Colts-Texans round two. Round one saw the Colts jump out to an early lead only to watch it disappear at the hands of Brock “the Jock” Osweiler. This week the Colts hoped their newfound ability to step on the throat of a reeling opponent would lead them to victory and a division lead.
It didn’t. In fact, the offense came out looking like they had used up all of their scoring potential for the season against the Jets and had no interest in finding the end zone anymore. The offense was a major let down.
The unit started out well enough with Andrew Luck taking a read option play for 30+ yards and TY Hilton finding a way to impossibly keep his feet in bounds on a throw down the sideline. They kicked a field goal there and then didn’t see another point added to their side of the scoreboard until their second drive of the second half.
An interception on an anticipation throw where Dwayne Allen fell down should have been a sign that the day was just not going to go the Colts’ way. The offensive game plan was similar to the Jets game in that the Colts coaches seemed content to only run when they felt they needed to, but to mostly let Luck sling it to win it. But, more like the majority of the games prior to the Jets game, Luck’s pass catchers had no interest in getting open.
Kudos to the Texans’ defensive effort, but the Colts still have no one to blame but themselves. Dorsett continued to be a mind boggling player who dropped so many passes that it felt like he was continuing a campaign to no longer be referred to as a first round draft pick because he doesn’t want the pressure. There were comparisons to DHB on twitter during the game. I really don’t have the grounds to disagree. Dorsett’s stats are slightly better, but not by much.
On top of the drops, the Colts also had to deal with Jack Mewhort and Ryan Kelly leaving the game. With Denzelle Good already out, Le’Raven Clark saw time at tackle and Jonotthan Harrison saw time at center. It wasn’t great up front, but Luck still had a lot of time to throw on most of his pass attempts. Many will say he held the ball too long, and perhaps he did, but he was also struggling to find anyone on his team willing to get open.
The end of the first half ended with the Colts driving to score before halftime, stalling after three straight incompletions, and Vinatieri missing a 55-yard field goal. The Texans went on to score. It was ugly and only got worse. The Colts doubled down on their failure to complete the reason they deferred by turning the ball over on 3rd down. This time because Luck was trying desperately to find someone, anyone willing to catch the ball to keep the drive alive.
It’s a common theme. When Luck tries to do too much, bad things tend to happen. He wants to win so badly that he tries to make up for the inabilities of his teammates and it leads to foolish choices.
The Colts capitalize on a couple of long defensive pass interference calls to get into the red zone. The first results in a fantastic screen play to Frank Gore who scores the Colts’ first TD of the game. The second has Dwayne Allen blocking Clowney one on one. Which of course results in a strip-sack of Luck and another turnover.
The Colts have one final scoring drive where Hilton showed that he and Luck are still studs when the game is on the line. Their prowess encapsulated in a beautiful 35-yard TD play from Luck to Hilton where Hilton was held and still got free for the easy catch.
The final offensive drive of the game stalled on 4th-and-1 when the Colts inexplicably called a screen pass to Robert Turbin. The play never had a chance and Luck had no option B. It’s the kind of play call that saw this team struggle to convert early in the season. No excuse for that.
Now, let’s talk about the defense. Osweiler isn’t a great QB and the Colts didn’t make him look like one. For the majority of the game, the Texans made a concerted effort to keep the ball out of his hands. The Texans saw a few drives end after asking Osweiler to throw which included an INT and a few drives stalling in the red zone.
The defense allowed 13 points in the first half. Six (6) of those points came off of offensive turnovers (Luck INT and Vinatieri missed FG). Other than that, the Colts defense allowed one singular long drive that resulted in a touchdown. That 12 play, 80 yard drive had Lamar Miller gashing the Colts for big gains and Osweiler finally connecting on passes he had been missing.
That’s about as much as you can expect from the defense. They played well enough in the first half for the offense to jump out to a lead had the offense decided to show. Playing without D’Qwell Jackson, Clayton Geathers, and Patrick Robinson, the Colts got decent production from Darius Butler (moving to safety), Antonio Morrison/Edwin Jackson, and Rashaan Melvin.
They gave up nine (9) points in the second half. That should be enough to win games, but not when the offense played like it did today. As the game wore on, it was clear how exhausted some of these young players were. Holes got bigger, runs went for more yards, receivers were more open. The Colts defense isn’t good and their level of decent play isn’t sustainable for long.
The second half saw the Colts defense give up six more points after two Luck turnovers (INT #2 and the strip-sack). That’s 12 of Houston’s 22 points that came directly from the offense turning the ball over. The final three points that the Colts gave up was after what looked to be a fumble recovered by the Colts instead was ruled a fumble “without a clear and immediate recovery.”
Colts fans were rightly angered by this call after it was ruled down by contact, the Colts challenged saying that it was a fumble, the ruling was changed to a fumble, but because there was not “clear” recovery, the Colts still lost a timeout. It’s a bit sketchy. It was demoralizing for the defense trying to save the game. They still held to a field goal and gave Luck plenty of time to go and win the game.
Well…he tried. But play calls on 4th and 1 are hard. Perhaps because the Colts are so used to punting on 4th and one that they forgot that they need plays for that situation.
In the end, it was a disappointing game for the Colts that also saw Donte Moncrief unable to haul in a couple of TD passes in the red zone and then leave with a hamstring injury. The playoff hopes for the Colts plummeted after this loss. The Texans (and the Titans who also won) have a one game lead over the Colts as well as the tie-breaker after sweeping the season series.
It’s ugly for the Colts right now. How Jim Irsay can watch this and continue to think it’s the best use of Andrew Luck’s prime is beyond me.
Next Up: A trip to see the Minnesota Vikings. Mediocre offense and great defense. The question will continue to be how will the offense play. Either way, the playoffs are looking like a complete pipe dream with Minnesota and Oakland road games the next two weeks.
Stats: Andrew Luck — 24/45 276 yds 2TDs 2INTs
Frank Gore — 10 carries 41 yds; 2 rec 33 yds 1TD
TY Hilton— 9 rec 115 yds 1TD