AFC South games aren’t pretty. Thursday night games are ugly. The result of both on one night, in the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts: an ugly win for the hometown Texans.
A game with drama from beginning to end, the Texans kept viewers stuck on their television sets until the final moments — a heave to the sideline, marking the end of regulation and, subsequently, a brawl on a gridiron.
The divisional tilt was a battle of two polar opposite offenses. On one end, the Texans moved the ball on big plays. On the other, the Colts couldn’t find those big plays, instead opting to kick it back to the 1960s by running down Houston’s throats.
Indianapolis’ run-heavy offense worked. The Texans had no answers for Jonathan Williams, who filled in for starter Marlon Mack. Endlessly, Williams ran down the throats of a defense donning all steel blue. The career journeyman stampeded for 104 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
With Williams leading the way, the Colts won the time of possession battle (33:17 over 26:43). However, when push came to shove, Jacoby Brissett and Co. weren’t able to match Deshaun Watson’s explosiveness paired with his wide-outs.
Whereas the Colts bludgeoned their way to accomplish their goal of controlling the tempo, they could not contain a healthy Texans offense that enjoyed the re-addition of wide-out Will Fuller, who hauled in seven receptions for 140 yards.
Fuller bullied rookie cornerback Marvell Tell throughout the Texans win, making a number of big-gains, including two for over 40 yards. On the other side, DeAndre Hopkins made light work of the veteran Pierre Desir. “Nuk” handed the ball off twice to his mom — his signature touchdown celebration — while recording six receptions for 94 yards as well as the two scores.
Ultimately, the catalyst for victory for the Texans was big plays. The Colts controlled the game with their rush-attack; however, Brissett averaged just 5.2 yards per attempt, to Watson’s 9.9.
Indianapolis’ struggles to create big plays stemmed from Houston’s coverage on famed “Texans-killer” T.Y. Hilton. Hilton finished the night with six targets for three receptions and 18 yards, his worst game against the Texans.
By the time the Colts figured to pass the ball, the Texans were keyed in. Brissett, on Indianapolis’ last offensive play, found nothing on fourth-and-7, scrambled and fell short of the first. Houston’s much-maligned coverage unit won the most important play of the night.
There was nothing pretty from the Texans’ win. The Colts bullied the Texans’ front-seven; Watson had some miscues; the crowd, at times, was out of it; Houston finished with a win, which is all that matters.
While the Colts dominated the time of possession battle, the Texans were the ones to find productivity out of their offense. Houston, with their big plays by way of Watson, Hopkins and Fuller, attacked the Colts’ defense when they needed to do the most.
On fourth-and-7 with 3:00 left, Brissett looked downfield, scrambled OLB Brennan Scarlett stopped him a yard of the line to gain. The Texans got the ball back and never looked relinquished it.
Colts: 9-15 on third down. The Colts gashed the Texans on third down, regularly finding open targets midfield or rushing it for a sufficient gain.
Texans: 9.6 yards per play. Though winning by just three, the Texans more than doubled Indianapolis’ yards per play (4.7), proving the win came at the hands of big gains.
Indianapolis Colts — 0,10,7,0 — 17
Houston Texans — 0,10,3,7 — 20
HTX — Fairbairn 35 kick, 13:46
IND — Brissett 5 yard run, 4:33
HTX — Hopkins 35 yard pass from Watson, 2:00
IND — Vinatieri 36 kick, 0:02
IND — Williams 13 yard run, 5:44
HTX — Fairbairn 36 kick, 2:47
HTX — Hopkins 30 yard pass from Watson, 12:41
- ILB Dylan Cole – calf
- DL Carlos Watkins – hamstring
The Colts will host the 5-5 Tennessee Titans on Dec. 1.
The Texans will host the 9-1 New England Patriots on Dec. 1 for a Sunday night affair at NRG Stadium.