Texans improve, look for consistent play
Houston allowed 21 points and almost 300 yards in the first half of a loss to Arizona last weekend. The Texans turned it around after halftime, giving up just 43 yards and holding the Cardinals scoreless. Now the question is which defense will show up Sunday against the Bengals. "I can see how people could be confused," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "But it's our job to take that confusion away. It's our job to be consistent in everything we do." It was the second straight week the Texans held a team scoreless in the second half. Arizona's only second half touchdown came on an interception return that allowed the Cardinals to hold on for the 28-21 win. Coach Gary Kubiak called the second half performance dominant and wouldn't mind seeing something like that again. He'd settle for solid play throughout a game though. "You don't hold somebody to 43 yards in this league, that's incredible," he said. "But you can go through a game and play good for four quarters and contain somebody instead of having the spurts that we've had." Everyone had different ideas about why the defense played so well after halftime following such a bad start. The players came up with things like paying more attention to detail and wanting to make up for the poor first half. As for how to correct it, they had one easy answer: start faster. "If we can get a better start, we'll be fine," cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "We've got to focus on starting better because it's hard to dig yourself out of a hole in this league. Whatever it is that is causing us to start slow, we've got to figure it out and make sure it doesn't keep happening." Houston was able to hold the pass-happy Cardinals to just 44 yards rushing, but remain among the league's worst in defending the run. The Texans have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of their five games, including 197 yards by Tennessee's Chris Johnson. Now they'll face the NFL's leading rusher in Cedric Benson, who has 487 yards rushing this season. "He's a fine player and as you can see he's hungry right now," Kubiak said. "We're very impressed and know that stopping them starts with stopping him right now." Linebacker DeMeco Ryans knows they'll have to be at their best to deal with Benson. "It's like he's got a new spark, a new light," he said. "He's running with a lot more aggressiveness and he's doing a lot better job than he's done in the past." On offense, the line took another hit Wednesday when right guard Mike Brisiel was placed on the injured reserve after surgery on his left foot. Houston was already playing without left guard Chester Pitts, who suffered a season-ending injury earlier this season. Antoine Caldwell, a rookie out of Alabama who hasn't played this season, is set to start in Brisiel's place against the Bengals.