Schaub's passing yards and attempts were his fewest in a full game as a Texan.

"I'd take it every single week if that's the outcome," Schaub said.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson, who led the NFL in receiving yards in both of the last two seasons, had three catches for 33 yards.

"They did a lot of doubling to him, which helps us running the football," Kubiak said. "It was an unselfish win."

Bringing down Manning: Defensive end Mario Williams teamed up with Antonio Smith to sack Peyton Manning for a seven-yard loss in the second quarter. Williams also combined with Nading to sack Manning for a seven-yard loss in the third quarter. 

Williams now has 6.0 sacks against Manning in his career. That's the most versus Manning by any player in the NFL since 2006. 

"He's not sacked often, so that's more of a challenge," Williams said. "I guess you just get ready for the challenge."

Not your average kicker: Kicker Neil Rackers was 2-for-2 on field goals in his Texans debut. Both came in the first quarter, giving the Texans a 6-0 lead.

Rackers' 30-yarder at the end of the Texans' first drive was the first field goal by anybody other than Kris Brown in Texans history. The second, a 49-yarder, was Rackers' longest field goal since a 54-yarder in 2008.

"Beautiful," Rackers said of kicking at Reliant Stadium. "It's a great place to be, and I went out and had a little fun."

Known for being aggressive in kickoff coverage, Rackers had an assisted tackle on special teams. He also had an unnecessary roughness penalty on a fourth-quarter kickoff, but it was nullified by a holding penalty on the Colts.

"He likes to go down there," Kubiak said. "He will make a tackle. You don't want to lose him, but I think that's what makes him tick. He likes being a part of that. He likes getting pushed around a bit and showing his teammates he'll go down there and make a tackle. He did a good job."

Packed house: The paid attendance at Reliant Stadium was 70,794. It was the third-largest crowd in franchise history and the largest for a home opener in team history. 

The Texans have sold out every home game in franchise history.

"They were awesome," Schaub said of the fans. "They really helped us out. They made it tough on their offense, making their checks and creating various penalties. They made it tough for them to communicate, and we need that for seven more weeks here at home in the regular season and then beyond from there."

Finishing touches: The Texans have struggled in previous years to put away teams, especially the Colts, in close games.

Six of the Texans' seven losses in 2009 were by eight points or less, including three- and eight-point losses to Indy. They made the plays to win on Sunday, not wilting after they gave up 10 unanswered points at the end of the first half to trim their lead to 13-10.

"We got after them," right tackle Eric Winston said. "That's the one thing that when you play the Colts, you better play whistle to whistle, you better play 60 minutes and you better finish them every play because there's no one better at getting off blocks and running to the ball.

"I think you saw the last part of last year and over the offseason that a lot of guys have grown up. I've grown up. This core of guys that we've done it with has grown up. That's what this thing's all about. We've got a lot of guys that played a lot of ball together, and we're all in it together. I think the maturity level more than anything else on this team is a lot higher."

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