A Capsule Look at Sunday's Colts-Texans Game
COLTS (1-2) vs. TEXANS (0-3)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
Colts – Tony Dungy, seventh season as Colts Head Coach (74-25, 81-30 including playoffs) and 12th season as NFL Head Coach (128-67, 137-76 including playoffs).
Texans – Gary Kubiak, third season as Texans and NFL head coach (14-21).
Colts – 1-2, 3rd in AFC South.
Texans – 0-3, 4th in AFC South.
LAST TIME IN PLAYOFFS
Colts – 2007.
Texans – Never.
2008 NFL RANKINGS
Offense – Overall, 18th (313.0 yards per game); Rushing, 32nd (64.0 ypg); Passing, 6th (249.0 ypg); Defense – Overall, 23rd (340.3 yards per game); Rushing, 31st (199.3 ypg); Passing, 2nd (141.0 ypg).
Offense – Offense – Overall, 19th (312.3 yards per game); Rushing, 22nd (100.0 ypg); Passing, 14th (212.3 ypg); Defense – Overall, 25th (341.0 yards per game); Rushing, 27th (160.0 ypg); Passing, 9th (181.0 ypg).
Colts – Peyton Manning (71-120 completions, 784 yards, 59.2 pct., 3 TD, 4 INT, 73.1 passer rating).
Texans – Matt Schaub (71-110 completions, 697 yards, 64.5 pct., 4 TD, 5 INT, 75.5 passer rating).
Colts – Joseph Addai (43 carries, 142 yards, 3 TD).
Texans – Steve Slaton (41 carries, 192 yards, 1 TD).
Colts – Reggie Wayne (18 receptions, 253 yards, 2 TD); Anthony Gonzalez (16 receptions, 222 yards, 0 TD); Marvin Harrison (13 receptions, 132 yards, 1 TD).
Texans – Andre Johnson (15 receptions, 179 yards, 0 TD), Kevin Walter (15 receptions, 132 yards, 3 TD), Steve Slaton (15 receptions, 97 yards, 1 TD), Owen Daniels (14 receptions, 191 yards, 0 TD).
Colts – Dwight Freeney (2).
Texans – Mario Williams (1).
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?
Colts – The Colts, the five-time defending AFC South champions, lost their regular-season opener, 29-13, to the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium, then rallied from a 15-point, third-quarter deficit to beat the Minnesota Vikings, 18-15, in Week 2. They lost in Week 3, 23-21, to the Jacksonville Jaguars and were off last week.
Texans – The Texans, after a Week 2 bye week because of Hurricane Ike, have lost back-to-back AFC South road games – 31-12 at Tennessee and 30-27 in overtime at Jacksonville – the last two weeks.
QUOTES TO NOTE
"They're going to be pumped up, playing at home for the first time. I know it's been a challenge for them to have to play three games on the road to start the season. It'll be emotional for the fans I think, the first game at home since the Hurricane (Ike). They're a good football team. You can look at the record, but then you can also look at the games and see just what happened in those games. Against Tennessee and Jacksonville, a couple of plays here or there, especially against Jacksonville, they're probably winning those games. They're always tough at home. They were 6-2 at home last year. We had a real close game with them last year down there we were fortunate to win. It'll be a challenge for us and we need to play better."
--- Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning
"My concern really is just how we're playing, not so concerned with getting caught up in the record as trying to figure out a way to play better football. And if we play better football or play like we played last week and then improve upon that then we're going to have our chance to win our games. So we're trying to focus on ourselves."
--- Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak
The Texans, who finished 8-8 last season – the first .500-or-better season in the franchise's six-year history – entered the season selected by many observers to contend for a playoff position. Because of Hurricane Ike, they have played their first three games on the road, starting the season 0-3 for the third time in franchise history.
"It's a strange 0-3," Colts President Bill Polian said. "They had the interruption with Hurricane (Ike), which was a very difficult issue for them and for all of their families. They are also a much-improved football team. . . . Everything sort of falls in line for them – coming home and having the capability of being a contender. There are no two ways about that.
"The personnel is in place. They have good coaching. Their management and coaching is meshed, so they have added people who have really helped them on the personnel front. They're a very difficult opponent."
Wide receiver Andre Johnson, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has 15 receptions this season for 179 yards and Polian said the Texans' offense has been helped by the emergence of rookie running back Steve Slaton.
Slaton, a third-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, this past Sunday against Jacksonville produced 116 yards offense, his second consecutive game with more than 100 total yards. Slaton, who played at West Virginia, has rushed for 192 yards and a touchdown on 41 carries this season.
"They're a very good offensive football team," Polian said. "Steve Slaton is (Tennessee rookie running back) Chris Johnson. He is a home-run hitting sub-4.5, 195-pound running back who if he gets going downhill is gone. He's very different from the two (running backs) at Jacksonville, who are a little bit different style. He represents a big threat."
