By Chris Duncan, AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts were lost without Peyton Manning on Sunday.
Matt Schaub threw for 220 yards and a touchdown, Ben Tate rushed for 116 yards and another score in relief of injured Arian Foster, and the Texans dominated Kerry Collins, Manning's replacement, in a 34-7 victory.
The Texans looked like they're finally ready to take over the AFC South.
Manning, the four-time MVP, didn't travel with the team to Houston as he recovers from his third neck surgery in the past 19 months. His streak of 227 consecutive starts, including playoffs, came to an end.
The 38-year-old Collins was lured out of retirement less than three weeks ago to take a crash course in the offense. Based on the opener, the Colts need to find another solution.
Collins fumbled on consecutive snaps that set up Texans touchdowns in the first quarter, and he was sacked three times. He didn't throw an interception, but the Colts mustered only 236 yards and 15 first downs against Houston's 3-4 defense guided by new coordinator Wade Phillips.
The Texans sprinted to a stunning 34-0 halftime lead, even with 2010 NFL rushing leader Foster deactivated with a left hamstring injury. Foster ran for 231 yards in the opener against the Colts last year, but the Texans hardly missed him.
Tate, a 2010 second-round draft pick who sat out last season with a broken ankle, carried 24 times and Ward scored a touchdown before leaving late in the game with an ankle injury.
Indy, meanwhile, seemed overwhelmed on both sides from the start.
Mario Williams hinted what was coming when he sacked Collins for a 9-yard loss on Indy's fourth snap. Williams, Houston's sacks leader in each of the past five seasons, made his first start at outside linebacker, one of the big changes introduced by Phillips.
The Colts' defense was just as vulnerable, allowing 259 yards and 19 first downs in the first half.
Neil Rackers finished Houston's second series with a 25-yard field goal before the romp started in earnest.
Collins lost the ball when he was hit by defensive end Antonio Smith, and nose tackle Shaun Cody recovered at the Indy 12. Ward scored on a 1-yard run for a 10-0 lead.
Collins dropped the next snap from center Jeff Saturday, rookie defensive end J.J. Watt pounced on the loose ball, then Tate ran into the end zone with 1:41 left in the opening quarter.
The Texans couldn't feel comfortable just yet, recalling they'd blown 17-point leads to the Colts in Houston in 2008 and '09. Manning wasn't here to bail out Indy, though, and Houston poured it on.
Schaub went 5 for 5 on the Texans' next series, finding Andre Johnson open in the back of the end zone for a 24-0 lead. Johnson had seven catches for 95 yards in the game.
Indy failed to get a first down on its next possession, and the Texans turned to their backup running backs to drive downfield again. Tate broke a 14-yard run and Ward had an 8-yarder before Rackers kicked a 29-yard field goal.
The Colts used their timeouts at the end of the half to give the offense one more chance to do something, and even that backfired.
Jacoby Jones fielded a punt with just over a minute left and outran the Colts down the sideline for a 79-yard touchdown. It was Jones' third punt return for a touchdown and his first since 2008.
Tate fumbled with about 10 minutes left in the game, and the Colts averted the shutout when Reggie Wayne caught a 6-yard TD pass from Collins.
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