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Dayne, Texans knock off Colts

HOUSTON (Dec. 24, 2006) -- Ron Dayne has been called everything from a disappointment to an all-out bust in his NFL career.

On Sunday nothing was going to stop him from proving -- if only for one afternoon -- that he was anything but a flop. The 1999 Heisman Trophy winner had a career-high 153 yards rushing and two touchdowns despite playing three quarters on an injured ankle, and Kris Brown kicked the winning 48-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Houston Texans their first win over Indianapolis, 27-24.

Dayne was injured on the first play of the second quarter when linebacker Gary Brackett hit him helmet-first on his right ankle. He sat out the rest of the series to get his ankle taped, something he said he'd never done in a game, and returned to carry the ball 20 more times.

"It was real sore," Dayne said. "I just kept going out there and every time I'd run and somebody might fall on it, I would come out. Then I would just go back out there even without them telling me to. I just wasn't going to be denied today."

The loss kept the AFC South champions from a chance to clinch a first-round playoff bye.

It was the first time Dayne, released by both the Giants and Broncos before landing in Houston, gained 100 yards since September 2001 with New York.

"The Texans believed in me and they gave me the opportunity, and I knew I could run the ball," he said. "I'm just trying to take advantage of it each week. When I get the ball I'm going to try to show coach that I want to be here and I want to help this team win."

The Texans (5-10) used Dayne and rookie Chris Taylor to eat up the clock and exploit the Colts' suspect run defense, ranked last in the NFL, while taking pressure off David Carr and the struggling passing game. The win broke a nine-game losing streak to the Colts (11-4).

The performance capped a span of four straight solid games in which Dayne had 429 yards rushing and five touchdowns.

"Bottom line, I don't care who you play, when you play or where you play, we've got to play better than we played today," said Colts defensive tackle Anthony McFarland.

Houston led through most of the game until Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison connected for their second touchdown, a 7-yard pass that tied it 24-24 with 2:41 remaining.

Carr and the Texans then engineered a six-play, 31-yard drive that ended with Brown's winning kick. The much-maligned Houston quarterback was 16-of-23 for 163 yards and a touchdown and was not sacked.

"It was really disappointing for us not to come through with a win down here," said Colts coach Tony Dungy. "But that's the way everything's been this year."

Dayne scored on runs of 3 and 6 yards on Houston's first two drives, and fullback Vonta Leach added a touchdown just before halftime. The Texans added a 42-yard field goal by Brown to stretch their lead to 24-17 in the fourth quarter.

The loss ruined another record day for Manning, who set an NFL mark by reaching 4,000 yards passing for the seventh time in his nine-year career. Manning was 21-of-27 for 205 yards and had three touchdown passes.

"This is a critical time for us," Manning said. "This is the time when people on the outside will start pointing fingers. As a team we need to stay together and guys just need to do their jobs a little bit better across the board and all three phases of the game."

He entered the game needing 90 yards to reach the mark and got it when he found Harrison on an 8-yard pass in the second quarter. His second touchdown pass of the day, a 9-yarder to Aaron Moorehead, came four plays later and tied it 14-14.

Indianapolis had a chance to get even again late in the third quarter, but Manning's feet got tangled up with his center and the pass fell short, forcing the Colts to settle for a 33-yard field goal that made it 21-17.

No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams finally emerged for Houston after a quiet few weeks. He forced Dominic Rhodes ' fumble on the Colts' second play. Anthony Weaver recovered the ball on the Indianapolis 47.

Dayne's second touchdown run helped the Texans capitalize. He lowered his head and shook off a defender to cruise into the end zone for a 6-yard score that put Houston ahead 14-0.

The Colts needed a win over Houston and a loss by Baltimore on Sunday to secure a playoff bye. Now, that is in jeopardy.


Colts running back Joseph Addai had 100 yards rushing to bring his season total to 1,017 yards, making him the fourth Indianapolis rookie to reach the 1,000-yard mark. ... Texans WR Andre Johnson's four catches gives him 101 this season to make him the 35th player to reach the milestone.

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