Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis
The questions surrounding both teams are many:
Are the Colts really this good? Statistically, they resemble an 8-8 squad instead of one with an 11-5 record.
How much has emotion played in the Indianapolis turnaround? It was obvious today as Chuck Pagano returned to the sidelines, but it must have given them some sort of edge since he went into treatment after Week 3 of the season.
Are the Texans this bad? To be 11-1 at one point, and go 1-3 down the stretch makes everyone wonder which mark is more representative of their ability?
Did Houston start believing their press clippings when they were ranked No.1 just one month ago? Could it be something as trivial as the letterman jackets they donned before the Patriots game may have exposed just how immature they really are?
The Colts, meanwhile, can feel satisfied and probably don't give a damn who they face next in the Wild Card round. Just like their head coach, they have beaten the odds all year long.
It's easy to say this one was lost on two big plays: the Karim KO return and the Hilton TD. The outcome was actually decided last month.
The season went south almost immediately after the Falcons lost the top ranking after barely beating the Bucs in Week 12. Once Houston took over that slot after winning in OT vs. the Lions, it continued a defensive slide that ended up infecting the offense as well. Just a coincidence?
Kubiak and Co. never got over losing control of their immediate future last week. Overall, this team lacks the experience to handle the big moments. They were in the same situation last year as Indy is this year, and they gamely soldiered on without any grand expectations hanging over them.
The Texans now look like they missed the last bus while the Colts act as if they can't wait for what's around the bend.
Third down conversions: Colts 9-15, Texans 5-11
Turnovers: Colts 0, Texans 2
Total yards: Colts 265, Texans 352
Total plays: Colts 62, Texans 60 (Colts closed out the game with a 16-play drive that ate up 9:46)
Kickoff returns: Colts 4-170, Texans 4-111
going 0-11 against 1 team in 1 building in the NFL is embarrassing, regardless of team quality— Mike Meltser (@MikeMeltser) December 30, 2012
The clock is against Houston as Indianapolis is in the seventh play of a drive into Houston territory with five minutes to go. The Colts have been running the ball with relative ease right into the heart of the Texans' defense.
At the 2:00 minute warning, the Colts have held the ball for 12 plays for 6:59. Houston can do nothing with no timeouts left as the Colts go into victory formation.
Vick Ballard carries the ball 10 times for 32 yards in this final drive. He looks exhausted by the of the game, but the Texans look completely demoralized as they meekly give away any hope to get the ball back.
Final score: Indianapolis Colts 28, Houston Texans 16.
Matt Schaub goes 3-4 on a five play drive that gets the Texans withing striking distance at the Colts 30. When he tries to turn it into six points, Vontae Davis picks it off. Davis has been all over the field with five solo tackles and three defensed passes.
Schaub's pass once again hangs in the air long enough for Davis to adjust before Johnson can.
Going into this drive, Greg Gumbel noted the Colts had one yard total offense in the second half. If there was any chance for Houston to regain the lead, it was presented to them when they had the Colts third-and-23 at the Indy 30.
But Quintin Demps, who was inactive in the Vikings game due to constantly getting torched, is burned again by T.Y. Hilton. His 70-yard touchdown compounds the humiliation.
Colts 28, Texans 16 at 11:31 mark of the fourth.
Houston starts off again with another penalty, this time on the punt by the Colts that is assessed on the start of their possession.
Nine plays gets the Texans to the Indy 35, but Graham misses from 52 yards. The Indianapolis pass rush is giving the Texans fits. For a team that 28 sacks going into this game, the sack by Lawrence Guy to end this possession is the fourth of the day for Indy.
The Texans start their comeback drive with a sack by Freeney over Duane Brown, followed by a false start penalty. The lose six yard in three plays, playing as if they are still stunned by Karim's return.
Houston's lead lasts all of five seconds as Deji Karim returns kickoff 101 yards. Not one special teamer on the Texans touches him all the way to the end zone.
The Texans' special teams have been a thorn in their side, now surrendering their third scoring return on the year.
