Colts 21, Texans 7

Texans fall to the Colts in Wild Card playoff 21-7

Deshaun Watson had a rough day. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Texans playoff run came to a brutal end at home against the division rival Indianapolis Colts 21-7. This game was never really close as Indianapolis jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and the Texans played catch up the rest of the way. Not much went right but the biggest play of the first half was a tipped pass by J.J. Watt that was intercepted by Brandon Dunn. Only down 14-0, it could have shifted the momentum, but like they did four times in this game, Houston failed to gain 10 yards for a first down and gave the ball back to Indianapolis. Playing from behind, Houston was only 2 for 5 on fourth down, and they walked off the field with nothing.

After Houston gave the ball back, the Colts marched down the field again for their third touchdown and a commanding 21-0 lead. They never looked back, and Deshaun Watson and company could never find their footing. J.J. Watt would have another tipped pass, but the defense was overmatched, including Houston's dominant front seven who failed to sack Andrew Luck in this game.

With a big lead in the first half, Indianapolis could spend the rest of the game walking the line between aggressive and conservative play calling. That led to 422 yards of offense for the Colts, 200 on the ground and 222 in the air. Andrew Luck had a big day finding open receivers, especially T.Y. Hilton who caught five passes for 85 yards. Luck finished the day 19 of 32 for 222 yards, two touchdowns and the lone interception. His touchdowns were thrown to tight end Eric Ebron, who had a big year in the end zone for the Colts, and Dontrelle Inman who finished the day with four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.

It took Houston until the fourth quarter to finally get on the board. Faced with a 21-point deficit they put together a 16 play, 89-yard drive that finished with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Keke Coutee who was playing after a long absence due to injury. The touchdown sparked the offense, and on their next possession they went 65 yards to the Colts 24-yard line. It was there that Watson fell apart. He missed on four consecutive pass attempts and Houston turned the ball over on downs with 4:09 on the clock.

The Colts, who had a huge day running the football, were able to eat up the rest of the time and walk away with a victory. Colts running back Marlon Mack became the first 100-yard runner against Houston all season as he carried the ball 24 times for 148 yards, 47 coming in the final minutes when Houston desperately needed the ball back to have any hope of a comeback. At the end of the day, Watson was 29 of 49 for 235 yards and one touchdown. Coutee was the leading receiver with 11 catches, 110 yards and a touchdown. The All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins was shut down all day and managed only 5 receptions for 37 yards. Houston's running game was led once again by Watson, who took it eight times for 76 yards.

This was largely a demoralizing game for the Texans, who rode a nine-game winning streak to an AFC South Championship. They didn't look the same at the end of the season as teams were making a playoff push, and their shortcomings were exposed in a big way early against the Colts. Now their season is over and changes will come as they prepare for 2019.

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Houston can win series on Sunday

Timely hitting helps Astros edge out D-backs to even series

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros had two losses over the last 24 hours; one a game against the Diamondbacks in the series opener on Friday night, the other the news that their recovering ace, Justin Verlander, announced Saturday afternoon that he is opting to undergo Tommy John surgery. The decision and surgery will likely sideline Verlander through 2021 when his current contract with Houston ends.

With that, the Astros headwinds continued to increase, meaning a win to even the series with Arizona on Saturday would be a much-needed pick-me-up. Here's how they did:

Final Score: Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 26-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-2, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luke Weaver (1-8, 6.51 ERA).

D-backs score two on Javier who is pulled early

Kole Calhoun, who drove in four runs, including a home run in Friday's game, would start the scoring on Saturday with a solo home run off of Cristian Javier in the top of the second, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Javier allowed another run in the top of the third, giving up a leadoff single that would move to third on a groundout then score on a sac fly, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Javier finished the third and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, but whether it be due to a pre-determined pitch count or other situation, he would not go any further, ending his night there on just 77 pitches. His final line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 77 P.

Astros grab a lead in the sixth

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff single by Josh Reddick, who would move to third after a walk and fielder's choice before scoring on an RBI-groundout by Jose Altuve, making it 2-1. Enoli Paredes was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the top of the fifth and retiring six straight batters for two perfect frames.

Houston would get to Luke Weaver in the bottom of the sixth, getting a leadoff single by George Springer, who would score from first on an RBI-double by Altuve to tie the game. Altuve would come around as the go-ahead run later in the inning on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, knocking Weaver out of the game as the Astros took their first lead of the game, 3-2.

Houston evens the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James was the next reliever for Houston in the top of the seventh, and despite getting into a jam by issuing a one-out walk and hitting the next batter, he was able to get out of it. It was thanks to a great play by Michael Brantley, who started a double play by catching a lineout and throwing a runner out at second to end the inning.

Brooks Raley had the eighth and erased a one-out walk by retiring the next two batters to maintain the one-run lead. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Astros turned to closer Ryan Pressly to get another save and finish the one-run game. Pressly would do so, as Houston would move back up to .500 and even the series 1-1 heading into the rubber game on Sunday.

Up Next: The finale of this series between Houston and Arizona, and Houston's last regular-season home game of 2020, will get underway at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) ERA will be on the mound for the D-backs, while Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Astros.

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