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Foster’s Big Game Ignited By Veteran Assist From Derrick Ward

By TERRANCE HARRIS, SportsRadio 610
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(credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

(credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – Feeling the need to allow star running back Arian Foster to collect himself after a rocky start on the first two plays of the game, Texans coach Gary Kubiak decided to temporarily pull his best weapon out of Saturday’s first round playoff game against Cincinnati.

But after a couple of plays, Kubiak was given what he thought was a message from Foster by way of reserve running back Derrick Ward.

Arian says he’s okay, Ward told Kubiak on the sideline.

Kubiak wisely trusted what he was hearing and re-entered his star back. It was clear at that point Foster had gotten his emotions in check after nearly fumbling the ball away on the first play from scrimmage and then jumping offside the next play.

But it was news to Foster that he had even sent a message to his head coach.

“Derrick Ward goes over to (Kubiak) and says `Arian told me to tell you he’s okay,’ and I didn’t tell him to tell him that at all,” Foster said following Saturday’s 31-10 win. “It was a vet move.

“Derrick Ward has been in this league for years and he’s been my mentor. I’m really lucky to have him, he’s made me into the back I am today. He saw me in this league when I was young last year and he has been there for me.”

Ward, whose role has been diminished due to the exceptional play of backup Ben Tate and Foster, may have made the call of the game in going to Kubiak. Foster settled down and proceeded to have an explosive game with on the money cutbacks to the tune of 153 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.

His runs in the second half, which included a spectacular 42-yard touchdown run late the fourth quarter, all but locked up the victory for the Texans in their first ever playoff appearance.

“I was worried about him a little bit,” Kubiak conceded afterward. “I tried to calm him down. He didn’t say anything to me and he sent Derrick Ward to tell me he was ok. So we just kept going. He gets better as he plays.”

Foster, who had the Texans logo cut into his hair prior to the game, admits he was jacked up which explains the rather shaky start to the game.

“I had the little jitters before the game, not that I was nervous, but I was really excited,” said Foster, whose eight-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter tied the game 7-7. “I got those out the first couple of plays and they took me out to kind of calm me down.”

From there it was vintage Foster, finding big holes on cutback runs and hitting creases with precision as he picked up yards in chunks throughout the rest of the game. The Texans ground attack, led by Foster’s 6.4 yards per carry average, accounted for 188 yards and 5.4 yards per carry for the game.

“I have been giving credit to my offensive line since I stepped into this building in 2009 and they continue to dominate the line of scrimmage and every time they dominate the line of scrimmage we reap the benefits of that,” Foster said. “We just take advantage of advantageous situations.”

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

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