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HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans managed to slip by the Buffalo Bills to improve to 3-1 despite rushing for a season-low 37 yards.
Coach Bill O'Brien and the Texans know they will have to find a way to fix their running game if they hope to compete with Dallas on Sunday.
"We have to keep making sure that we stick the run in there. We can't just throw it 55 or 60 times a game and get away with that," O'Brien said. "We've got to figure out how to run the ball better from a coaching standpoint and from a playing standpoint."
The Texans had no trouble running the ball in the first two weeks with Arian Foster gaining more than 100 yards in each of those games. He missed the third game because of a hamstring injury, and part of Houston's problem in Sunday's win was that Foster admittedly wasn't 100 percent healthy.
He managed just 6 yards on eight carries on a day when not-that-mobile quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team with 14 yards rushing.
If O'Brien was concerned about Foster's health, he didn't acknowledge it on Monday. He said the running back, who led the NFL in yards rushing in 2010, will be day to day again this week.
"We'll talk to him every day and see how he feels," O'Brien said. "If he's able to go, he'll go."
If he can't play, the Texans will have to rely on rookie sixth-round draft pick Alfred Blue, who started in Week 3 when Foster was out. He had 13 carries for 78 yards in that game, but finished with just 9 yards on nine carries against the Bills.
The Texans have been impressed with his work ethic and improvement, but he will need to make bigger strides if Foster is out.
"We have to look at our game plans and think about what our players do well and run those types of plays," O'Brien said. "Then the players, once we get that determined, need to go out there and execute that to the best of their ability. We've just got to be more consistent in how we run the football."
Fitzpatrick didn't have a great game on Sunday, either, throwing two interceptions to give him five in the past two games after not throwing one the first two weeks. He was candid about the fact that he'll need to be better to help the offense run smoothly.
"We struggled to get things going (Sunday) for a lot of different reasons and ... it starts with me and just consistent play; consistent and efficient," he said. "That's what we — that's what I talk about and stress all the time. This offense is going to go as I go."
Houston's defense, led by J.J. Watt's 80-yard interception return for a touchdown, helped the team offset its tough day offensively. The unit bounced back from last week's loss to the Giants in which Rashad Jennings ran for a career-high 176 yards by allowing a season-low 96 yards rushing.
"It definitely improved," O'Brien said. "We had better gap discipline, more guys to the ball, but we could do better. We could definitely do better."
They will get another test in that area on Sunday when they face DeMarco Murray, who leads the NFL with 534 yards rushing this season.
"It's a huge challenge for our football team," O'Brien said. "It's on the road. Playing on the road is very difficult. Our guys have to understand that challenge and be up to that challenge."
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