This game ended up being somewhat of a damp squib to kick off Wildcard weekend. The Colts defence manhandled the Texans throughout the game and their offence was almost perfect in the first half. Unfortunately for this AFC South showdown the game was essentially over as a contest by half time.
Let’s take a look at what happened in a matchup that did not quite deliver on the pre-game hype.
A Story of Third Downs
A stat that I emphasised in the preview was the relative dominance the Colts offence had over the Texans in converting on third downs and in the red zone. Well the first half of this game was all about the third down conversion rate, with a little red zone conversion rate coming into play later.
The Colts were 7-of-7 on third downs in the first half and the Texans were 2-of-6. To compound the Texans woes they were also 0-2 on fourth down plays, with one of them resulting in an interception. T.Y. Hilton may not have found the end zone in this game but he was huge on third down for the Colts and Luck was constantly looking his way when he needed a completion.
One thing that helped the Colts were two costly offsides penalties for the Texans that made third and medium third and short for the Colts. At home, where the crowd is supposed to play in your favour that is fairly inexcusable.
On the subject of conversions, the Colts were 3-of-4 in the red zone in the first half, the Texans were 0-of-1. Those conversion successes speak for themselves.
Colts come out running
Despite the reputation of the Texans defence against the run, the Colts were not scared to attempt to run the ball. After just two run plays on their first drive, the Colts ran the ball seven times on their second drive. Those run plays accounted for 52 of their 74 yards on the drive. The Colts passed the ball plenty in the first half but that drive was crucial to set the tone for the Colts offence.
In contrast, the Texans totalled 105 rushing yards on the day and they relied on Deshaun Watson for 76 of those yards. Lamar Miller managed just 18 yards, and the other two backs combined for 11 yards on three carries.
X factors blunted
While T.Y. Hilton had 85 yards, Kenny Moore had an interceptions and Darious Leonard had 13 tackles, the Texans X factors were somewhat blunted. DeAndre Hopkins caught just 5-of-10 targets for 37 yards, leaving the Texans to lean on Keke Coutee. One of the keys for this game for the Colts was to not let Hopkins beat them and they absolutely did not let that happen.
As for JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney? Well they combined for zero sacks, seven tackles and just a single tackle for loss. Watt did get his hands on two balls, one of which was picked off but in general their effect on the game was minimal. Luck had plenty of time in the pocket and the Colts were able to run the ball seemingly at will.
This was a sad indictment of much of the Texans season. Bad play finally caught up to them when they faced good teams. All season they crept past bad teams while playing badly. Winning badly is great but you have to step it up at some point. They never did and they paid in this game.
As for the Colts, they looked like one of the most balanced teams in the playoffs. A bad offensive line for the Texans helped their pass rush look better than it may usually be, but the rest was impressive. They have a balanced offence with both pass and run options. It is a strong offensive line, maybe the best in the league. They have a defence which lacks stars but is a strong group and can play above their individual talents.
Now the Colts have to look forward to Kansas City. They are going to need even more from this defence in Arrowhead. The good news is that their offence should be able to dominate a bad defence in KC. It should be yet another fascinating game as this incredible Colts season continues far deeper than we ever expected.
Imaged credit: Yahoo