In Game 1 of the 2011 season, they took full advantage of the absence of Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning by demolishing the Colts 34-7, possibly previewing a shift in the balance of power in the AFC South division. The Colts, who have dominated the division since its inception, looked nothing like that team, as new Indy QB Kerry Collins could not come close to replicating Manning’s stats. Manning is out recovering from his third neck surgery in 19 months, ending his consecutive start streak, including playoff starts, at 227.
For Houston, QB Matt Schaub went for 220 yards and 1 TD, while RB Ben Tate, who replaced starting RB Arian Foster, ran for 116 yards on 24 carries and scored a TD. Perhaps the biggest story for the was the 3-4 defense instituted by new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The Colts only managed 236 yards and 15 first downs against Houston’s defense. Plus, Collins fumbled twice on consecutive snaps and was sacked three times.
Despite 2010 NFL rushing leader Foster not playing, Houston cruised to a commanding 34-0 halftime lead against the Colts. Tate, a 2nd-round pick from 2010 who missed all of last season with a broken ankle, more than picked up the slack in his absence. RB Derrick Ward also added a touchdown before he left late in the game due to an ankle injury.
Houston coach Gary Kubiak claimed that the first half of this game was probably the best that they have played as a team. Recapping how explosive the team was in every aspect of the game, from the offense to the defense to the special teams.
The game started on a positive note for Houston when OLB Mario Williams sacked Collins for a 9-yard loss on Indianapolis’ fourth snap of the game. Williams has led the team in sacks for the past five seasons. However, this was Williams’ first start at outside linebacker, a change implemented by Phillips this past off-season. In addition to their offensive woes, Indianapolis’ defense also struggled mightily, giving up 259 yards and 19 first downs in the first half alone.
Houston kicker Neil Rackers hit a 25-yard field goal on Houston’s second series; then, the rout began. Collins fumbled the football when he was hit by DE Antonio Smith, which was picked up by NT Shaun Cody at the Colts’ 12. Ward scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run to make it 10-0 Houston.
On the very next snap in the following series, Collins dropped the snap from Indy C Jeff Saturday, which was recovered by Houston DE J.J. Watt. Tate followed that up by heading into the end zone for the Texans’ 2nd TD off of an Indy turnover and a 17-0 lead with 1:41 left in the first quarter. Schaub continued the onslaught with a TD pass to WR Andre Johnson, making it 24-0 Houston. Johnson had a strong day with 7 catches for 95 yards. After Indy went three-and-out on its next possession, Tate and Ward combined to move downfield before Rackers converted a 29-yard field goal to extend Houston’s lead to 27-0.
Adding to the lead, WR Jacoby Jones took a punt with just over a minute left in the second quarter and ran past the Colts down the sideline to the end zone for a 79-yard punt return, making it 34-0.
The only positive sign for Indianapolis’ offense was thanks to a Tate fumble with roughly 10 minutes left in the game. The Colts recovered, then Collins threw a 6-yard TD pass to WR Reggie Wayne, making the final score 34-7 Texans.
The Texans beat the Colts in Week 1 for the second straight year, once again making it a 1-0 start and the Colts 0-1. Houston’s next game is in Miami on Sunday to take on the 0-1 Dolphins. Game time is 3:15 P.M. CDT. The next week they return home to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Oct. 2 so get your Texans tickets now!