Dec 16, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) sets up to take a snap against the Houston Texans during the first quarter at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Colts 17 – Texans 29
The comeback pattern looked like it would continue. Down by 10 at halftime, the Colts came out in the second half a much improved team. They were driving. The running game got going, Andrew Luck threw a touchdown pass, and Houston’s play calling appeared conservative. But ultimately, the Colts could not take down the now 12-2 Houston Texans, who, with their victory, clinched the AFC South division title. Had the Colts won at Reliant Stadium today, they would have cliched their own playoff spot with a Wild Card berth. Now, things become a little more complicated.
Andrew Luck played a solid game, throwing for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns. More importantly, he did not throw an interception, the first time the quarterback did not turn the ball over since Week 9 against Miami. However, Luck was sacked a whopping 5 times, three of which came courtesy of J.J. Watt, a top candidate for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award. The offensive line struggled to give Luck time to the get rid of the football, likely due to the fact that both Samson Satele and Winston Justice were missing from the lineup with injuries.
Vick Ballard was once again the star of the run game. The rookie continues to improve and had his best outing to date, notching his first ever 100-yard rushing game behind Anthony Castonzo‘s excellent run blocking. It’s hard to believe that Ballard has only been starting for half the season. As he will tell you, a player’s name can be called at any time, and it’s amazing the opportunities that can arise from it.
Perhaps the Colts could have put more points on the board if their X-factor player Reggie Wayne had not virtually been taken out of the game plan. Wayne had only 3 receptions for 14 yards, almost unbelievable numbers for the AFC’s 4th-leading receiver. However, T.Y. Hilton did his best to pick up the slack. The rookie out of Florida International caught his team-best 6th touchdown pass of the year and led the team on the day in receiving yards (78). Dwayne Allen had the other receiving score.
What really cost the Colts on offense were some inexcusable errors. Running back Mewelde Moore, who was signed to the active roster just this week, fumbled the ball on Houston’s 1-yard line, costing the Colts a touchdown. Reggie Wayne would also have had a touchdown had it not been negated by a penalty. It did not help that the Colts were only 1-for-8 on third down.
While the defense did a remarkably good job of containing Arian Foster in the first half, they succumbed to him in the second half, and they could not stop the Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson passing tandem at all throughout the entire game. Foster had 165 yards on the ground, while Johnson had 151 yards and a 52-yard touchdown. Dwight Freeney provided a bright spot, recording a tackle for no gain and a sack on consecutive plays in the third quarter (The sack was his first since Week 9). Robert Mathis and Antoine Bethea also recorded sacks on Schaub, and Vontae Davis led the team with 9 tackles. The defense found themselves on the field for a good portion of the game, with the Texans dominating the time of possession.
Adam Vinatieri‘s 26-yard field goal and 2 PATs enabled him to surpass the 100-point mark for the 15th time, good enough for second all time. ‘Nuff said.
Pat McAfee kicked a 63-yard “Boomstick”-worthy punt, but another of his punts was blocked and returned for a Texans touchdown.
The Colts proved on Sunday that they can indeed compete with the top teams in the AFC, but mistakes cost them a huge statement victory and a guaranteed playoff spot. Without the fumble, the blocked punt, and the touchdown-nullifying penalty, the Colts could very well have found themselves earning a 31-22 victory. Who knows? The Colts’ playoff chances are still very much alive, though. Horseshoe Hero will have the game recap of their matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium next week, and we’ll see what unfolds.
Stay #CHUCKSTRONG, Colts fans!