Colts vs. Texans: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Indianapolis
According to Brian Burke's Advanced NFL Stats, the Colts' win probability fluctuated between three and four percent for much of the second half.
Through explosive passing, a stiffer defense and a few lucky breaks, the Colts came back from an 18-point deficit and put a damper on the Texans and Tennessee Titans' hopes at salvaging the division. The Colts look well on their way to another AFC South title, but the struggle against the Texans definitely exposed some chinks in the armor of the 6-2 Colts.
Andrew Luck: B+
For much of the game, Andrew Luck looked bad. Clearly rattled by the consistent pressure and hits that Houston racked up in the first half, Luck was uncomfortable and rushed in the pocket, and sailed throws and missed reads because of it.
Now, it wasn't all Luck's fault. His receivers dropped numerous passes, and the offensive line was as bad as it's been all year. That being said, Luck wasn't playing well through the first two-and-a-half quarters of this game.
But, midway through the third quarter, Luck found his sweet spot. Boosted by improved pass protection, Luck was able to read the field, step into his throws and accurately hit open receivers down the field in the third quarter and beyond, throwing touchdown passes to T.Y. Hilton on three straight drives to pull ahead 27-24 in the fourth quarter.
Overall, Luck was 15-of-28 for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the second half and only took one sack after taking three in the first half. With the win, Luck earned his 10th game-winning drive and seventh fourth-quarter comeback. Luck's 10 career GWDs are the most ever by a second-year quarterback, while his seven 4QCs is tied with four other quarterbacks for the most in a quarterback's first two years.
Richardson ran for just 20 yards on eight carries, but it can't all be blamed on him. The Colts continue to try to run behind heavy power sets despite their inability to do so. Richardson ran decently in one-back sets, although his lack of vision and slow burst through holes was still apparent.
Richardson also contributed through the air in this one, catching two passes for 33 yards, including his most important play of the day, a 24-yard screen pass on the Colts' go-ahead drive.
Donald Brown: B+
Once again Brown was the best runner for the Colts, as noted by Cris Collinsworth on the Sunday Night Football broadcast. Brown ran for 49 yards on just six carries. Even if you take out Brown's 24-yard run, he still averaged five yards per carry. Brown did have a poor drop on a third-down pass, which drops his grade, but overall it was another impressive night for him.
T.Y. Hilton: A+
Seven catches, 121 yards and three touchdowns.
What else needs to be said? He earned his touchdowns in a variety of different ways, was a big third-down target for Luck and was the Colts' most effective weapon by far.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: C
While Heyward-Bey has the attributes of an effective receiver, he simply can't seem to put it together. He dropped at least two passes on Sunday again and just isn't reliable. He was taken back to be evaluated for a concussion after taking a shot late in the third quarter, but he reportedly does not have a concussion.
Griff Whalen: C+
Whalen caught just three passes on nine targets (two drops, by my count) but caught a critical 17-yard pass on 3rd-and-10 with just under six minutes left in the game. Whalen went up and made the tough catch with a defender draped all over him, and it allowed the Colts' game-winning drive to continue.
Coby Fleener: B+
Targeted just five times, Fleener caught three passes for 64 yards, not including a phenomenal grab on a back-shoulder throw from Luck on a two-point conversion.
Fleener has struggled with drops in the past but was sure-handed Sunday night, and he was open more than Luck saw. He should continue to get targets in the middle of the field.
Run blocking: B+
Pass blocking: B-
When they weren't telegraphing their runs with a fullback, the Colts actually opened up some creases and got a push on Sunday. The Colts rushed for 4.9 yards per carry, although they were completely unable to run the ball at the end of the game to clinch the victory.
Pass protection was much improved in the second half after an awful first half kept Luck from really ever being comfortable in the pocket. That improved protection was the biggest reason why the Colts were able to come back and win. It helped that they stopped lining up Mike McGlynn with J.J. Watt one-on-one.
Run defense: D
Pass Rush: D+
The defensive line did little to impress on Sunday night, getting pushed around in the run game and struggling to get to Case Keenum in pass rush. The line did pressure Keenum a bit in the second half, but most of the pressure came on linebacker blitzes. Cory Redding did get two quarterback hits on the day.
Robert Mathis: C-
Mathis made a couple plays against the run but was completely stoned by left tackle Duane Brown for the vast majority of the game. It was a rough day for Mathis, who will look to bounce back next week against the Rams.
Erik Walden: B
Yes, Walden actually was a positive force today. While he wasn't a factor in pass rush for most of the day, he did manage to bring down Keenum for a sack, and one that forced a much longer field goal that Randy Bullock missed. Walden also played the run much better than Mathis and had a decent day overall.
Jerrell Freeman: C
Pretty neutral day from Freeman, who struggled to disengage from blockers and wasn't used as a quarterback spy, as he should have been against the mobile Keenum. Freeman finished with five tackles.
Pat Angerer: B
Angerer led the team in tackles and picked up a pass defense, tackle for a loss and a key quarterback hit late in the fourth quarter. It was arguably Angerer's best game this season.
Bjoern Werner: D+
Werner struggled in limited time in his return from injury. He looked a little weak in run defense and made no impact in pass rush. He needs to get completely healthy before he tries to play again.
Vontae Davis: D
In Davis' worst game of the season, he allowed Andre Johnson to start the game off with a 62-yard touchdown, and then proceeded to allow Johnson to run wild for much of the first half. When Davis did draw another assignment, he still allowed a few catches, whether it was because of poor judgment with the ball in the air (the above picture) or poor coverage.
The lack of pass rush in the first half didn't help, but it doesn't excuse Davis for his performance.
Cassius Vaughn: C-
Darius Butler: C-
Like Davis, Vaughn and Butler both allowed too many completions on Sunday night. They didn't allow quite as many as Davis, but each corner had his name called on Sunday.
When you're a corner, that's usually not a good thing.
Antoine Bethea: C
Outside of getting burned deep down the field by Andre Johnson for a 41-yard touchdown in the first quarter, Bethea didn't have a horrible day. He was strong in run support and finished with eight tackles and a quarterback hit.
Bethea's zone coverage skills in the middle of the field have gone downhill this year. He excels close to the line of scrimmage.
LaRon Landry: B-
Like Bethea, Landry wasn't great in coverage, but supported the run well, finished with nine tackles and was a good clean-up guy.
Pat McAfee: A-
Outside of his dropping the snap on one punt, which he made up for with an incredibly athletic play, McAfee was solid tonight. He averaged 44 yards per punt and pinned the Texans inside the 20 twice. He should have drawn a roughing the kicker penalty as well.
Adam Vinatieri: A
He did have one kick blocked by J.J. Watt, but made both other attempts on a day when the Colts needed every point they could get.