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Texans' defense braces for matchup against Colts

Houston, which gives up 410.5 yards per game, takes on Peyton Manning and Indianapolis in a meeting of teams tied for first place in the AFC South.

November 01, 2010|By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

They are hoping to do the Texas two-step — the first divisional sweep of the Indianapolis Colts since Tennessee did it in 2002 — but the Houston Texans need to first find their defense.

Although they are tied for first with the Colts in the AFC South at 4-2, the Texans are ranked last in total defense, giving up 410.5 yards per game. They are also last against the pass, a frightening prospect for them heading into a game against Peyton Manning.

Houston's defense called a players-only meeting last week, a move usually reserved for backs-against-the-wall situations.

"We're getting slapped in the face right now," Texans safety Bernard Pollard told the Houston Chronicle. "We have to find some way to punch back. It's time for us to actually step up and actually do something about it. We have the talent. We have to be able to be the backbone of this team."

The Texans can take some solace in the severe depletion of Manning's arsenal of receivers. The Colts are without Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark, out for the season because of a wrist injury, and receiver Austin Collie (thumb). Both caught touchdown passes in the Colts' 34-24 loss at Houston in Week 1.

The Colts pride themselves on their "next man up" philosophy of plugging in replacements without a hitch. That means rookie receiver Blair White and lightly experienced tight end Jacob Tamme will be expected to help pick up the slack.

Indianapolis, which has won the division title six times since the AFC South was created in 2002, desperately needs to win this game after losing its first two division matchups.

Since 2000, the Colts are 6-0 at home on "Monday Night Football," and they have beaten the Texans in 15 of 17 all-time matchups.

Still, each season is a new one, as Houston proved in the opener — a game it won without star linebacker Brian Cushing.

In that game, Arian Foster rushed for a club-record 231 yards and scored three touchdowns.

"We know what kind of game plan we have to put together," said Foster, the league's fourth-leading rusher. "But the execution is going to be different, because the atmosphere of the game is going to be different. It's a whole different animal."

sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesfarmer

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