The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts came into this game in two very different places. The Texans were on a nine game winning streak and in contention for a potential playoff bye week. They had also just dismissed a Cleveland Browns team who looked strong. On the other hand the Indianapolis Colts came into the game having just been shut out by a Jacksonville Jaguars team who themselves could only muster six points. They were also in a slightly perilous place in terms of their own playoff lives. A loss in this game would have left them one game behind both the Ravens and Titans for the #6 seed.
The importance of this game on the division may not be that important but for both teams playoff situation it was extremely important. Let’s take a look at what happened in the game.
This game took a little while to get going. In fact it was one of those games on RedZone they have to remind you is still going on. In fact there were six punts in the first quarter alone. Quite incredibly all of them were three and out situations. In six of the seven drives that culminated in the first quarter there were more than three offensive plays in just one of them. That drive was a 10 play, 82 yard touchdown drive for the Texans.
That drive in itself was interesting as the Texans snapped the ball 11 times offensively. Seven of those times Deshaun Watson threw the ball. In total they ran the ball four times. The running backs totalled -3 yards and a touchdown. Watson scrambled for 12 yards on a third down play. The drive also included a converted fourth down attempt and an interception overturned by a penalty.
Colts Turn It Around
However, by half time the Colts were leading 17-7. Despite three of the six touchdowns in the game coming from running backs, both run games actually struggled. Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines totalled 34 yards on 17 carries, with one touchdown. That meant the pressure for turning the game fell onto Andrew Luck. Their first touchdown was set up with a 60 yard bomb from Luck to T.Y. Hilton.
On their second touchdown drive Luck threw three times for 65 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile the run game accounted for just one yard in total. On the field goal drive which ended the half Luck was responsible for all nine offensive plays. It was a similar story in the second half with the touchdown to Zach Pascal coming on a drive where the run game had just seven yards.
Texans Finally Pay For Inconsistencies
Offensively the Texans have been lucky to win nine straight games. This game those inconsistencies in their offence finally came back to haunt them. Lamar Miller had been carrying this offence but he managed just 33 yards on 14 carries. In total the run game accounted for 89 yards on 25 carries, with 35 of those coming from Watson on five carries of his own.
The problem for Houston is that when the run game does not work then the pass is also a problem. The offensive line woes were highlighted again. Watson was sacked five times and hit seven times. That pressure showed in his final line, as he completed just 27-of-38 passes for 267 yards and a single touchdown.
Defensively it is hard to be too upset with the Texans. Other than 199 receiving yards from Hilton they held the Colts offence in check. They dominated the run game for the Colts and hit Luck five times. It has looked for a while now like this defence was carrying the offence and this game demonstrated just that.
What Does It Mean?
For the division it is unlikely that this means anything. The Texans still have a two game lead atop the division with three games to play. At a minimum they only need one more win and that is assuming the Colts or Titans win out. However, for their bye hopes it was a bit of a blow. On a week where the Patriots and Steelers both lost the Texans failed to take advantage.
For the Colts they have kept themselves in with a chance of winning the division. The chance is slim but it is better than nothing. More importantly they are now in a four way tie with the Titans, Ravens and Dolphins for the #6 seed. There is a good chance that they need to win at least two and perhaps even three to make the playoffs from here. However, had they of lost this game they would have needed to win all three with no room for error.
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