With the Colts’ 4th win of the season, it’s time to acknowledge the “Horseshoe Heroes” of Week 6 against the Houston Texans. These are players that went above and beyond their positional requirements and delivered an exceptional performance, in another winning performance to boot:
WR T.Y. Hilton: If I wrote Hilton as the only hero of this game, I’m not sure many Colts’ fans would object. However, keep in mind that football is still a team game, and while Hilton was absolutely dominant, there were other players who deserve some recognition as well.
That being said, Hilton was absolutely dominant. As we wrote in “T.Y. Terrorizes the Texans”, he finished the game with 9 receptions for 223 receiving yards and 1 TD. The 223 receiving yards were a career regular season high, and 1 yard shy of the Colts’ all-time franchise regular season game record held by former Baltimore Colts’ great Raymond Berry. He had 147 receiving yards in the first quarter. Hilton’s performance wasn’t just a great individual performance, it was a historically great performance for any NFL receiver, well…ever.
Oct 9, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) slips away from Houston Texans linebacker Brooks Reed (58) at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
QB Andrew Luck: We’ve become accustomed to these type of exceptional performances from the league’s leading passer, and #12 once again didn’t disappoint. While he wasn’t “5 touchdown good” in this one, he dissected the Houston Texans’ secondary for 370 passing yards (25 for 44 passing attempts), 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, and a Quarterback Rating of 97.7. It wasn’t his best individual performance of the season, but still, it was a very good one all things considered.
P Pat McAfee: “The Boomstick” has shown that he can bring the “boom”, as he’s 2nd in the entire NFL in net average per punt at 44.8 yards. However, in this one, he flashed his true athletic ability and showed that he has more than simply a booming leg.
After scoring their first touchdown of the night on a Trent Richardson run, and the game now at 10-0, the Colts opted to kick an onside kick with 11:13 left in the first quarter. The Houston Texans were in an ill-advised kick return formation and had no one covering the center of the field. Tactfully, McAfee tapped the ball just over 10 yards with his foot and then sprinted to the ball and recovered his own kick before any Texans’ players could get to it. It was a key play that allowed the Colts to jump all over Houston in the first quarter en route to a 24-0 lead.
ILB D’Qwell Jackson: Jackson started the season slow in his first two games with the horseshoe; however, he’s been the team’s leading tackler in their last 4 games (all of which were wins). He has 34 tackles in those games, giving him an impressive 8.5 average tackles per game.
He wasn’t spectacular in this one, but finished with 7 tackles (5 solo), 1 TFL, 1 sack, and 1 QB Hit. If that weren’t enough, the advanced statistics provided by ProFootballFocus (subscription) gave him a +1.8 rating against the Texans, his highest grade of the season, as he played all 54 of the team’s defensive snaps.
Oct 9, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (52) and defensive end Cory Redding (90) celebrate after a tackle against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
OLB Bjoern Werner: As the Colts’ 2013 first round pick, Werner had been one of the team’s scapegoats for his mediocre performance in the Colts’ first 4 games. However, he’s now put together two consecutive exceptional performances.
Werner wasn’t nearly as disruptive as he was against the Ravens last weekend, but he had one of the biggest plays in the game, when he strip-sacked Texans’ QB Ryan Fitzpatrick on 1st down with 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter, sealing and effectively preserving the Colts’ victory.
Oct 9, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) runs with the ball against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
DT Zach Kerr: Zach Kerr has had a really good debut season for the Colts. Undoubtedly, he’s been a pleasant surprise, having come in as an undrafted rookie free agent. However, Thursday night simply wasn’t his finest hour. With 10:24 left in the second quarter, and the Texans’ Randy Bullock attempting a 32-yard field goal on 4th and 5 on the Indianapolis’ 14-yard line, Kerr covered the Texans’ center, Weeks, resulting in an illegal formation penalty which gave the Texans a new set of downs.
The Texans went on to score a touchdown on a 4-yard Andre Johnson touchdown reception. It was one of the key plays that started shifting the momentum in Houston’s favor and sparked their serious comeback attempt.
Run Defense: Always a Colts’ killer, the Texans’ Arian Foster ran for 109 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns for a healthy 5.5 ypc. His back-up, Alfred Blue, had 22 rush yards on 3 carries (7.3 ypc). It was the first time the Colts’ defense has allowed over 100+ total rushing yards to an opposing team’s runningback(s), since their Week 2 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles. It wasn’t horribly bad, but it’s an area of the defense that will need to be tightened up next weekend and going forward.