Texans make bold opening statement

MIKE RUTSEY, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:02 AM ET

In Houston, a star is born.

His name is Arian Foster and in a crucial game for the franchise and its quest to dislodge a giant monkey from its back, the running back rushed for three touchdowns and a franchise high 231 yards.

The Texans had been talking about how they believed they had the horses to make it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, but first up was a game against their hated division rival, the Indy Colts.

Itís foolish to place a whole lot of importance on the results of the first game of the season but, for the Texans, their totally convincing 34-24 victory over Peyton Manning and company was meaningful, indeed.

The Texans came into the game 1-15 in their history against the Colts and had lost the past six contest, twice losing by blowing 17-point leads the last two times they played in Houston.

But Sunday they were able to seal the deal thanks to Foster and an offensive line that shredded the Colts defence.

Just who is Foster?

Well, heís an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee who last season rushed for 216 and three touchdowns in the final two games of the season.

At the start of training camp, Foster was thought to be a capable backup to rookie Ben Tate (Auburn), who the Texans drafted in the second round. They also were counting on a bounce back season for Steve Slaton who was so sensational in 2008 but last year ran into injury troubles and also had problems hanging on to the ball. This year, he also had turf-toe issues.

Tate, meanwhile, suffered an ankle injury in the first pre-season game which opened the door for Foster and he rolled on through as he won a starting spot by being Houstonís best back in pre-season when he rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

Now this.

The victory will give tremendous confidence to the Texans, who next Sunday travel to Washington.

Itís too early to write off the Colts but in the second half they looked less than ordinary defensively as the Texans pushed them up and down the field.

And they had no answer for Foster, who seemingly ran at will.

The two teams meet again Nov. 1, Week 8, in Indy.

QUICK HITS

In his first game back after playing in two games last year and eight in the past two seasons, Colts safety Bob Sanders suffered an elbow injury in the first quarter that kept him out of the rest of the game ... Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons become the first tight end in NFL history to have 1,000 receptions by catching a 20-yard pass from Matt Ryan in the third quarter against Pittsburgh. Gonzalez, who played 12 seasons with Kansas City before joining the Falcons last season, is the seventh receiver to make at least 1,000 catches ... In the loss to Houston, Colts QB Manning completed 40 of 57 passes for 433 yards and three touchdowns. It was Manningís 193rd consecutive start ... In Chicago, the Bears have high hopes for QB Jay Cutler as he is under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Mike Martz ó he of the Rams and the Greatest Show On Turf fame. In their debut together Cutler was 23-for-35 for 372 yards, two TDs and one interception.

mike.rutsey@sunmedia.ca


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