Texans Missing in Short Yardage

In the offseason, the Texans were looking for a running back to come off the bench and play behind Steve Slaton, who excelled as a rookie when he rushed for 1,282 yards, averaged 4.8 per carry and scored nine touchdowns. Slaton had 1,659 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns.

The idea was to give another back 10 to 12 touches a game. The coaches wanted a back larger than Slaton, one who could move the chains in goal-line and short-yardage situations.

Coach Gary Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith targeted Cincinnati free agent Cedric Benson, a native Texan who played at the University of Texas. Benson, who had overcome some off-field issues, visited the Texans, and they offered him $2 million a year -- a lot of money for a backup.

Benson was interested in signing with the Texans, but then the Bengals came in and doubled the offer, giving him a chance to return as a starter.

Five games into the season, it's obvious Benson made the right decision. The Bengals are 4-1 going into their home game against the Texans, who are 2-3 after losing 28-21 at Arizona.

The Bengals have pulled out three consecutive last-minute victories, including Sunday at Baltimore. Benson became the first back in 40 games to reach triple digits against the Ravens. He finished with 120 yards on 27 carries.

While Benson was chewing up the Ravens, Slaton was limited to 39 yards on 13 carries against the Cardinals. Slaton has been unable to get untracked this season. He has 72 carries for 231 yards.

When the Texans failed to get Benson, they went to Plan B -- veteran Chris Brown. At 6-foot-3 and 237 pounds, Brown has the size the coaches wanted. But he also had a history of injuries, including spending his first season with the Texans on injured reserve.

Against the Cardinals, the Texans fell behind 21-0 in the first half, rallied to tie the score 21-21 in the fourth quarter, fell behind 28-21 and then had second-and-goal one-half yard from the goal line. Brown failed to get the tying touchdown on two tries.

When the Texans play the Bengals, the coaches may be wondering what if they had been able to sign Benson. And Benson should be thanking the Bengals for upping their offer and keeping him in Cincinnati.

TRENDING: The Texans continue to stink at running the ball. In the 28-21 loss at Arizona, they ran 21 times for 45 yards, a 2.1-yard average. Matt Schaub threw a career-high 50 times and completed a career-high 35 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns. Coach Gary Kubiak said afterward that if the running game continues to flounder, they may just open up the offense and forget about trying to have a balance. Kubiak wants a 50-50 balance, but they haven't come close. Schaub, who threw one interception against Arizona -- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned it 42 yards for the winning touchdown. Schaub wasn't sacked. Schaub is still the best thing the Texans have going, and with his plethora of receivers, it might be smarter to throw it all over the place rather than continue to try and fail with the running game.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- Touchdown passes by QB Matt Schaub, equaling his total from last season.

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