Week 15: Horseshoe Heroes


With the Indianapolis Colts’ 10th win of the season, it’s time to acknowledge the “Horseshoe Heroes” of Week 15 against the Houston Texans. These are players that went above and beyond their positional requirements and delivered an exceptional performance in what was a AFC South divisional-clinching 17-10 Colts’ victory:

Dec 14, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne (87) salutes the fans as runs off the field after the game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeats Houston 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Reggie Wayne: It wasn’t the 4 receptions for 24 receiving yards that were overly impressive. It was Reggie Wayne setting the Colts franchise record of most career games played with 209 games, passing QB Peyton Manning at 208.

As a testament to Wayne’s durability and consistency, the Colts’ franchise leader in career games played now stands alone in Colts history. It was against a fitting foe, as Wayne has more of his 82 career touchdowns against the Houston Texans with 12 touchdowns, than against any other team in his 14-year NFL career.

Dan Herron: While he wasn’t able to reach paydirt, Herron’s 11 carries for 60 rush yards (5.5 ypc) were impressive. With the Colts’ offense in game management-mode late, they leaned heavily on the legs of Herron, who had 5 consecutive rushes for a total of 35 rush yards (7.0 ypc) late in the 4th quarter. The drive ate 7:14 of clock and set Adam Vinatieri up to kick a 29-yard field goal with 2:15 left in the 4th quarter. It effectively forced the Texans to score a touchdown in their final drive, which they failed to do.

Vontae Davis: The Colts shutdown cornerback had an impressive day in the defense’s secondary with 3 tackles (3 solo) and 2 passes deflected, including a Texans’ back-up quarterback Tom Savage game-sealing interception with 1:34 left in the 4th quarter that set up the Colts’ victory formation. On the afternoon, Texans’ quarterbacks were 1 for 5 for 30 yards, an interception, and a dismal quarterback rating of 12.5 when targeting Davis.

Dec 14, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (14) is congratulated by tight end Coby Fleener (80) after scoring a touchdown against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Hakeem Nicks: It’s good to see that Nicks still has a pulse in the Colts offense. His 2 receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown weren’t all-world numbers, but it was good to see the 6-year veteran make a positive impact again.

It had been a while. It was Nicks’ 1st touchdown and multi-reception performance since Week 11 against the New England Patriots. It would really help the offense if Nicks can provide a reliable and consistent target as a 3rd wide receiver out there going forward when called upon.

Dec 14, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Houston Texans safety Kendrick Lewis (21) runs back an interception for a first quarter touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

First Quarter Turnovers: When quarterback Andrew Luck‘s pass was intercepted by the Texans’ Kendrick Lewis, it marked the Colts’ 6th first quarter turnover in their past 4 games. The Colts continue to inexplicably turn the ball over in the first quarter at an alarming rate. Even worse, Lewis made this interception a “pick-6”, as he took it 27 yards the other way. It put the Texans up 7-0, and once again, the Colts faced an early first quarter deficit because of turnovers.

The offense continues to dig itself an early hole, and eventually, they may not be able to climb their way out of it against superior competition.

As far as general turnovers, that’s 21 total points that the Colts have surrendered in their past 2 games directly off fumbles or interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Run Defense: Entering the day, Arian Foster has 134 carries for 861 rush yds (6.43 ypc) and 8 touchdowns in 7 career games against the Indianapolis Colts. Impressively, the Colts limited him to 26 carries for 99 rushing yards (3.8  ypc) and 0 touchdowns on Sunday. For a running back that has historically always had big games against the Colts, the team’s run defense was able to successfully keep him in-check.

Dec 14, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman (50) at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Indianapolis Colts won, 17-10 to clinch the AFC South Division. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports