HOUSTON – Frank Gore ran with authority and with a purpose against the Texans. He needed a big game following a couple of non-Gore-like efforts this season.
In Thursday’s 27-20 win over the Texans, the first-year Colt looked like the Gore of old -- tough to tackle and powering his way to a game-high 98 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
“I told myself, just be me,” Gore said. “I’m watching film last week. Every time I get stopped, that’s not me. I found myself pressing. I said I’m just going to sit back, be patient, have fun, and trust my linemen.
“And whenever we get an opportunity, to go get it. And today that’s what I did.”
And Gore ran like he did when he played for San Francisco, where he was selected to five Pro Bowls and is one of 11 NFL players with at least eight 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Thursday was Gore’s best game of the season after being signed by Indianapolis as an unrestricted free agent in March.
Against a Texans’ defense that features J.J Watt, Gore averaged a solid 4.5 yards per carry without a fumble. He took handoffs from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who got another start with Andrew Luck inactive because of a right shoulder injury.
“He was unbelievable tonight,” offensive guard Joe Reitz said. “As Frank gets more and more comfortable with the offense, we’ll continue to see these special performances out of him. He’s the ultimate warrior and we love blocking for him, because we know we’re not going to block it right sometimes, and he’s still going to give us four or five yards.
“He’s a man’s man there, running the ball and that was a huge performance from Frank. I’m excited as the season goes on to watch him continue to grow with us.”
Gore’s longest run against the Texans was 20 yards.
At age 32, Gore’s performance, along with an offensive line that did not allow a sack, helped the Colts improve to 3-2 on the season and 3-0 in the AFC South. The Colts have won 16 straight division games.
Indianapolis rushed for only 110 yards, but they were yards that continued drives and led to scores. The Colts were running zone scheme and power scheme.
“They (were successful) but it wasn’t anything crazy,” Texans inside linebacker Brian Cushing said. “They got the points they needed.”
Gore’s previous rushing high this season was 86 yards with two touchdowns against Tennessee. His previous high in carries was 17 against Jacksonville.
The Texans’ focus on stopping Gore paved the way for the Colts completing a third-down pass with 1:37 remaining in the game from Hasselback to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for 43 yards to Houston’s 37-yard line, sealing the win.
“I don’t feel like I have to make every play,” said Gore, who has rushed for more than 11,300 yards in his career.
In a 20-7 loss to the Jets in Week 2, Gore lost a fumble just in front of the end zone. He’s put the miscues behind him.
With the Colts riding a three-game winning streak, Gore said he just needs to calm down and stop pressing.
“Just have fun,” Gore said. “Whenever my number is called, just help this team. I’m going to fight. That’s what happened today.
“The O-line did a great job. I was up to the challenge and we did a great job on the ground.”