Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 10/3/11
No one wanted to wield the bucket of ice water that would douse the warm afterglow of the Texans' monumental win over the Steelers 24 hours earlier. However, given the probability that Pro-Bowl receiver Andre Johnson (hamstring) will be sidelined for several weeks, it was difficult to ignore on Monday just how slim the Texans' margin of error will become in his absence, and how their avalanche of penalties committed Sunday would prove catastrophic in a future sans their most prolific offensive weapon. "There were way too many of them," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said of the nine penalties committed in that 17-10 victory. "Some of them we feel like were legit that we've got to go correct as coaches and players. We got to get those corrected. Some of them we disagree with. We'll turn those into the league and find out, but the thing I was most proud of is we did have so many that could've hurt us, could've sent us in a negative direction I guess is the way to put it, and we didn't do that. "We kept overcoming them as a football team, overcame them offensively in the first drive. Defensively, you get a roughing the passer at the end. You could sit there and feel sorry for yourself, but we came right back and made the next couple plays to win the game. Too many penalties, but the fact that we stood up to them and still won the football game was impressive." It was easy for Kubiak to adopt that perspective in the aftermath of the Texans (3-1) beating the Steelers (2-2) at their own game. But the fact remains that penalties nullified two returns for touchdowns by Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph. A sackfumble that forced a turnover from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was negated by a Joseph illegal contact penalty. The Texans covered 95 yards on their opening possession, but were forced to overcome two holding calls on tight end Joel Dreessen in the process. Wins mask warts, but without Johnson in the foreseeable future, the Texans need to apply some ointment hastily. That the Texans proved able to overcome their benevolence is a credit to their defensive intensity and resiliency. Their ability to churn along offensively after Johnson departed falls squarely on the shoulders of running back Arian Foster, who delivered a Herculean performance in his return from injury and first extensive action of the regular season. Foster had three times as many carries against the Steelers (30) than he had accumulated this season. He rushed for 155 yards, averaged 5.2 per attempt, and struck the decisive blow with his 42-yard touchdown run with 12:02 remaining in the game. As Foster practiced last week and showed no ill effects from his own balky hamstring, Kubiak pondered easing him back into the mix. The workload was substantially heavier. "Arian has done it before for the team, and coming off an injury and concerned about how many carries he was going to have yesterday, we went into the game thinking between 20 and 25," Kubiak said. "We would've thought that would've been a heck of a first time out. Losing (backup tailback) Ben (Tate) early in the game (to a groin injury), he said I'm fine' and kept going. It was very impressive. He's able to take his work (Monday) at practice. That's what Arian is: the more Arian carries the ball, he seems to play better. (Sunday) it looked like he hadn't missed any time at all. He was good in pass protection. We're going to lean on him whether Andre's out there or not. He's a big part of what we do, so hopefully we've got him healthy for the long haul." But now that Johnson is not there, Foster should prepare to shoulder a disproportionate load. Against the Steelers, Johnson was the lone wide receiver to record a reception. The Texans could enter Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders with a receiver rotation featuring Kevin Walker, Jacoby Jones, Bryant Johnson and David Anderson. Combined that foursome has 12 receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown. Foster gained familiarity with serving as the workhorse back last season, finishing third in the NFL behind Michael Turner (Falcons) and Steven Jackson (Rams) with 327 attempts. But Foster carried the ball 30-plus times in only three games: in the opener while amassing 231 yards against the Colts; on Nov. 28 while rushing for 143 yards against the Titans; and in the finale while posting 180 yards against the Jaguars. The common thread between those contests? The Texans won all three, and if Foster can help fill the void left by Johnson's loss, Kubiak can only hope that what unfolded against the Steelers bodes well for the future. "When we run the football 30, 35 times in a game, we're usually playing pretty good football as a team," Kubiak said. "I like to think we can do that every week. You never know what type of game you're going to play in, but Arian's going to always get his touches somehow some way, and hopefully running the football again like we were yesterday where we have confidence to keep the grind, just keep going." Follow me on Twitter at moisekapenda
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