Against the Baltimore Ravens, the Texans hardly looked like a team that has been miserable against the run this season. They held the Ravens to a total of 73 rushing yards and an average of 3.2 yards per carry. With four games to go, the Texans hope the defense may have turned a critical corner.
"Well, I like the way we played (Sunday) better than I have up until this point in time," coach Dom Capers said. "I think our defensive line
played very well. I think it starts up there. Our guys played aggressive. We attacked blocks, got off blocks better, we played gap-control better and we tackled better."
The defense allowed just 10 points, came up with two fumbles and four sacks. Prior to the Ravens' 67-yard game-winning drive, the Texans had only given up 171 total yards.
The Texans now have 11 sacks in their last two games after collecting just 10 in their first 10 games combined.
"I thought we had a good mix of four or five man rush," Capers said. "And we had some success when we came after them with pressure. That was one the things that influenced the decision to go after them in the two-minute situation. Because Kyle Boller hadn't responded real well when we came after him prior to that."
- WR Jabar Gaffney has a slight ankle sprain but is expected to be healthy enough to play Sunday.
- QB David Carr completed just 17 of 37 passes in the windy conditions of M&T Bank Stadium. It was his lowest completion percentage
since hitting just 42.9 percent of his targets in the season opener at Buffalo.
- Safety C.C. Brown may make his second start of the season at free safety, moving veteran Marcus Coleman to the bench for the first time in his
four seasons with the Texans.
- LB Shantee Orr has four sacks in the last two games. He is the team's sack leader with five.
Heading into this week's AFC South matchup at Jacksonville, the Indianapolis Colts understand what's at stake. A win over the Jaguars would assure the 12-0 Colts of a third straight division title plus give Indianapolis a first-round post-season bye and home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, will bring a 9-3 record into the game and is in the middle of its own battle to qualify for the post-season. The Jaguars have won five in a row coming into this week's game with Indianapolis.
"It doesn't get any bigger," pointed out Colts OG Jake Scott. "It's a big game for both teams."
To a man, they also are quite aware that it's not going to be easy pickings. Jacksonville has played the Colts as tough as anybody over the past two or three seasons, especially at Alltel Stadium. The average margin of victory in the series has been six points and has never exceeded 10 points.
"(Jacksonville) is confident because they have a right to be," Indianapolis OT Tarik Glenn said recently. "It's not like we've dominated the series. Year in and year out, those guys have played as hard and well and we expect to get the best out of them."
- QB Peyton Manning has thrown 23 touchdown passes in his last nine games.
- RB Edgerrin James has carried the football 304 times through the first 12 games of the season. James is averaging 25.3 carries per game.
- WR Marvin Harrison needs six touchdown catches over the Colts' final four games to set a single-season high. He had 15 touchdown catches in 2001 and 2004.
- WR Reggie Wayne is averaging 22.2 yards per catch on his five touchdown catches this season.
- CB Von Hutchins played in his first game last week after being sidelined since training camp with an ankle injury. Hutchins, who had surgery on the ankle in August, had two special teams tackles against the Titans, including a stop of Tennessee CB Pacman Jones who had broke off a 53-yard kickoff return.
The Jaguars can thank former coach Tom Coughlin for leaving behind the core of the team that may end their five-year playoff drought. The Jaguars are 9-3 as they head into Sunday's game against Indianapolis, and they're doing it with 15 of the players Coughlin left when he was fired after the 2002 season. A 16th player, safety Donovin Darius, is a starter, but is on Injured Reserve. Mike Pearson is coming back from knee surgery and has been inactive the last few weeks.
The other 14 players include quarterback David Garrard, who has stepped in to lead the team to a pair of victories after Byron Leftwich was hurt on the first play in Arizona. And most of the others have played key roles.
The Coughlin players include the two defensive tackles who are the heart of the defense, Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. They were Coughlin's last two first round picks. None of the three first round picks the Jaguars have taken since he left -- Leftwich and wide receivers Reggie Williams and Matt Jones, contributed Sunday in the win at Cleveland. Leftwich was hurt and Williams and Jones didn't catch a pass.
Two other defensive linemen from the Coughlin era, Paul Spicer and Rob Meier, have played big roles. Both came back from broken legs and
Spicer leads the team with 7.5 sacks and Meier has five. Starting linebacker Akin Ayodele is the fifth defensive player left
from the Coughlin regime.
The offensive players include wide receiver Jimmy Smith, running back Fred Taylor, tight end Kyle Brady and offensive linemen, Chris Naeole and Brad Meester, punter Chris Hanson and tight end Joe Zelenka.
The Jaguars have made some good additions the last three years, including cornerback Rashean Mathis, middle linebacker Mike Peterson and defensive end Reggie Hayward, but coach Jack Del Rio has had the advantage of working with the nucleus that Coughlin left behind.
- WR Jimmy Smith caught 7 passes for 70 yards in Arizona, but had just three for 39 in Cleveland although one went for a touchdown.
- WR Ernest Wilford dropped two touchdown passes in Cleveland.
- MLB Mike Peterson continues to be a tackling machine as he made 14 tackles and had a sack in Cleveland.
- CB Rashean Mathis broke a finger in Cleveland, but had seven tackles before he departed.
Jeff Fisher is respected around the league as a co-chair of the league's important competition committee. So his complaints about the behavior of the Indianapolis Colts just before halftime of Sunday's game at the RCA Dome won't be taken lightly. They may even result in a rules adjustment.
With 24 seconds left and the Colts ahead 14-3, Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning took a knee, indicating his team would run out the clock and head into the locker room for halftime. But after players, coaches and staff from the Titans sideline started to make their way across the field to the tunnel that leads to the
locker rooms, Manning and the Colts acted as if they were going to run another play, perhaps looking to get a penalty called against the Titans for too many men on the field.
"I thought it was absurd, I thought it was ridiculous," Fisher said. "I don't know what would motivate somebody to do that especially after you come under center, you kneel the ball and you flip the ball to the official and you go towards the sideline. To me, that should fall under the category of unsportsmanlike conduct.
"There is nothing positive to gain from that situation other than pushing and shoving and those kinds of things on the field. I don't understand, (but) they don't need to explain it to me."
- QB Steve McNair is dealing with a shin contusion and a sore ankle both on his left leg after getting knocked around pretty good in
Indianapolis. Jeff Fisher doesn't expect McNair to practice Wednesday, but thinks he should be good to go by Thursday. McNair is 5-2 as a
starter against the Texans.
- RB Chris Brown does not have a 100-yard rushing game through the Titans' first dozen. He had 78 rushing yards in the Titans Oct. 9 win in
- With rookies Brandon Jones (knee) and Roydell Williams (wrist) out for the season, Steve McNair will likely look to
WR Drew Bennett even more than usual. Bennett had season highs of seven catches for 99 yards in
the Titans Oct. 9 win in Houston on Oct. 9.
- DE Travis LaBoy added to his reputation for being soft by failing to dress for the Colts game a week after suffering a hyperextended elbow.