Texans Doing It With Defense

After three games, the Texans stood 1-2 and their defense ranked last, including last against the run. Under first-year defensive coordinator Frank Bush, the Texans were on a pace to allow more yards and more yards rushing than any defense in NFL history.

Three games into the season, the Texans allowed 205 yards a game rushing. After six games, that average has dropped to 125. In their last three games against Oakland, Arizona and Cincinnati, the Texans have allowed 45, 44 and 46 yards rushing. That's the fewest three-game total in team history.

Playing that kind of run defense against Oakland (45 yards) and Arizona (44) is one thing, but doing it against Cincinnati (46) and Cedric Benson is something else.

The Texans went to Cincinnati trying to stop Benson, who entered the game as the NFL's leading rusher. Benson carried 16 times for 44 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown, his longest run of the game.

The Texans' defense was so good against the Bengals that Cincinnati had only 6 yards on nine plays in the third quarter.

Going into the game, the Texans' defense had a league-best 22 three-and-outs. It added five more against the Bengals.

There are several reasons for the defensive improvement, and it comes when the team has only six sacks in six games.

Outside linebacker Brian Cushing, who forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass against Cincinnati, is getting better every week after missing four preseason games because of a knee injury. He brings intensity and toughness against the run.

Cornerback Dunta Robinson is getting better every week after missing the offseason program, training camp and preseason because of a contract dispute. He plays the run as well as any corner in the league.

Cornerback Jacques Reeves has only played in the last two games because of injuries.

Strong safety Bernard Pollard was signed off the street, placed in the lineup 10 days later and has led the team in tackles in two of his three starts. He's a big hitter who plays the run well.

More important, the players are finally adjusting to Bush, new assistant head coach/defensive line Bill Kollar and secondary coach David Gibbs.

Because of injuries, the Texans have two guards -- Kasey Studdard on the left side and Chris White on the right -- starting for the first time. Studdard was a sixth-round pick. White, a five-year veteran, was a street free agent when the Texans signed him. He made his first start in the 28-17 victory at Cincinnati. The Texans couldn't run effectively before they were inserted into the lineup, and they haven't run well since. Steve Slaton averages 3 yards a carry on 91 carries. However, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan isn't abandoning Slaton. He's being used more in the passing game. At Cincinnati, Slaton had six catches for 102 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown on a quick screen. Through six games, Slaton has 23 receptions for 282 yards (12.3 average) and two touchdowns. His 12.3-yard average is third on the team for players with at least 10 catches.

BY THE NUMBERS: 472 -- Yards generated against the Bengals, the Texans' third-most ever.

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