4:15 PM ET, September 18, 2011
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL
Even without Arian Foster, Houston made a major statement to the two-time defending AFC South champions in its season opener. With the possible return of the league's reigning rushing leader, the Texans could become even more of a threat in Week 2.
That's bad news for a Miami Dolphins team trying to rebound from one of the worst defensive performances in franchise history.
Houston looks to snap a six-game road losing streak and stay unbeaten against Miami on Sunday when the Dolphins try to end their woes at home.
Still looking for their first playoff berth, the Texans opened their 10th season last Sunday with a convincing 34-7 victory over Indianapolis. With the Colts missing Peyton Manning, Houston piled up 259 yards while running out to a 34-0 halftime lead.
"That's the best half of football we have probably played as a team," coach Gary Kubiak said. "It was explosive in every area, offense, defense, special teams. We have to be that way."
The running game has a chance to become even more of a weapon if Foster returns. The third-year back, who ran for 1,616 yards and a league-best 16 touchdowns last year, practiced Wednesday for the first time since he aggravated a left hamstring injury Aug. 27.
"If he can play, you play (him)," Kubiak told the Texans' official website. "... If he's ready to go, he puts us at our best and he'll be out there."
If Foster can't go, that likely means more touches for Ben Tate, who ran for 116 yards and a TD in his NFL debut last Sunday. Derrick Ward (39 yards) also found the end zone, but he is day-to-day after spraining his right ankle.
It's uncertain if wide receiver Kevin Walter (bruised right collarbone) will be available Sunday, but quarterback Matt Schaub, who completed 17 of 24 passes for 220 yards with a TD and two interceptions against the Colts, still has Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones as deep threats.
Johnson caught seven passes for 95 yards and a TD, while Jones had three receptions for 43 yards and returned a punt 79 yards for a score.
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano knows his team will have to improve on the defensive side to match up against Houston. It will be hard for the Dolphins' defense to be much worse after allowing a franchise-high 622 yards in Monday's 38-24 home loss to New England.
Miami has dropped five straight and 10 of 11 at home.
"As I said to them last night in the locker room, the clock runs and Houston has a jump on us right now," Sparano told the Dolphins' official website Tuesday. "But we do have to see the corrections, make no mistake about that. We just can't dismiss giving up that many yards out there."
Miami, though, gained 488 yards -- the team's third-highest total in 21 years -- in Brian Daboll's first game as offensive coordinator.
"We did some good things," said Chad Henne, who completed 30 of 49 passes for a career-high 416 yards with two TDs and ran for a team-best 59 yards and a score. "We have to watch the tape, see what we can correct and get better at. The best thing about this is the team's not quitting."
The Texans could receive a heavy dose of Reggie Bush, who caught nine passes for 56 yards and a TD and rushed 11 times for 38 yards Monday. The 20 touches were his most since 2008.
Bush will face a Houston defense that held Indianapolis to 236 yards -- 64 on the ground.
Playing under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme, the Texans recorded three sacks -- two by Mario Williams in his first start at outside linebacker.
"I think the most important thing is we went out, executed on defense, played well on offense and we're 1-0," linebacker Brian Cushing said.
Houston, which lost its final six road games in 2010, improved to 5-0 in this matchup with a 27-20 victory in Miami on Dec. 27, 2009.
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|Avg Points Allowed||10.0||30.5|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||HOU|
|Rush Yds Allowed||HOU|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Houston leads 6-0|
|Dec 27, 2009||HOU 27, @MIA 20|
|Oct 12, 2008||HOU 29, MIA 28|
|Oct 7, 2007||HOU 22, MIA 19|
|Oct 1, 2006||HOU 17, MIA 15|
|Sep 7, 2003||HOU 21, @MIA 20|