Texans 37, Colts 34

Stars come out of hiding in Texans 37-34 OT win over Colts

J.J. Watt had another big game. Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

With a lot of pressure on Houston to finally get a win this season, the defense was the star in today’s 37-34 win in overtime against the Indianapolis Colts. What looked like a big win for the Texans came crashing down in the second half as they surrendered an 18-point lead and allowed the game to go to overtime. They couldn’t hold against the powerful arm of Andrew Luck and a big lead dwindled to nothing before the game’s end.

The teams traded field goals in overtime, but it was Houston getting a key defensive stop to give them one more chance at victory. Jadeveon Clowney’s sack of Andrew Luck to make it 3rd and 21 on the Colts side of the field was the big play they have been waiting for from the fifth-year player. But it was just a part of what they had done all day against the Colts.

The Texans defense helped build a big lead in the first half with constant pressure on Andrew Luck and multiple forced turnovers to keep them in a positive game script. It allowed the offense to work methodically down the field. It looked like this would be a signature win for Houston’s young season.

J.J. Watt continued his return from injuries with another dominant performance up front. He finished the day with two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a tackle for loss. He was active all day, much like he was in the years he won defensive player of the year. But he wasn’t the biggest star on the defense today. That honor belongs to Jadeveon Clowney.

Clowney finished the day with two sacks, four tackles for loss, and a touchdown on a fumble recovery. It was that touchdown that helped Houston draw even with the Colts early, tying the game at 7 points after Houston’s first offensive drive stalled. From there the Texans took control and built a 21-10 halftime lead, getting it as high as 28-10 before the Colts made their comeback.

The Texans secondary was a major weakness that Luck exploited early and often. The Colts threw for 464 yards, four touchdowns and gained 23 first downs through the air. The defensive front held their own but in the second half the Indianapolis offense found their groove and converted 3 of their 4 drives for touchdowns, eventually tying the score with 45 seconds left in the game.

Offensively, the play from Deshaun Watson looked like it was designed. He threw the ball on only 52% of the plays while Houston led for 45:42 of the game. He finished the day 29 of 42 for 375 yards, 2 passing touchdowns and 1 interception with another 41 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He accomplished that despite being sacked 7 times and being forced out of the pocket a lot more than desired. The yardage totals were good but winning the time of possession (Houston 40:04 to Indy 29:56) was big for Houston’s chances at victory.   

Once again, his wide receivers had big performances. DeAndre Hopkins hauled in 10 receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown. Will Fuller was on pace for another big day until he exited in the first half with an injury, but not before grabbing his third touchdown of the season. Rookie fourth round selection Keke Coutee, who made his debut today, filled in well. He caught 11 passes for 109 yards and was a go to target for short routes underneath.

Houston had another solid day rushing the ball, finishing with a team total of 119 yards and the one touchdown by Watson. Lamar Miller led the way with 15 carries for 49 yards and Alfred Blue for 12 carries for 31 yards of his own. The importance was that Houston was able to move the ball well most of game. The offense was 50% on third down and even converted a 4th-and-7 at one point.

It was a solid effort for Houston and thankfully they came out with a win.

 

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The Houston Texans seem to be focused on repairing their image. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

"It's a new day, yes it is!" That's how the theme song from one of my all time favorite wrestling tag teams/groups starts. One of my favorite lines says "Can't change the past/Gotta let it unfold." If this doesn't apply to the 2022 Houston Texans, I don't know what does.

Over the last few years, the Texans have been a laughingstock. From a comedy of errors under Bill O'Brien, to Cal McNair's reputation as Tommy Boy, Jack Easterby was once thought to be some sort of Boogeyman, to the fans finally having had enough and fighting back with their wallets. Things haven't been smooth sailing on Kirby Drive. It started to look like a never-ending rainy day for a while. Then it happened. Nick Caserio came in riding his white horse and the weather started clearing up.

Initially, some were still skeptical, yours truly included. We had every right to feel that way. He was yet another in a line from New England. "Patriots South" was beginning to look like a real thing, even though Cal denied it. Before he could get settled, his franchise quarterback wanted out and was also found out to be an alleged pervert. That's when Caserio started to push all the right buttons.

Some people thrive under pressure. Some crumble worse than a dry ass Popeye's biscuit. Caserio is one of the ones that has managed to make coals into diamonds. Armed with a bad cap situation, devoid of draft picks in his first draft, a talented QB who wants out, and an owner trying his best to do the right things, he navigated it all masterfully so far. He traded Watson for a nice haul and used those picks in this past draft to address some concerns. Knowing the QB talent was better in the upcoming draft, he's giving Davis Mills an opportunity to show what he's got. Their collective appearance on The Pat McAfee Show recently was to show the national media something we here in Houston see every day: there are new faces of this franchise, and it's headed in the right direction.

While Mills still has to prove he can be the franchise QB, Caserio has done a good job of putting talent around him to place him in a position to succeed. If Mills is a hit, the team can use the draft capital to improve other areas of the team, and Caserio has another feather in his cap. If Mill isn't "the guy", the team will draft one of the top prospects and move on. Third round QBs that don't work out aren't seen as failures per se because expectations aren't as high. However, I believe Mills' floor is a career backup and he still holds value even if he isn't seen as a starter. Besides, who wouldn't want a guy who went to Stanford in the QB room?

Easterby has faded into the background after being thrust into the spotlight. He seems to have been thrown in the ring with a grizzly bear and come out unscathed. Lots of us were wrong about him. I now believe he was forced into a situation he wasn't prepared for, made the best he could out of it, and is now settling back into the role he originally sought out, which is the owner's right-hand man and a team/player development type of guy.

The person who deserves just as much, if not more, credit than Caserio is Cal. He went from Tommy Boy to Boss Hog in the matter of a year or so. The story of him playing video games sitting on the floor of his office fed into the perception of him being a doofus. Now, he's literally kissing babies, handing out shorts, and grilling for the fans. He's been seen at the forefront of food/water drives, as well as being very visible and accessible to fans at training camp.

These are the new faces of this franchise moving forward. Look for newer players to take some of their places when their play starts to equal wins for this team. "Get us back on the right road/On the right track/On the right flow (That’s right)/Live in the future that we all know."

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