Texans-Colts postgame notebook

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The Texans returned to Reliant Stadium for their home opener hungry for a win after three losses on the road. Houston, however, let a 17-point lead slip away in the final five minutes and lost 31-27 to the Indianapolis Colts.

Three great quarters, three costly turnovers: The Texans played almost perfect football for three quarters. They didn't commit a penalty. Quarterback Sage Rosenfels didn't throw an interception.

In the first three quarters, the Texans had more net yards than the Colts and had outrushed Indy by 40 yards. Going into the fourth quarter, the Houston had a 20-10 lead.

All of that changed at the end of the game. With about eight minutes remaining, the Texans' defense allowed quarterback Peyton Manning to move the ball 81 yards drive and connect with tight end Tom Santi for a 7-yard touchdown to make the score 27-17.

On the ensuing drive, Rosenfels fumbled the ball, which linebacker Gary Brackett recovered and returned for a 68-yard touchdown.

"We all know that I should have probably just gone down and punted and get them backed up and made them have to go 90 yards," Rosenfels said. "I was just being aggressive and trying to make a play and I could smell the first down and I saw the first guy and got hit by the second down. The ball came out and obviously, if I had it again, I'd just back down and take fourth-and-five and we'd be fine."

{QUOTE}Rosenfels was sacked on the following drive and fumbled the ball again. Defensive end Robert Mathis recovered the ball this time, setting up a touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Reggie Wayne to give Indy a 31-27 lead.

"You just have to protect the ball right there and if you have to punt you just punt," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "Three minutes and whatever was left they would have had no time outs. You just have to protect the ball and play defense. "

It looked like Houston had life with Rosenfels getting the offense into Indy territory, but wide receiver Andre Johnson was tripped on a route and Rosenfels threw the ball into straight into the hands of free safety Melvin Bullitt.

"We played as good as we could have played for three and a half quarters and I feel like I let all 53 guys and all 15 of our coaches down," Rosenfels said. " And we played a great game. I just made some bad mistakes at the end."

The interception sealed the Texans' fate and left the players feeling devastated in the locker room after the game.

"I'm like numb about the situation that just happened today," cornerback DeMarcus Faggins. "We tasted the win. We were up two touchdowns and a field goal with like eight, nine minutes left in the game. There's no reason – there wasn't a doubt in my mind that (made me think) we were going to lose that game. We should've won the game but, I mean, it's the NFL. Everybody's athletes, everybody's professional, so you've got to play four quarters. Not three-and-a-half, not two. You've got to play all the way to the zeroes at the end of the fourth quarter."

The loss was especially painful for Johnson, who broke out for nine catches and 131 receiving yards after two quiet games. With his third reception, Johnson surpassed 5,000 career receiving yards.

"I've been around here for six years, and it's hard," said Johnson, who surpassed 5,000 career receiving yards with his third rececption. "When I was in college, you didn't really have to lose any games, and then you come to a new organization. You knew there was going to be some rough times, but you didn't think the rough times would last this time. I always said that I wanted to be a part of something special around here, you know, a new organization, help get the organization to where it wants to be."

Players stand behind Rosenfels: Although Rosenfels committed the three turnovers that cost the Texans the game, the quarterback also put the team in a position to win. And the players in the locker room said Rosenfels could not be blamed for the loss.

"Sage played very well," guard Chester Pitts said. "He was composed. He was getting it done. I had nothing but the utmost faith in him throughout the game. He was playing. He was trying to win the game; he was trying to finish it out. If the opportunity was all over again, I'd tell him to go for it the same way. In this game, you have to go for it. You can't play it safe. Teams are just too good. They went out and got us today."

Rosenfels started in place of Matt Schaub, who was taken to the hospital Saturday night to treat a viral infection.

"Today, he had the opportunity," Johnson said. "And it seemed like everything was going great for us and then all of the sudden, it was like a disaster. We want to rally behind Sage. We're not going to let him hang his head. We think we have two great quarterbacks and both of them are capable of running the field. We just want to rally behind him and keep supporting."

Schaub said it was hard for him to watch Rosenfels struggle in the final minutes of the game

"I felt for him," Schaub said. "It was a snowball effect. It was a very strange turn of events how that took place. I know he's hurt more than anybody and I was hurting for him because I've been in that situation myself."

Slaton carries the load: Rookie Steve Slaton carried the load, leading all rushers with 16 carries for 93 yards. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry and he reached the end zone twice.

"I just wanted to prove that I can play in this league," Slaton said. "I wanted to show everyone that they were wrong to overlook me."

The running back also found a way to move the chains, and his 41-yard run in the third quarter helped set up a 43-yard field goal.

Slaton became the first Texans rookie to rush for two touchdowns in a game since Domanick Williams ran for a pair of scores against Indy in 2003.

To read more about Slaton's performance, click here.

Mario makes a statement: The Texans knew they would have to play big upfront to keep Manning from picking apart a Houston secondary that was starting two backups. The defense was able to do that, thanks to outstanding effort from Mario Williams.

Super Mario sacked Manning twice and recorded three quarterback hits. Manning, who finished with 247 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception, looked uncomfortable in the pocket and never established a rhythm.

For the most part, the Texans' defense got the job done on Sunday. The Colts converted on just three of 12 on third downs and were held to 79 yards rushing.

"We came out fired up and we knew what the task at hand was at the beginning of the game," linebacker Zac Diles said. "They had a good quarterback out there in Peyton Manning. We just wanted to give them different looks. We were able to achieve that early on in the game and the biggest thing is we were playing hard. So, that's the biggest thing."

Diles also turned in a noteworthy performance, notching his first career interception and the second of the season for the Texans. The second-year pro also led the team with nine tackles (six solos).

Quotable: "It felt like a dream," linebacker Morlon Greenwood said. "I'm actually going to try to wake up tomorrow and just hope this didn't happen. But obviously we know that it did. We actually know as a team that we have a long season. We have 12 more games left. We just have to continue to play and play with that same intensity that we came out with for three and three quarters of a quarter."

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