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Atypical Arian Foster looks like an answer

The Texans rushed to victory on the back of Arian Foster's 231-yard, three-touchdown performance. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

HOUSTON -- It’s too soon to call it a watershed game, because you have to see what comes after it to know if the Texans’ impressive 34-24 defeat of the Indianapolis Colts is in fact a catapult.

But a record day for Arian Foster means an accelerated transformation for a college philosophy major who’s been cast a bit as a weird, individualistic loner.

Foster, a poet who feels a connection to ancient Egypt, now holds franchise records for attempts and yards after a brilliant 33-carry, 231-yard, three-touchdown performance. And that, he said, is certain to continue a shift that was already under way.

“I always like to walk to the beat of a different drummer, that’s always been my style. I’m somewhat of a rebel and I guess it kind of hurt me earlier on,” Foster said. “But I guess when you do well it becomes an attribute and not a flaw.”

He and the Texans' run game were pretty much flawless against the Colts.

The Texans have worked tirelessly to become a more physical football team, and it showed Sunday.

It was a throwback game for the Colts, whose defense has gotten a bit bigger up front and has gotten worn down less often. On this day, they were beaten physically and, it appeared, mentally.

With a rematch against Foster and two dates each with Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew on the calendar, there is cause for concern for the defending AFC champs.

Houston right tackle Eric Winston said the Colts want to disrupt an offense's schedule. Getting an opponent in second-and-10 or third-and-eight shapes the game in favor of Indianapolis' edge rushers, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The Texans didn’t oblige.

They were balanced in the first half with 12 passes and 11 runs. After intermission, the Texans ran the ball 10 consecutive times and 31 times total, asking Matt Schaub to throw on just five snaps.

“You could tell the Colts were getting frustrated. It seemed like every run was breaking for at least 8 yards,” left tackle Duane Brown said. “That was demoralizing to them and it built our confidence up every time.”

“They just kept pounding us until we broke,” Indy cornerback Kelvin Hayden said.

Foster, an undrafted free agent the Texans signed out of the University of Tennessee in 2009, praised the offensive line. Winston said the physical mentality was completely pervasive.

“I saw [wide receiver] Kevin Walter one time come flying in there and crack the safety,” he said. “… [Fullback] Vonta Leach, I haven’t heard those kind of collisions in a while. He was absolutely making some guys pay out there.”

The Texans have won games before that were supposed to elevate them to a new frontier. In time we found out they weren’t quite so meaningful. This one can be different, they said. It was first on the schedule, so it set the tone. It was over the Colts, who are the measuring stick and the target.

These Texans have a back to ride when they choose to try to do so, or need to milk some clock. Foster can make Schaub’s play-action more dangerous, and create more opportunity and space for Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels.

His teammates will love him for it.

And some will talk with him about his atypical interests -- “I like the poetry he writes,” Winston said. “I think it’s really insightful." And some may not -- Andre Johnson joked that he’s not planning any philosophical discussions about the Great Pyramids with Foster.

But like virtually everyone else in the winning locker room, Johnson lauded Foster’s work ethic and said he’s a quality teammate.

Who knows, perhaps Foster’s natural inclination to go against the crowd might be the ingredient that helps him be an effective running back.

“I like to go against the grain,” he said. “If you study history, usually the majority is wrong …. A lot of the monotonous thing that goes on with people in general, I just kind of do my own thing. When I first got here, there were a lot of flamboyant personalities and I just kind of stayed to myself.

“That can kind of be looked at as, 'He stays off to himself, he’s not a team guy.' As you grow as a player and get respect on the field, it turns into, 'Oh, that’s just him …' Sometimes I don’t talk. Sometimes I hold a lot of stuff in. I’m not as personable sometimes. I really am -- but I just don’t feel like talking.”

As Foster’s billing as the Texans' starter and the answer to their run-game woes gained momentum during the offseason, I did a lot of tempering. Two great starts at the end of last season amounted to an awfully small sample size.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak agreed with me on that. But he said those games, along with Foster’s work leading up to them and all the Texans have learned about him since, provided plenty of reasons to believe.

It’s hard not to believe after Sunday.

“I think we have a real chance to be as balanced as we’ve ever been here,” Winston said. “I think he’s going to be a great back in this system. I think he’s shown he’s a great back in this system. I think he’s the kind of hammer that we need.”