It set the stage for what was bound to be an intense meeting between two of the top teams in the conference, with playoff implications heavy and the balance of power in the entire AFC South potentially up for grabs.
What a difference four months makes.
What fans saw last night instead were two familiar, injury-plagued adversaries whose only motivations were for positioning and under completely opposite circumstances.
For Houston, the game was crucial in determining their seeding for the upcoming playoffs, as they’d already clinched the division and still had a shot at being the AFC’s top seed this postseason.
For Indianapolis, the game was critical in determining how high a selection they’ll receive in next year’s draft, as even though they’re still tied for the worst record in the NFL, they may lose the No. 1 pick to either the Vikings or the Rams next week if everything plays out just right.
Not quite the 60-point shoot out we expected back in August, but not a completely meaningless late-December contest either.
We know the Texans will continue their trek towards a successful playoffs debut even with this fifth loss of their season, and we know the Colts will continue their surprising rise to the top of the 2012 draft board even despite their two-game win streak.
But that’s not all.
Read on to see what else we learned from Indianapolis after last night’s suspenseful prime-time triumph.