When your starting quarterback and your backup quarterback go down for the season, something's got to give, right? For the Houston Texans, a team who has leaned on their sound running game in recent years, has had to do so even more with the injury bug derailing their proficient aerial attack. T.J. Yates efforts as a rookie have already exceeded expectations, but the running prowess of Arian Foster and Ben Tate have pushed the Texans to being a game away from playing for the AFC Championship next week.
Up next though, is arguably the best rushing defense in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens. As Steve Campbell says of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans will be "banging their helmets against a brick wall."
Strength, meet strength. The Texans tied for the league lead in rushing attempts (34.1 per game) and finished second in yards on the ground (153.0). The Ravens finished among the top three in points allowed (16.6 per game) for an NFL-record fourth consecutive season, ranked third in total defense (288.9 yards per game), and finished second in rushing yards allowed (92.6) and average gain per carry (3.5). They have limited opponents to under 4 yards per carry an NFL-record 16 consecutive seasons, and four Ravens earned Pro Bowl honors in 2011 (linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and safety Ed Reed).
If the Texans can figure out a way to successfully run on the Ravens, then who knows how far this team could possibly go.