That's all it was going to take. The Texans couldn't go win the past 13 games on one afternoon. Fortunately, they didn't need to win more than just the one game ahead of them.
They did and it was glorious. There's still a lot of work to do in the 2015 regular season but for one night, it's time to celebrate the only win this organization's ever had in Indianapolis. Let's get into it; here are my observations from the 16-10 win over the Colts.
- Let's start with Brandon Weeden entering the game in the second quarter. I happened to be standing nearly right in line with T.J. Yates on his second quarter scramble. I saw him go down without sliding and he immediately grabbed his left knee. My heart sunk because I knew. Unfortunately, I knew because I've seen one of own players go down in the same fashion years ago. The play was called back because of a holding, so Weeden had to come into the game, down two scores, after a penalty and with only a few weeks of being active since arriving in Houston a few weeks ago. I happened to see him shortly after he arrived and he had his tablet, playbook and a notebook in his hands and his mind was racing. But, today, well, his head might have been spinning but you'd never have known it.
- The one thing that seemingly impressed me more than anything else was that he was able to operate the offense with little to no hiccups. No motion penalties. No delay of games. It wasn't always the prettiest looking performance, but when Weeden needed to make a throw...he made it. He missed one that I know he'd have liked back - the bootleg throw to C.J. Fiedorowicz - who was wide open in the third quarter. Other than that, Weeden handled the shot to bring this team back from behind like a champ. He led the team on four scoring drives throughout the day.
- The Vontae Davis-DeAndre Hopkins tete-a-tete was fascinating to watch all day long. Hopkins didn't finish the game with a TD, but he had eight hugely important catches for 94 yards, including one down the Colts sideline that really kick started the Texans 90-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
- A few times, I saw Davis wave off safety help and attempt to handle Hop on his own. But, after one play when he waved off safety Mike Adams, the Texans threw it Hopkins' way and he made the catch. After that, I didn't see Davis turn down help on Hopkins for the rest of the game.
- Who knew Jaelen Strong was the true Colts killer? His sideline toe-tapping catch late in the first half, that was initially ruled incomplete, led to the Texans first points of the game. Three massive key points to end the half. Then, he scored the game winning touchdown on play action in the flat. He caught the rock after crossing back over the formation and then beat all the Colts' defenders to the pylon. So, he has four catches against the Colts in 2015 and three of them went for touchdowns. That pretty much defines effective and efficient.
- And, yes, I lost my mind on his touchdown. I was standing right at the goal line. Just prior to the play, the line judge moved the orange G marker back off the field. I instinctively said "you've got plenty of room!!". I don't know why I said it, but wanted him to know he could back away from the field and not hit anyone. Well, he backed up further than I expected. I was behind the yellow line where I'm supposed to be and I just jumped in the air in excitement. But, as I did, the line judge kept moving backward, and nearly right into me, well beyond the yellow line. I escaped getting hit by a few inches.
- Oh and I dropped a Matt Hasselbeck pass right at me. I couldn't reel it in. I hid my head in shame. Should've made the one hander, but I couldn't channel my inner Hopkins.
- Where to start on defense? That group won't tell you it was the perfect outing, but keeping the game at 10-0 in the first half with all the mistakes the Texans had in the first 30 minutes saved the game.
- The secondary struggled a bit early on leaving some open receivers in zone coverage, but that group found its groove in the second half. Wow. One of the key plays in the second half, no one even saw. The Colts had really good field position, around midfield, when Charlie Whitehurst wanted to take a deep shot. So, T.Y. Hilton ran a deep over route, crossing all the way from the left side of the formation but Quintin Demps and Dre Hal sandwiched the Colts Pro Bowl pass catcher. One sprinted over the top and one played underneath him. Whitehurst had to pull the ball down and the Texans pulled him down for a key sack. I looked back and saw those two in perfect shape on a route that's hurt the Texans a few times in prior years.
- When Griff Whalen made the catch in the flat in the fourth quarter, I initially got a bit frustrated because I thought it was just too easy of a catch to make at that point in the game. Then, out of nowhere came Johnathan Joseph. WHAM! He put his shoulder right on the football, jarred it loose and watched Kareem Jackson pick it up and sprint for the Texans end zone. It was the last true Colts threat of the game. The Texans were the more physical team, although the Colts defense played its guts out, and that hit was the best, most effective and memorable one of the day.
- The Texans held the Colts to 50 yards on the ground and while it was a TEAM win, stopping the run was one of the top three reasons why this team won this game. Vince Wilfork played perhaps his best game as a Texan. He was nearly immovable. J.J. Watt, Jared Crick and the outside linebackers all held the edge consistently throughout the game. Colts runner Frank Gore had a long of 12 yards and couldn't come up with much yardage after first contact, which he did at NRG Stadium back in October.
- After the Texans scored to end the first half, they had to kick to the Colts to start the third quarter. Gore started the drive with a ten-yard run. Fortunately, that changed quickly. Matt Hasselbeck hit Donte Moncrief for an eight-yard gain on the next play. Uh oh. Then, it all changed. On second and two, Jackson knifed into the backfield and tackled Gore for a one yard gain. That set up a third and inches. The Colts put David Parry into the backfield and tried to power over the offensive right side. No dice. Wilfork, Jadeveon Clowney and nearly the entire front seven shot into the backfield and tackled Gore for a one yard loss. That play, that one play, seemed to juice up the sideline for truly the first time all game long.
