Coming in to Thursday night’s game, the Houston Texans had never before won a game at Lucas Oil Stadium. But even without Peyton Manning standing in their way, the Texans, who have won the AFC South division for the first time in franchise history, still couldn’t get it done against the resilient Indianapolis Colts. The now 2-13 Colts beat the Texans in dramatic fashion last night, 19-16, in front of a sellout crowd in Indianapolis.
The Colts are now streaking in a new, positive direction; they’ve won two games in a row (The Packers don’t even have that kind of winning streak going right now!) and finally appear to be playing to their capabilities. In fact, the Colts became the first one-win team to defeat a rival with 10 or more wins in NFL history. They have a lot to be proud of.
The Colts have played games this season in which singling out a playmaker has been difficult, but I have to say that choosing one single player that stole the show last night was even more difficult than finding a player who played consistently well against the New Orleans Saints in Week 7 (Colts lost 62-7, in case you missed that one…I wish I did). Last night’s win was a collective effort in which many players contributed, so this week there will be several Horseshoe Heroes:
Dan Orlovsky was the fourth quarterback that the Colts turned to this season. The veteran had to wait seven seasons to get his first NFL victory, but he only had to wait four days to get his second. Orlovsky had a shaky first half against the Texans, including a fumble on the Colts’ first possession that led to a Texans touchdown, but in his final drive he looked downright Peyton-esque. Orlovsky drove the Colts 78 yards in 12 plays during that final possession, which culminated with a one-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne with 19 seconds remaining. The score sealed the Colts victory. Over all, Orlovsky threw for 244 yards and didn’t have a single interception.
Reggie Wayne, in what might have been his last game as a Colt, played magically. Wayne caught 8 passes for 106 yards, including the dramatic winning touchdown. He also averaged 13.3 yards per reception and caught a long pass of 34 yards. Should Wayne’s contract not be extended in 2012, he can leave knowing he’s created a memorable 11-year legacy in Indy. It just may have been the perfect ending for the eventual Hall of Famer.
Antoine Bethea led the Colts with nine tackles, eight of which were solo tackles, and Robert Mathis has two sacks on Texans quarterback TJ Yates (It may have also been Mathis’s last game in a Colts uniform). The defense as a whole did a great job of containing the Texans. As usual, Pat Angerer looked particularly beastly and had five solo tackles of his own.
Center Jeff Saturday has been one of the few Colts to start every game this season. The 13-year veteran even played a crucial role in saving the football season during the NFL labor negotiations. No one would be playing if it weren’t for Saturday.
Adam Vinatieri may have spent the majority of his career with the despicable Patriots, but he’s now a true Colt in my mind. Vinatieri kicked four field goals last night of 23, 32, 47, and 31 yards, respectively. Therefore, he’s responsible for roughly 63% of the Colts’ points, and therefore, their victory.
If you can’t tell, I’m incredibly proud of all the Colts for their efforts last night. They have persevered through an incredibly rough season and never gave up. Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay summed up the night best:
"Merry xmas,Colts Fans..what a WIN! So proud of r guys,fighting to the end! Forget April,enjoy the NOW!"
I’m going to have to agree with Mr. Irsay. If the Colts win on New Year’s Day in Jacksonville, they risk losing the rights to the first pick in the NFL Draft and, consequently, the rights to the prodigal college quarterback Andrew Luck. But the veterans in the Colts’ locker room aren’t thinking about that, and neither can we fans. It’s time to celebrate the now and play for pride and reputation. The Colts are winners! At least, for now.