The Texans knew they had to stop the run against Washington.
And aside from a pair of Adrian Peterson touchdowns, they did.
In the Texans 23-21 victory at FedExField, Peterson managed just 51 yards on 16 carries, a stark contrast from his rushing averages in the previous six Redskins wins, which were 22 carries for 105 yards per. In the four Washington losses, Peterson has gone for 2.2 yards per carry, with just 86 total yards in those defeats.
"If they established the run, it was going to be a long day," linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. "We knew we had to get them into third-and-long situations, and third-and-medium situations."
Mercilus finished with three tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss in the victory, and explained the Texans' defensive approach to the future Pro Football Hall of Famer in Peterson.
"We knew coming into this game, just set the edge and build a wall," Mercilus said. "Make he doesn't break off a good play."
Running backs Kapri Bibbs and Byron Marshall, and receiver Trey Quinn combined to run the ball four times for five yards. Quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy scrambled a combined nine times for 68 yards.
"I think the whole defense played really hard," head coach Bill O'Brien said.
Jadeveon Clowney, who had two tackles for loss, a sack, and five tackles, also described how the defense planned to key in on Peterson.
"We just said 'I think they're going to try to hand off to A.P. a little bit more than they did,'" Clowney said. "So we were like, let's just try to stop A.P. and try to get after him and try to win this game."
In limiting Peterson, the Texans also held the Redskins to just 278 total yards of offense.
Houston will host the Titans a week from Monday night at NRG Stadium.