Texans' solid run defense focused on Peterson

The Texans have the fifth-ranked run defense in the NFL for a reason – they focus, with great success, on limiting a running game and have stopped some impressive runners so far. We look at the numbers and get reaction from head coach Gary Kubiak.

With all of the focus being centered on Adrian Peterson and his assault of the all-time NFL single-season rushing record, the Houston Texans may be the absolute worst opponent he could face. Armed with one of the strongest defenses in the league, the Texans have done their job the old-fashioned way – stopping the run consistently.

Through 14 games, opponents have run just 315 times against the Texans – an average of just 22.5 carries a game – and have run for just three touchdowns. To put that in perspective, the Houston offense is averaging 34 carries a game and have 18 rushing TDs. The Texans have been so impressive at stopping the run that teams have often abandoned even trying. While the Vikings won't abandon the run because Peterson has become their big-play threat and has proved more likely to break off a long run than Christian Ponder is likely to complete a long bomb, the yards will be hard to come by.

What makes the Texans run defense so good?

"Just consistency. I think the other thing offensively we've been able to stay on the field this year possession-wise," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "If you can control the football, you're keeping your defense off the field. I think those two things kind of go hand in hand. It's funny. There are different people you play in this league. You may go a month where people spread you out and try to throw it on you and playing those type of teams and all the sudden you line up and play a running football team. This is a big switch for us from what we've kind of been seeing the past month defensively. It's something we're going to have to be able to handle."

Defenses enter every week of practice with a set of goals. One of the first is to stop the featured back of the opponent that week. While Peterson is clearly the best the Texans have faced, they haven't earned their distinction as a run-stopping defense by luck or by fluke. When focused on stopping featured backs, nobody has been as consistently good as the Texans and the numbers back that up.

Here is a list of the week-to-week leading rushers against the Texans defense and how those running backs have fared:

Week 1 – Reggie Bush 14-69-0

Week 2 – Maurice Jones-Drew 12-60-0

Week 3 – Willis McGahee 12-36-0

Week 4 – Chris Johnson 25-141-0

Week 5 – Shonn Greene 8-26-0

Week 6 – Alex Green 22-65-0

Week 7 – Ray Rice 9-42-0

Week 9 – C.J. Spiller 6-39-0

Week 10 – Matt Forte 18-39-0

Week 11 – Jalen Parmele 24-80-0

Week 12 – Mikel Leshoure 12-32-1

Week 13 – Chris Johnson 13-51-0

Week 14 – Stevan Ridley 18-72-1

Week 15 – Vick Ballard 18-105-0

The reason the Texans have been so consistent is that they don't allow big plays on the ground. In the last seven games, Peterson has had at least one carry of more than 50 yards in six of them, including touchdown runs of 61, 64, 82 and 82 yards. But the Texans haven't experienced that all season. In 315 opponent carries, they haven't allowed a run or more than 28 yards.

If Peterson is to set the new single-season rushing record, he will need to average 147 yards a game in their final two games. Of the 14 featured backs the Texans have faced, only two of them have topped 100 yards. They know how to stop the run and have forced several teams to abandon the run – not because they're hopelessly behind, but because they just can't find the yardage needed to put the offense in a good down-and-distance position.

"What he's done coming off this surgery, in coming back as a running back, and doing it on turf? I mean, just you put all those things together and I don't think we've seen anything like this," Kubiak said. "But that just shows you his worth ethic, shows you what he stands for, and I think everybody has known that. Very, very special what people are watching right now."

One thing appears clear – the Vikings aren't going to stop running Peterson and the Texans aren't going to stop fighting to limit him. With this case of strength vs. strength, something will have to give. As Peterson makes his return to his home state of Texas, he does so knowing that all 11 players on the Texans defense will be geared up to stop him. If he is to break Eric Dickerson's single-season record, he is going to have to earn it, because many have tried against the Texans and, for the most part, most have failed.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" With all of the focus being centered on Adrian Peterson and his assault of the all-time NFL single-season rushing record, the Houston Texans may be the absolute worst opponent he could face. Armed with one of the strongest defenses in the league, the Texans have done their job the old-fashioned way – stopping the run consistently. Through 14 games, opponents have run just 315 times against the Texans – an average of just 22.5 carries a game – and have run for just three touchdowns. To put that in perspective, the Houston offense is averaging 34 carries a game and have 18 rushing TDs. The Texans have been so impressive at stopping the run that teams have often abandoned even trying. While the Vikings won't abandon the run because Peterson has become their big-play threat and has proved more likely to break off a long run than Christian Ponder is likely to complete a long bomb, the yards will be hard to come by. What makes the Texans run defense so good? \"Just consistency. I think the other thing offensively we've been able to stay on the field this year possession-wise,\" Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. \"If you can control the football, you're keeping your defense off the field. I think those two things kind of go hand in hand. It's funny. There are different people you play in this league. You may go a month where people spread you out and try to throw it on you and playing those type of teams and all the sudden you line up and play a running football team. This is a big switch for us from what we've kind of been seeing the past month defensively. It's something we're going to have to be able to handle.\" Defenses enter every week of practice with a set of goals. One of the first is to stop the featured back of the opponent that week. While Peterson is clearly the best the Texans have faced, they haven't earned their distinction as a run-stopping defense by luck or by fluke. When focused on stopping featured backs, nobody has been as consistently good as the Texans and the numbers back that up. Here is a list of the week-to-week leading rushers against the Texans defense and how those running backs have fared: Reggie Bush 14-69-0 Maurice Jones-Drew 12-60-0 Willis McGahee 12-36-0 Chris Johnson 25-141-0 Shonn Greene 8-26-0 Alex Green 22-65-0 Ray Rice 9-42-0 C.J. Spiller 6-39-0 Matt Forte 18-39-0 Jalen Parmele 24-80-0 Mikel Leshoure 12-32-1 Chris Johnson 13-51-0 Stevan Ridley 18-72-1 Vick Ballard 18-105-0 The reason the Texans have been so consistent is that they don't allow big plays on the ground. In the last seven games, Peterson has had at least one carry of more than 50 yards in six of them, including touchdown runs of 61, 64, 82 and 82 yards. But the Texans haven't experienced that all season. In 315 opponent carries, they haven't allowed a run or more than 28 yards. If Peterson is to set the new single-season rushing record, he will need to average 147 yards a game in their final two games. Of the 14 featured backs the Texans have faced, only two of them have topped 100 yards. They know how to stop the run and have forced several teams to abandon the run – not because they're hopelessly behind, but because they just can't find the yardage needed to put the offense in a good down-and-distance position. \"What he's done coming off this surgery, in coming back as a running back, and doing it on turf? I mean, just you put all those things together and I don't think we've seen anything like this,\" Kubiak said. \"But that just shows you his worth ethic, shows you what he stands for, and I think everybody has known that. Very, very special what people are watching right now.\" One thing appears clear – the Vikings aren't going to stop running Peterson and the Texans aren't going to stop fighting to limit him. With this case of strength vs. strength, something will have to give. As Peterson makes his return to his home state of Texas, he does so knowing that all 11 players on the Texans defense will be geared up to stop him. If he is to break Eric Dickerson's single-season record, he is going to have to earn it, because many have tried against the Texans and, for the most part, most have failed. 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