The Houston Texans took a big step toward a division title by sweeping the season series against the Colts with a 22-17 victory on Sunday. Here’s what we learned:
1. This was the formula for success for Houston to play around their struggling quarterback. On a day the Texans only had 131 yards passing, Lamar Miller keyed a 185-yard effort from the Texans ground game. Rotating with Alfred Blue (55 yards), Miller found big holes all afternoon against a depleted Colts defense.
2. This game showed the Colts’ many limitations on a day where Andrew Luck was not at his best. Luck was hit a ton and turned the ball over three times, although only one of those turnovers was his fault — a particularly ugly interception where he tried to force a pass. Colts receivers other than T.Y. Hilton failed to make tough catches all day and the Colts didn’t trust their running game. (Frank Gore had 10 rushes for 41 yards.) These looked like two teams lucky to be in any playoff race.
A dejected Luck after the game: “Disappointed in myself.”
3. Benardrick McKinney made a terrific play on the Colts’ final offensive play, recognizing a screen pass attempt on fourth-and-one near midfield. McKinney, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney have been excellent all year and came through Sunday, especially Clowney. Playing through an injury, Clowney hit Andrew Luck on one interception, forced a fumble, had three QB hits and drew a big holding penalty. The Texans had 13 QB hits (but only one sack) as they won the battle up front on both sides.
4. While Brock Osweiler was his usual depressing self for most of the game, give him some credit for key throws on Houston’s fourth-quarter field goal drive which took 6:19 off the clock. If you only watched the fourth quarter of Colts-Texans games this year, you’d think Osweiler has delivered for Houston. The team’s comeback victory in Week 6 now looms large with Houston (7-6) having swept the season series.
5. Indianapolis’ wideout depth has been an issue all season. After Donte Moncrief left with a hamstring injury in the first quarter, Phillip Dorsett dropped 2-3 passes. He wound up with 19 yards on eight targets.
6. Now 6-7 and third place in the AFC South, the Colts head on the road the next two weeks in Minnesota and Oakland. With Tennessee and Houston both at 7-6, Indianapolis may have to win out to get in the tournament. They aren’t complete enough to do that.