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Texans Looking Like Franchise On The Brink Of Taking Next Step

By TERRANCE HARRIS, SportsRadio 610
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Texans linebacker Brian Cushing celebrates after stopping the run. (credit: Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

Texans linebacker Brian Cushing celebrates after stopping the run. (credit: Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

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You know things are right when Texans coach Gary Kubiak finally wins a replay challenge.

It just seemed Sunday the Texans could do little wrong and managed to get almost everything right during their 30-12 win over the Cleveland Browns at Reliant Stadium.  The victory is tempered some by the struggling franchise the Texans overwhelmed, but we are still talking about a team building a winning reputation. As wins go, Sunday’s was significant.

First, we wanted to see the Texans face an inferior opponent and treat them as such without any of those lulls they are prone to have. They did that.

Photos: Texans 30, Browns 12

But even bigger, the Texans hit some milestones in their third consecutive win that gives strong indication the franchise has turned the corner and bigger things are ahead. The AFC South leaders are 6-3 and three games above .500 for the first time in franchise history.

It stands to reason the franchises’ first division title and playoff berth are within reach now with a favorable season-ending schedule.

“Winning in this league has to be short-lived,” said running back Arian Foster. “You have to keep pushing and keep focused on the goal at the end of the year and that’s the playoffs. That’s our initial goal.

“Right now we are sitting where we want to be, first in the division and 6-3. But as everyone knows things can go downhill real fast in this league so we have to remain focused.”

If Sunday’s performance is any indication, the Texans should have no problem attaining their goals. Save for a play here or there, they dominated the Browns in all facets.

It’s hard to say which side of the ball had the impressive performance.

The Texans defense just pummeled the offensively-Browns, holding an opponent to under 200 yards of total offense for the third consecutive game. The unit created turnovers that turned into points and nearly scored itself. It’s hard to imagine asking for much more.

But then there was Texans offense, which is still without its best weapon in All-Pro Andre Johnson. They looked as lethal as it has at any other point this season with the running back duo of Ben Tate and Foster just flat wore down the Browns defense.

For the second time in three games, both backs rushed for over 100 yards with Foster going for 124 yards  and a score while Tate came off the bench to rush for 115 yards, one touchdown and a ridiculous 9.6 yards per carry on 12 rushing attempts.

Talk about an advantage when you have two backs running the football the way the Foster and Tate are, taking away any pressure that may exist with Johnson missing his fifth straight game and counting due to a hamstring injury.

About the biggest problem the Texans have right now is correctly predicting which back has the hot hand at the right time.

“It’s fun to watch right now,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said of his duo backfield. “It’s almost like a competition because they just go back and forth.”

It makes you wonder just how much better the Texans will be once their best deep threat returns to the lineup maybe this upcoming week at Tampa Bay or possibly following the bye week. When you consider the way the defense continues to fly around and limit opposing offenses, it’s realistic to be believe the Texans will be one of the best teams in the AFC come December.

But the Texans understand while outsiders can afford to look down the road, they have to remain focused what’s directly ahead. That happens to be Tampa Bay followed by a much needed bye week after that.

“It feels great,” safety Glover Quin said of being 6-3. “It will feel even better if we go out and get the next one and be 7-3, so that’s our focus right now.

“We’ll enjoy this win, it feels good to be 6-3 at this point in the season but we have to come right back against Tampa.”

Contact Terrance Harris at terrancefharris@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris

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