Marshall Faulk rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns in his debut as the Indianapolis Colts, with 13 new starters, surprised the error-plagued Houston Oilers, 45-21, on Sunday. Houston had its 11-game regular-season winning streak stopped.
“We want respect,” Faulk said. “As a team, we want respect from everyone we play. We’re not going to lay down and roll over for anyone.”
All six Indianapolis touchdowns were scored by players who had joined the Colts since the end of last season, when they were 4-12. The Colts scored after each of three Houston turnovers and set a team record for most points in a season-opening game.
The Colts led, 42-0, when Faulk, the second pick overall in the draft, went to the sideline late in the third quarter. Faulk, who carried 23 times, scored on runs of one, two and 11 yards. His longest run was 52 yards.
“I didn’t pay attention to the score,” he said. “As long as they kept me in there, I was going to do my job. Sometimes you look at the score and get a tendency to relax, and I didn’t want to do that.
“The butterflies weren’t there today. I knew what I had to do. It felt great getting into the open field. But it’s not the long runs that really got us to win this game. It’s the constant first downs, the banging for five and 10 yards and getting in on third and one and getting the first downs. That’s what got us to win this game.”
Faulk’s one-yard run 12:56 into the game marked the first time in 23 games that Indianapolis’ offense scored in the first quarter.
Linebacker Tony Bennett, a free agent from Green Bay, returned a fumble a Colt-record 75 yards for a touchdown and Chicago Bear castoff Jim Harbaugh passed for two touchdowns to Floyd Turner, a free agent from New Orleans.
“We didn’t play Houston Oilers football. Everybody was playing for the Colts instead of for the Houston Oilers,” cornerback Cris Dishman said.
“He’s a great back. I give him his credentials,” he said of Faulk. “But I don’t think he faced the true Houston Oilers defense.”
Houston got its only touchdowns on fourth-quarter passes of two yards to Pat Carter and 16 and 15 yards to Haywood Jeffires from Bucky Richardson, who replaced Cody Carlson in the third period.
Carlson left the game because of an injured left shoulder, and doctors determined he suffered a second-degree shoulder separation.
“Cody took a heck of a lick. At this point, his shoulder’s banged up pretty good,” Houston Coach Jack Pardee said.
Carlson, the full-time starter since Warren Moon’s trade to the Minnesota Vikings in the off-season, was sacked by Tony McCoy for a 20-yard loss and a fumble, and Bennett scooped up the ball on the run and raced 75 yards for the second touchdown of his career and a 14-0 lead.
It broke the former Colt record for a fumble return of 64 yards by Stan White against Buffalo in 1976.
The 28 points in the second quarter tied a Colts record for points in one period set most recently against Kansas City in 1980.
Faulk had his 52-yard run midway through the third quarter, then scored his third touchdown four plays later and reluctantly sat out the rest of the game.
“Actually, I would have loved to have played the whole game, but it didn’t work out that way.” Faulk said.