COLTS 24, TEXANS 21
The streak ends as the Texans fall 24-21 to the Colts
Houston's winning streak ended at home against the Indianapolis Colts as they fell 24-21. It was an up and down game where Deshaun Watson struggled against the blitz and the running game couldn't find its footing. Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton did what they always seem to do against Houston and the defense was not able to get key plays that had seen them win the last nine.
The Texans offense seemed lost in the first half, amassing only 114 total yards. Meanwhile the Colts got hot in their last three drives of the half to take a 17-7 lead at the break. Houston's lone score of the half came in the first quarter when they put together a 10-play, 82-yard drive that ended with Alfred Blue's second rushing touchdown of the season.
The Texans defense looked strong early in the game, holding the Colts to four consecutive three-and-out drives followed by an interception on the fourth possession. They couldn't hold it together as Andrew Luck and the Colt's offense found a weakness in the middle of the field and exploited it for three touchdowns and a field goal on their next four possessions. Luck finished the day 27 of 41 for 399 yards with two touchdowns and the one interception.
Both defenses bottled up the running game. At one point in the third quarter, each team's quarterback was its leading rusher. The Texans defense held the Colts to just 50 yards on the ground and gave up just one 4-yard touchdown run. Houston didn't fare much better, although there were times Lamar Miller looked like he was going to break out. His numbers for the day look awful though. He had so many negative rushes early on that he finished with only 33 yards on 14 carries for a 2.4-yard average.
Down 17-7 at half time, it was all about a strong start in the third quarter for Houston. They got the ball to start and marched down the field methodically for a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to get back within 3, 17-14. It took a gutsy call on fourth down from the six-inch line that punched the ball in. Bill O'Brien dialed up a direct snap to Lamar Miller who dove under the offensive line for the score. It was short lived as the Colts went down the field in eight plays the very next drive to go back up by 10.
Houston's defense tightened up and kept the Colts from adding any more while the Texans offense was stifled. Deshaun Watson struggled to get rid of the ball, especially in the face of the blitz. Indianapolis got to him five times for minus 41 yards and forced him to average only seven yards per pass. He ended the game 27 of 38 for 267 yards and a touchdown. He was the team's leading rusher with five carries for 35 yards.
The defensive front is still impressive. J.J. Watt notched his 12th sack of the season and Christian Covington increased his total to 3.5. They stopped a lot of short plays and were able to disrupt Andrew Luck's throws multiple times. The secondary was able to get some solid pass break-ups but struggled to cover the middle of the field and the tight end. T.Y. Hilton torched them for nine catches and 199 yards. Tight end Eric Ebron had another big day for Indianapolis hauling in four passes for 65-yards and his 12th touchdown of the season.
The day wasn't without drama. With 4:30 left in the game, Houston got the ball down 24-14 and put together a 70-yard drive capped off by a seven-yard touchdown catch by DeAndre Hopkins who had been held in check for most of the game. He caught only four passes for 36-yards and the touchdown. They were now back within three points and just over two minutes left to play. Needing a stop, Andrew Luck would draw Jadeveon Clowney offsides on the other side of the two-minute warning to run out the clock and end any hope of a Houston comeback.
This was a win Houston desperately needed, as Miami was able to knock of New England. A win would have given them a chance to finish the season ahead of the Patriots in line for a playoff bye. They will have to try again next Saturday against the New York Jets.