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Texans embracing buildup for this weekend

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Running back Ron Dayne, who rushed for 153 yards against the Colts last year, is looking to carry the Texans' momentum into Sunday's game against Indy.

They'll need backbone, a strong one of course.

The Texans are playing the World Champion Indianapolis Colts on Deep Steel Sunday and it couldn't be a bigger game. Both teams are 2-0 and Houston is the last team on the planet to defeat the Colts, a 27-24 victory in the 15th game of last season.

And to add to the drama, star Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson could miss the game with a sprained left knee.

So backbone will definitely be needed. Or something very much like it.

"I talked to him," rookie Jacoby Jones said of Johnson. "I checked on him the next day when I asked him how his knee was doing. He was like, 'You've got to step up.' That's all he told me, basically.

"I'm going to show him I've got his back like a spinal cord, so I can help him out."

Spinal cord? That's right.

"Like a spinal cord," Jones repeated. "You need a spinal cord to have a back."

That's a little more clinical than perhaps the Texans need to be. But it's the thought that counts and make no mistake, the guys have Johnson's spinal cord. From the fresh-faced rookies to the long-in-the-tooth veterans, they know they will need plenty of spinal cord for this game.

This is a special week, the likes of which have never been seen before in this franchise.

For one thing, they are playing a truly meaningful game. Admittedly, it is early and the world won't grind to a halt for either team regardless of the outcome.

But the Texans never have been 2-0, they never have had a four-game winning streak (dating back to last season), they never have had this much national attention and – ohmigosh – they never have been in the position of having beaten the Colts the last time they played. That was their first-ever win over Indy last Christmas Eve.

"I tell you what, we're pretty fired up," veteran center Steve McKinney, a former Colt himself, said. "This is exciting – to be 2-0 and playing the world champs here at our place. I don't think you could've had it set up any better than the way it is, so we're definitely excited.

"We're looking forward to this week of practice and getting out there and getting after it, man, feeling good going into Sunday."

Cornerback Dunta Robinson feels the special quality of this game as much as anyone.

"They haven't lost since we beat them and the other way around," Robinson said. "It's going to be a good game.

"It's my first time (to be in a big game like this). It's a great feeling for players who think they should be out there – this will be your big chance to put your name out there and to get your team out there. It's going to be a great atmosphere and it's going to be a lot of fun."

Never mind that the Colts rolled onto the Super Bowl title last year. If anything, that should get the blood pumping more.

"That's what you play for." wide receiver Andre' Davis said. "When you have the Super Bowl champ coming into town, it makes everybody tighten up just a little bit more just because you want to be more focused, because you have something to prove.

"Everybody's chasing after them. Everybody wants what they have and right now we're not there yet. We're just 2-0. We're not in the Super Bowl, we're not in the playoffs or anything. Our goal after this game is to be 3-0 and that's the only thing we're thinking about."

{QUOTE}McKinney agreed.

"I think the fact that we beat them last year gives you that little bit of confidence knowing that you can beat them," McKinney said. "I mean, they had had our number nine straight games, so you finally get that monkey off your back and now we can go and prepare for this game, knowing that we've already done it and knowing what it took to do it. So we'll prepare with that in mind."

Of course, that loss likely will have the Colts fired up a little more as well. But the Texans don't mind.

"Not really," running back Ron Dayne said. "They won the Super Bowl after we beat them, so it didn't really matter to them that we beat them. But it was a big thing for us, so we've just got to build off of what we've been doing this year."

The Texans know it certainly won't be easy. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is perhaps the league's best at reading defenses, making audibles and picking apart a secondary.

"He's a winner," defensive end Anthony Weaver said. "He's a guy that's won in every level he's played the game. He's a guy that doesn't get sacked a lot, so when we do get back there, we've got to try to hit him.

"He's just one of those guys that you've got to be persistent, because you might beat your guy two or three times and the ball's gone, but that one time when you do beat him, he might be holding onto it and you've got to take advantage of it."

The Texans know Manning can pick apart a defense a little at a time or with the big play.

"I think the biggest thing for us is just not making mistakes," Robinson said. "Even when he identifies what you're in, you still have to play that defense. We just can't make mistakes. That's where a lot of teams get hurt. They give up a lot of big plays to them. We have to stand our ground and make it a 12-round fight."

And the defense realizes it will need to be just that much better to help the under-manned offense.

"Definitely," Weaver said. "You can't replace Andre Johnson. He's one in a million. And the thing about it now, everybody has to pick up their game, and I plan on seeing that happen.

"When a guy like that goes down it presents an opportunity for somebody else to go out there and make big plays and hopefully somebody can come out there and go do that."

So let the showdown begin. The Texans can't wait.

"It's a great feeling to be 2-0," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "To get our first two and win a big game on the road against a tremendous opponent. We're definitely excited about the opportunity and the challenge that we're going to face this week with the Colts coming in.

"They're obviously the defending Super Bowl champions and a great team. We just have to prepare and be on the top of our game."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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