- John Simon may have had one of his best games. One sack. One tackle for a loss. Two quarterback hits. This was more his game than trying to chase down Tyrod Taylor, Shady McCoy and the speedy Buffalo backfield. This game suited him much more and he was a menace throughout the game.
- The inside linebackers were again stellar. Benardrick McKinney had seven tackles and one sack. On that sack, it didn't appear that he was supposed to rush. At least, that wasn't his primary responsibility, but he played it perfectly. The two tight ends to that side were so worried about Watt and the inside rush that when McKinney initially didn't rush, they left their outside post. McKinney, seeing that the tight ends were staying into block, then timed it perfectly and sprinted after Hasselbeck, sacking him at the Colts one-yard line.
- Brian Cushing and McKinney have played about as well as two inside guys can play over the past seven games. They didn't play exceedingly well versus Buffalo, but even in a losing effort against New England, they were solid. I'm glad that Romeo Crennel decided to put them out there together.
- As we got on the team plane and Drew Dougherty and I took our seats next to one another, he told me that there was one play that not many people will recall that was massively important. After the Texans had kicked the field goal to make it 16-10, Kurtis Drummond sprinted down on kickoff coverage and made the tackle on Quan Bray at the Indianapolis 17-yard line. Drew was dead on. I watched Drummond the entire time down the field on that return because the Colts either didn't block him or he beat the block nearly each time down on the kickoff. After Nick Novak's second field goal to cut the Colts lead to 10-6 in the third quarter, Drummond had a chance to tackle Bray inside the ten-yard line on a return, but whiffed on him. Bray then sprinted forward to a solid gain. On that last one, Drummond wasn't about to let that happen. I picked him up around the 40-yard line and spied him the whole way. He wasn't going to miss that one. Hasselbeck then threw the game ending pick on the next play.
- Clowney was named the Texans 2015 Ed Block Courage Award recipient this week and continued his climb as a true impact player for this team and in this league. He pressured Hasselbeck and Whitehurst a number of times and batted down a pass from Hasselbeck in the fourth quarter. The thing with JD is that he's left handed so when he's rushing from the left side, he can often get that left paw on passes thrown to the outside, in particular. But, when he rushed from the right, he narrowly missed a couple of throws. He hasn't gotten to a point where he can put up both hands, so he throws up his strong hand (left hand) to try to bat those passes down.
- Dre Hal gets better at safety week in and week out. He nearly came up with another pick six in the first half. He then nearly came up with another interception on the first drive of the third quarter. He's playing with a ton of confidence right now and his tackling has improved as well. He made a key tackle for a loss on Frank Gore in the fourth quarter.
- A brilliant pass breakup by A.J. Bouye, a guy who hadn't seen many reps in the defensive backfield in a number of weeks. He read Moncrief's route perfectly and then challenged the Colts wideout for the ball. Bouye nearly picked it off, but it was enough to force the Colts to have to punt with less than seven minutes left in the game.
- What can we say about Alfred Blue and the Texans offensive line? Let's start with Blue. He's been dealing with nagging injuries that kept him out of the New England game last week. But, he more than made up for his absence with a 107-yard rushing performance. He was decisive, ran behind his pads and silenced many of his more vocal critics. At least for today anyway.
- Blue's second effort on fourth and one on the team's 90-yard touchdown drive might have been the biggest play of the entire day. It was a day of big plays, but that one…those inches…actually an inch may have saved that win. Blue got that first down by the nose of the football. Bill O'Brien said afterward to me that he would've challenged the call if it had gone the other way. It didn't…barely…because of Blue's second effort.
- The offensive line didn't play the perfect game. It yielded three sacks on the day and one of them nearly resulted in a backbreaking sack fumble. Luckily, Derek Newton fell on the ball which allowed the Texans to punt, instead of having to play defense on a short field. That said, the interior opened holes throughout the game. 37 carries for 155 yards on a day when yards were extremely hard to register. However, starting the game with a backup quarterback, then having to protect the backup's backup the rest of the day, that quintet plus Kendall Lamm rebounded with the game it needed to play.
- When Bouye intercepted that last pass by Hasselbeck, it set off a celebration on the sideline that we haven't seen since the Cincinnati game. That was one heck of a night in Cincinnati but seeing Texans players and staff members that had never won in Lucas Oil Stadium or in Indianapolis, period, it was a sight I'll remember for a very long time. I'd like to think there are bigger wins out there, but to finally get that one, up in their building, for the division, facing all the adversity, etc…man, what more is there to say?
- Oh, victory formation in Indianapolis? Who'd have thunk it? Many didn't. But, when Marc Vandermeer made the call he's been waiting 13 years to make…"THE TEXANS ARE GOING TO BEAT THE COLTS IN INDIANAPOLIS!!"…I wasn't sure it was real but I saw it with my own eyes so I knew it happened. Oh, it happened alright.
Well, that's about all from Indianapolis. 1-13 never sounded so good, but it won't matter if this squad doesn't take care of business the next two weeks against Tennessee or Jacksonville.
The Texans faced the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 15.