It's been a crazy roller coaster of emotions for most in the city of Houston over the last couple of weeks and that entire ride was felt on Sunday in a grueling 20-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. As frustrating as the game was for the first 58 minutes of action, the Texans stood seven yards away from a go ahead score late in the game. Alas, that score was just out of reach and the Texans lost another gut punch, one score game, this time to their hated division rival. Here are a handful of observations from the loss to the Colts.
- Texans safety Eddie P, aka Eddie Pleasant, came up with the play of the game at the exact right time. Defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel called the perfect blitz with Eddie lurking around the line of scrimmage. He was close to a sack earlier in the game, so when he finally got to Jacoby Brissett, he blasted him, forcing the ball out and into the waiting hands of Lamarr Houston. The veteran took it the distance to cut the lead to 10-7 before the half.
- The Colts then located Pleasant any time he was on the field for the rest of the game, yet he still came up with a sack on the following pass play which forced the Colts to take a knee and end any threat of a last second first half drive.
- On that drive before the half, Bill O'Brien used his timeouts masterfully. He called a pair of timeouts as the Colts drove out of the shadow of their own end zone under two minutes in the half, even as the Colts got a first down. With that time saved off the clock, the Colts attempted to push the ball down the field and when Brissett went back to throw, Pleasant came up with the crushing sack and forced fumble with just under a minute left in the half.
- Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been a shell of himself all year long for the Colts, yet in NRG Stadium, seemingly, his favorite building away from Lucas Oil Stadium, he exploded. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett lofted a beautiful parabola to Hilton on the first touchdown.
- His second touchdown, well, that was frustrating on many different levels. Here's why. In 2014, Hilton caught a long pass into the North end of the field and when he landed, he didn't think he was touched down by Kareem Jackson. He got up and dove into the end zone. The play was reviewed and it took a super slo-mo shot to see that Kareem had just grazed him to down him short of the end zone. On Sunday, the two met again in a similar situation, as Hilton took a crossing route up the field and down the Texans sideline. Hilton dove over the top of Jackson and it was not clear upon replay whether Kareem touched him or not. But, Andre Hal was close enough to not get caught in the same situation as 2014 but didn't touch him. Hilton got up and ran to the end zone. Upon replay, the play stood as called and the Colts scored a dagger touchdown. Hilton finished the game with five catches for 175 yards, 122 on two crucial touchdown catches.
- Think about it this way...had the Texans made a 39-yard field goal earlier in the game, Hilton was touched down and the defense held the Colts to a field goal after touching him down, the Texans could've won that game with a game clinching field goal at the end, instead of needing a touchdown. Then again, if IFS and BUTS were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas.
- Defensive lineman Brandon Dunn continued to show up on the field, playing both the run and pass well. He was able to get pressure in the face of Jacoby Brissett and held the point of attack, finishing the day with three tackles, all in only 24 plays on the field.
- How close were the Texans to getting the win? DeAndre Hopkins made an attempt on a catch in the North end zone that was inches away from being a catch, an inch maybe. As the ball was thrown high and nearly out of bounds, he snatched it, unbelievably. Then, he tried to navigate the sideline with his feet but he got pushed by safety Darius Butler before he landed. That shove was just enough to keep Hop from getting his second foot/toe down to complete the catch. When quarterback Tom Savage let that ball go, I didn't think Hop had a chance, but I've seen that before. Then, when I turned to see whether he caught it, I had a great view at it. I actually thought he got his second foot down. The ref noticed that he didn't get the second toe down. It was close enough, though, to earn a replay from the booth upstairs but it was clear he didn't get both in bounds. Man, it was oh so close due to Hopkins amazing ability to make those sensational catches on the sideline.
- It was a physical game, especially in the secondary with a number of pass interference or holding calls made in the game. One they missed, though, was a clear holding on DeAndre in the end zone on third down on that final drive. Colts defensive back Nate Hairston blatantly grabbed Hop's jersey, twice, yet it wasn't called. The ball would've moved to the two or three for one final shot at the end zone.
- We'll never know exactly who Tom Savage was eyeing in the end zone on the final play, but just as he was cocking his arm to throw the ball, tight end Stephen Anderson broke wide open across the goal line.
- Oh, lest I forget, punter Shane Lechler is the absolute truth. He pinned Indianapolis inside its ten yard line four times (I think one of them was due to a penalty). He hit another a nine iron shot from the other side of midfield that took a 90 degree turn out of bounds that was amazing. After backing one up last week at Seattle, he hit that punt on Sunday.
- The Texans offense really didn't get on track until the final two drives of the game. It accumulated 132 yards of offense in the last nine minutes of the game, which was 45.8% of the total output. Yet, seven yards was all that separated the Texans from a win over the Colts.
- Jadeveon Clowney might be the strongest football player I've ever seen. Last week, he, uh, tackled Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy by tossing fullback Tre Madden into Lacy. Then, this week, he picked up another sack as he latched onto Jacoby Brissett's jersey with one hand and brought him to the ground. Keep in mind, Brissett is 235 lb. Clowney finished with four tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss, a quarterback hit, all the while earning the attention of the Colts offensive line, tight ends and running backs in pass protection.
- During the game, game analyst Andre Ware noted that Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has played 22 years in the NFL. He and Marc joked that the majority of players in the league were in elementary school. That got me thinking...Vinatieri kicked his first field goal in the opening week of the 1996 season on September 1st, 1996. Deshaun Watson was born on September 14, 1995. Watson wasn't even a year old when Vinatieri made his NFL debut.
Well, that's about it, there's not much more or even really good to say about this one, so I'll leave it there and start thinking about a trip to Los Angeles next week.
See ya then, everyone!
Take a look at the best photos as the Texans took on the Colts at NRG Stadium.