The physical nature of the Texans on both sides of the ball becomes more apparent with each passing week.
The latest example came Sunday, when the Texans manhandled the Cleveland Browns 30-12 in front of a sellout crowd of 71,511 at Reliant Stadium. Houston outgained its opponent 380-172 and won the time of possession battle by more than 10 minutes.
The Texans led 14-0 midway through the first quarter following rushing touchdowns by running back Ben Tate and quarterback Matt Schaub, and the team never trailed in the game.
"We started very fast, both sides of the ball," coach Gary Kubiak said. "The key to the game is we controlled the line of scrimmage…We did a good job executing our plan in all three phases."
The victory is the Texans' third in a row and moves the team's record to 6-3, making it the first time in franchise history that Houston is three games above .500. The Texans also remain atop the AFC South with seven games left in the regular season.
"I'm excited," Kubiak said. "We've been working really hard around this place to get ourselves in this type of position. It's still very early, but it's exciting for the franchise, the coaches, the players."
It was the third consecutive week that Houston held the opposing offense to less than 175 net yards. The Texans also forced a pair of turnovers and collected four sacks, including a pair from rookie outside linebacker Brooks Reed.
Linebacker Brian Cushing again led the Texans with seven combined tackles, one sack and a quarterback hurry. At the end of the first half, blood streamed down his nose after safety Quintin Demps' interception return. That was the only thing that could get Cushing, a newly minted team captain, off the field.
"I just love football," Cushing said. "That's the bottom line. I'm going to play full speed, 100 percent every time.
"I think it's the kind of attitude our defense and whole team's taken on. We don't take this for granted. We got a special opportunity. We're just trying to seize it."
The two-headed monster of running backs Arian Foster and Tate never has looked better, as the offense rushed for a club-record 261 yards and both players surpassed the 100-yard mark. Facing his former team, fullback Lawrence Vickers commented on the Texans' running back duo.
"Excellent," he said. "I'm getting comfortable with them and they're getting comfortable with me. We're saying the same thing: We haven't even hit our stride yet. We continue to focus on the little things."
Foster sees even bigger things ahead for the run game.
"We get 80 (Andre Johnson) back soon," he said. "That's scary."
Carrying a 24-3 halftime lead, the Texans used their run game to grind out the clock in the second half. Schaub attempted only eight passes in the final two quarters as he handed off 25 times. Kicker Neil Rackers booted a pair of field goals in the final 30 minutes, including a 50-yarder in the fourth quarter that gave the Texans a 30-6 lead.
Schaub didn't have the prettiest game statistically with an interception and no touchdown passes, but he completed 61 percent of his throws and helped the offense convert 64 percent of its third down tries. More importantly, he left the game unscathed without being sacked and he took only three hits.
"It was one of those games where our offensive line just controlled the line of scrimmage," Schaub said. "We knew we had a chance to run the football well against this team and we were able to do it. It took a lot of pressure off the pass game."
The Texans face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10 at Raymond James Stadium before the bye week, and Schaub is being careful not to get carried away with the team's success.
"It's big for us to be 6-3, but like we said last week at 5-3, you don't win anything at the halfway point," Schaub said. "We just got to keep going, keep stringing back-to-back wins and when we get to the end in December, we'll like where we'll be. But we just got to put our head down and go find another win."