Defensively, the Texans have a talented, young roster, with end Mario Williams and tackle Abomi Okoye among the league's best young players at their positions and middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans making his first Pro Bowl appearance last season.
Because of Hurricane Ike, the Texans will play four consecutive home games against Indianapolis, Miami, Detroit and Cincinnati. They rescheduled their original home opener – Week 2 against Baltimore – making October 5 the latest home opener for an NFL team since the Detroit Lions held their home opener on October 8, 2001 because of the events of September 11, 2001.
The Texans will become the first NFL team to play four consecutive home games since the 1990 Houston Oilers.
Three key head-to-heads . . .
• Colts middle linebacker Gary Brackett versus Texans running back Steve Slaton. Not a true one-on-one matchup, but how the Colts fare against the Texans' running back likely will be critical Sunday. The Colts rank 31st in the NFL in rushing defense at 199.3 yards per game, and they allowed 236 in a 23-21 Week 3 loss to Jacksonville. That enabled the Jaguars to hold a 41:35-18:25 time-of-possession advantage. Slaton, a rookie third-round selection from the University of West Virginia is third in the NFL among rookie running backs with 96.3 yards total offense per game and he is fourth among NFL rookies in rushing with 64 yards per game. He rushed for 116 yards in his first NFL start – at Tennessee on September 21.
• Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis versus Texans offensive tackles Duane Brown and Eric Winston. Freeney, since returning from a foot injury that kept him out the last seven weeks of last season, has returned to the form that made him a three-time Pro Bowl selection from 2003-2005. He has two sacks this season and has consistently pressured opposing quarterbacks in passing situations. Mathis, the team's sacks leader a year ago, also has a sack. Brown, the Texans' first-round selection in this past April's 2008 NFL Draft, has started his first three games at left tackle and Winston is a third-year veteran who was a third-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft. He has started since midway through his rookie season. The Texans have allowed eight sacks this season.
• Colts running back Joseph Addai versus Texans middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Not a true one-on-one matchup, but although the Colts currently are last in the NFL in rushing, they improved in that area against Jacksonville. Addai, who rushed for 44 yards in the opener against Chicago and 20 in a Week 2 victory over Minnesota, rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries against the Jaguars. Ryans, a third-year veteran, made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season and the Texans rank 27th in the NFL against the run.
TEXANS IN REVIEW
The Texans, because of Hurricane Ike, opened the season with three consecutive road games, losing the first two by wide margins before an overtime loss in Jacksonville this past Sunday.
In the opener, the Texans fell behind Pittsburgh 38-3 in a 38-17 loss, and after a scheduled game against Baltimore was delayed by Hurricane Ike, they lost to Tennessee on the road, 31-12, before losing in overtime to Jacksonville, 30-27, Sunday.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, under outside criticism following the team's two early-season losses, directed touchdown drives of 91, 80 and 85 yards against Jacksonville and did not commit a turnover for the first time this season.
He completed 29 of 40 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, with the Texans outgaining the Jaguars, 386-375. They also had 23 first downs to 21 for the Jaguars and converted 9 of 13 third downs, but after tying the game on the final play of regulation, Houston couldn't stop the Jaguars in overtime.
Jacksonville drove for a field goal on the first possession of the extra period.
Schaub had thrown five interceptions while being sacked eight times in the first two games of the season.
Sunday's game will be played with the Reliant Stadium roof open because of damage caused by Hurricane Ike. The Texans are 12-13 in six seasons with the roof open and won both games with the roof open last season. The Colts and Texans are the only two NFL teams with retractable-roof home stadiums. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is in its first season. The Colts lost to the Chicago Bears in the season-opener with the roof open and lost to Jacksonville two weeks ago with the roof closed.
The Colts and Texans have met 12 times since the Texans' 2002 inception, meeting twice a season as members of the AFC South. The Colts, who lead the series, 11-1, won the first nine meetings between the teams, a streak that was snapped in December 2006 when the Texans beat the Colts, 27-24, at Reliant Stadium in the second-to-last game of the season. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has thrown 29 touchdown passes and four interceptions against Houston and has a passer rating of 120.0 in the series. Wide receiver Marvin Harrison has six 100-yard games against the Texans and wide receiver Reggie Wayne caught 10 passes for 143 yards in the team's last meeting. The Colts beat the Texans, 20-17, in the 2003 regular-season finale to clinch the first of their five consecutive AFC South titles.
The Colts, with nothing at stake in terms of division standings or conference seedings, overcame an early deficit with 38 consecutive points en route to a 38-15 victory over the Texans (7-8) in front of 57,262 at the RCA Dome on December 23, 2007. The Colts, who the week before had clinched a fifth consecutive AFC South title and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, allowed a 76-yard touchdown drive on the game's first possession, but outgained Houston, 458-223, thereafter. The Texans had won four of six games entering the contest. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning completed 28 of 35 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a passer rating of 132.3. The victory was the Colts' sixth in succession after a two-game early-November losing streak.