Houston ends seven play drive highlighted by 23-yard ramble by Arian Foster with another Graham FG. It looks as if the Texans may have solved the riddle of the Colts front seven with some consistent holes opening for Foster and giving time for Schaub to go through his laborious passing motion.
On the seventh play of the Texans' drive, Moise Fokou trips over Robert Mathis as Schaub escapes to make third down throw to Owen Daniels at Colts 30. Then Andre Johnson drops sure TD pass in end zone.
Houston is helped by holding penalty on Vontae Davis. Andre was double-covered but pulled out of bounds on his route. Two plays later, Foster squirts up the middle from 13 yards out on great lead blocks by James Casey and Chris Myers.
The story of the first half is evident in the numbers:
First downs: Colts 13, Texans 7
Penalties: Colts 1-9, Texans 5-20
Number of offensive plays: Colts 38, Texans 25
Time of possession: Colts 16:44, Texans 13:44
The Texans look as befuddled as they did in losing to the Vikings. They are acting as if they are in the totally unfamiliar position of protecting a No.1 AFC playoff seed.
The Colts look confident and are playing as if they have nothing to lose. Which, according to their playoff placement, is exactly the case.
Another Houston penalty is called as T.Y. Hilton takes a pass to the one-yard line, and Vick Ballard punches it in over the left side of the Colts' line (LT Anthony Costonzo and LG Joe Reitz) for the TD.
Ballard had a 20-yard run on the first play of the drive to loosen up Houston secondary for Hilton reception.
Schaub underthrows James Casey who had Vontae Davis beat, but the Colts DB picks it off and returns it to the Houston 39. The Texans' QB had the time but short-armed another long pass, a longstanding issue for him.
Watt gets his 16th tipped pass of the season, extending his record for defensive linemen.
Houston is called for two more penalties; they have five for 20 yards on the game. The Colts have none.
Matt Schaub finally hits Johnson in-stride all the way to Colts' 20-yard line. Alas, Houston once again turns red-zone opportunity into three points. They were 1-5 in the previous Colts game in the same area.
Fumble overturned on review: who was Luck throwing to that made it a pass?
T.J. Hilton continues to torment the Texans with 17-yard reception. The Ninja Assassin, Antonio Smith, sacks Luck on third down to force punt.
Keshawn Martin has nice 22-yard punt return to Colts' 38-yard line.
Watt gets a strip-sack recovered by Whitney Mercilus on Colts 14. CBS' Dan Diedorf commented Luck holds on to the ball too long, a constant problem throughout the season.
Kubiak puts his challenge record further in the red with a dubious 12-man call on Indy defense. DeVier Posey bails out his head coach with a third-and-13 pass for a first down over a prone Vontae Davis.
False start by Andre Johnson; Colts have the Texans playing like the Chiefs last week. Another bubble screen pass to Johnson on third-and-nine?
Arian Foster follows the lead of the Chiefs by running on four straight plays until Schaub finds Owen Daniels on third down. Gary Kubiak continues to use deep threat Andre Johnson on a bubble screen.
Clinton Geathers comes untouched over gap vacated by Pro Bowlers Wade Smith and Chris Myers to sack Schaub for nine-yard loss. This is how the AFC South division champ plays under pressure?
Glover Quin gambles on INT but TE Dwayne Allen takes the catch to the Houston 4-yard line. Then Brandon Harris loses track of the ball on a PI call in the end zone. Luck ends the drive by hitting a wide-open Coby Fleener after a perfect play-action handoff to Ballard.
Andrew Luck is riddling the Texans porous defense by stepping up in the pocket, using motion and screens as the Colts OL has the early edge on Watt and company.
Chuck Pagano is fighting back tears as a highlight video on the Colts' surprising season plays on the Jumbotron.
The Chiefs gained 195 yards rushing over the left side of their offensive line in the Colts game last week. This also happens to be the most skilled flank of the Texans’ OL.
KC's Jamal Charles had a 226-yard day on the ground last week, and today the Colts have two DL starters out. You think Arian Foster is paying attention?
Colts' Tom Zbikowski is also out. Starters DE Cory Redding and NT Antonio Johnson are not playing; next up on the depth chart are Ricardo Mathews and Martin Tevaseu.
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