At his very best, Arian Foster is a double threat nightmare for opposing defenses, equally capable of beating a team with his feet or his hands. Just ask the Chicago Bears what kind of catches Foster is capable of making (rain or shine).
But the Houston Texans lifeline tailback has been increasingly lost in the passing game, seemingly seeing his opportunities to catch the football in open space reduced season by season.
There are signs that's changing though. Foster is being featured more in Gary Kubiak's passing attack again — and teams like the Seattle Seahawks are paying for it. Seattle came into Reliant Stadium Sunday puffed full of confidence and Super Bowl visions. Pete Carroll's happy bunch still left dancing with glee after a stunning comeback from a 20-3 deficit resulted in a 23-20 Seattle overtime win. And caused plenty of Matt Schaub heartburn in Houston.
He'd have three catches for 50 yards by halftime. This after Foster caught eight balls for 37 yards total in the first three games.
But for all the deserved gloom — and Schaub head wringing — the reemergence of Arian Foster the pass catcher at least offers a glimpse of future offensive hope.
Foster did plenty of damage on the ground, rushing for 102 yards on 27 carries. But his work in the passing game is what truly pushed the Seahawks.
It really started with a beautifully-designed pass for Foster that got him into open space on the Texans' first touchdown drive. Foster turned the play into a darting 31-yard gain, bringing Houston deep out of its own territory to kick start a 90-yard drive. On the Texans' second touchdown drive, Foster turned a swing pass from Matt Schaub into six points on second-and-goal from the 5.
He'd have three catches for 50 yards by halftime. This after Foster caught eight balls for 37 yards total in the first three games of the season. That early season start seemed to continue a trend that saw Foster's opportunities in the passing game steadily going down (from 84 targets in 2010 to 71 targets in 2011 to 58 targets last season).
"That's what Arian is great at," Andre Johnson, the Texans who's truly seen it all said in somber, near deserted locker room. "He can not only run the ball, but he can catch the ball and make players miss in open space. Arian's a big part of our offense. We go as he goes."
Having reached a critical point in their season already after four weeks — sitting at a what-should-have-been 2-2 with a Sunday Night Football national showcase game looming in San Francisco next week — Kubiak brought Foster back into the passing game. In a big way.
No. 23 would finish with six catches for 69 yards. And he could have had more. Foster slammed his helmet in frustration after he dropped a third down pass with plenty of open space ahead of him in the third quarter. On a day when he finished with 171 total yards and 33 touches.
Overall the day brought visions of what Reggie Bush was doing to the Chicago Bears in Detroit though. Foster has shown in his career that he's capable of being a better Reggie Bush, replacing some of that pure speed with a power element.
"I'm still inching back to getting to 100 percent," Foster said, who averaged only 15.6 touches the first three games of the season. "Anytime you get into a game like that where your team depends on you a lot, it helps."
For everything that went right early for the Texans against Seattle — and all the horror that went wrong late — Foster's reemergence in the passing game is one development that needs to linger.