Colts vs. Texans: Houston Sacks Indianapolis, Bags AFC South Crown
The Houston Texans are AFC South champions.
They outlasted the pesky Indianapolis Colts 29-17, sealing up their second-consecutive division title and furthering their quest for the top overall seed in the AFC South.
Houston took a conservative course all game and, as a consequence, let a pesky Colts team hang around.
After Bryan Braman blocked a Pat McAfee punt and returned it for a score, the Texans were staked to a 20-3 lead that eventually held up for the victory.
Thanks to outstanding performances by Andre Johnson (11 catches, 151 yards, one touchdown) and J.J. Watt (three sacks), the Texans thoroughly outclassed the Colts early in the game.
Andrew Luck was harried and hassled on most every drive but did manage to throw two touchdowns to get Indianapolis back in the contest. He was taken down five times by Houston defenders on the afternoon and picked up an intentional-grounding penalty.
A big 61-yard strike to T.Y. Hilton pulled Indianapolis to within 10 points, and after a Shayne Graham field goal, Luck found Dwayne Allen to pull the Colts within six at 23-17.
The key moment of the game came early in the fourth quarter. After the Texans were forced to punt, Mewelde Moore committed a blocking penalty, forcing the Colts to start their drive inside the 10-yard line.
Vick Ballard lost five yards on two runs thanks to another incredible play by Watt, who was clearly the best player on the field all afternoon.
On third down, Luck was hurried, and his pass to Hilton fell incomplete. It was the last time the Colts would get the ball with a chance to take the lead.
A Bruce Arians penalty set Houston up inside the Colts 40. The Texans advanced the ball just 11 yards, but it was enough for Graham to hit his fourth field goal of the game, extending the lead to nine.
The drive typified a conservative afternoon for the Texans, who attempted six field goals (making five). Arian Foster managed to put up 165 yards rushing, but much of his production came when the outcome was already settled.
For Houston, the win was a much-needed bounce back after their embarrassing performance against New England. The Texans dominated the first half and spent most of the second holding the Colts at arm's length.
Watt took the defense on his back and plagued Luck. The Colts had no one who could block him, and he feasted on the rookie.
The Minnesota Vikings will close out the regular-season home schedule for the Texans in Week 16. A victory could well clinch the top overall seed in the conference depending on the outcome of New England's games.
Indianapolis can take solace from fighting hard and managing a healthy comeback. The Colts weren't able to take advantage of their one chance to take the lead, but they can be proud of the game's overall effort.
The Colts still need a win to make the playoffs, and they could find it on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16. The Chiefs are one of the worst teams in football, and a victory should be attainable.
These two teams will meet again in Lucas Oil Stadium in two weeks, but there may be nothing on the line. Houston has never won in Indianapolis, so a victory would be historic.
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