Skip to main content

Big Play Breakdown: Texans defeat Colts to earn a playoff spot


As I start to find the right words to type directly in front of me, I'm flashing back through all the big plays in the most memorable regular season finale in team history. The Texans roared ahead, then roared back and then held on for a magical 23-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts for the second year in a row at Lucas Oil Stadium. Let's take a look at the biggest of the Big plays in my Big Play Breakdown and the BIGGEST happened on the first offensive play of the game.

1st Quarter - Texans Ball

9:15 remaining - first Texans Play of the game

-25 yard line

Colts leading 3-0

First play of the game. The first play of the game is planned so far in advance, that's what I love so much about this play. OC Bobby Slowik and the offensive staff knew what they wanted earlier in the week and went and TOOK IT. The Texans put three tight ends on the field and put all of them to the right side of the field with WR Nico Collins the lone X receiver to the opposite side. On the snap, QB C.J. Stroud gave a quick fake to RB Devin Singletary and then dropped DEEP in the pocket. It was a two man route as Dalton Schultz was MAULED trying to cross the middle of the field. It appeared the Colts were in a Quarter/Quarter/Half look. So, when Nico took off down the middle of the field on the post route, he was essentially man-to-man with rookie CB Juju Brents. Colts S Nick Cross, who should've helped Brents, had his eyes on Schultz and squatted in the middle of the field. That was C.J.'s read and Stroud knew he could go over the top…DEEP and he LAUNCHED one for the heavens. Collins had Brents by two steps, snatched the bomb and sauntered into the end zone for a stake-in-the ground TD to start the game. What an absolute gem to start the game!

1st Quarter - Colts Ball

8:58 remaining

-23 yard line

2nd and ten

Texans ahead 7-3

The Texans don't make a habit of blitzing often but they dialed one up on second down that was just beau-ti-FUL. The Colts came out in empty with QB Gardner Minshew all alone in the backfield. Three pass catchers lined up in a bunch to the right with two WR to the left of the formation. The Texans came out in nickel with LB Blake Cashman mugging in the A gap. Cashman did an awesome job of engaging center Ryan Kelly to occupy him from helping the left side of the OL. Cashman then backed out of the blitz and Christian Harris blitzed from the right side B gap. Because Cashman forced Kelly to help on him inside and then dropped, Harris had a free run at Minshew. He wrapped up the Colts QB for the Texans only sack of the night. Harris' sack also was the one that put this defense over the top - no Texans team had as many sacks in a season as the 2023 team. Wow!

2nd Quarter - Texans Ball

2:00 remaining

+2 yard line

2nd and goal

Texans ahead 7-3

The Texans put two tight ends in the game (12 personnel, of course, depending on how you want to classify Andrew Beck). Either way, Brevin Jordan, WR John Metchie III and Andrew Beck lined up in a loose bunch to the right of the formation. QB C.J. Stroud was in the shotgun with Devin Singletary to his right side. Brevin stayed in to block DE Kwity Paye and did a GREAT job on him. The route itself was seemingly pretty simple. WR John Metchie III ran a shallow route from right to left and LB Zaire Franklin ran with him. Motor ran a flat route and TWO Colts ran with him. That left Beck, who ran a simple backline of the end zone route, WIDE FREAKING OPEN! Stroud saw the routes develop and saw the two Colts jump Motor. He then calmly threw to Beck for a key touchdown right before the end of the half.

4th Quarter - Texans Ball

9:42 remaining 

-46 yard line

2nd and 16

Tie ballgame 17-17

The Texans came out in 11 personnel in a 2x2 set to each side. Stroud dropped to throw as the Colts were attempting to match routes. Nothing was readily available so Stroud started to scramble to the left before getting cut off by a Colts rusher. He then spun back to the pocket and tried to avoid former Texans DE Jake Martin. The Colts rusher started to close in and C.J. LAUNCHED one in my direction. The thing about it was that he put enough air under that he allowed Nico to cross all the way to the other side of the field. Essentially, Stroud gave Nico a chance. I'm not certain that Stroud saw Nico and could've just been throwing it away, but I was standing right in line and could see that Nico was on his way in that direction. He then laid out and made the 15-yard catch for a key first down.

4th Quarter - Texans Ball - same drive

6:38 remaining

+3 yard line

1st and goal

Tie ballgame 17-17

Time for Duo. I can't tell you how many times I've seen the Texans get inside the five yard line in my ten years on the sideline and NOT pound it in. But, that didn't happen on first and goal after Nico's 2nd huge catch on the go-ahead drive. The Texans put 13 personnel on the field - three tight ends and decided to run right at the bully. LT Laremy Tunsil and LG Juice Scruggs LIFTED DT DeForest Buckner out of the hole. But, Motor did a GREAT job of jump cutting in between two Colts who had gotten penetration. C Michael Deiter stayed on the Colts LB just long enough, before he was leg whipped, to allow Singletary a decent sized crease to the right side. Motor slithered right on through for the game winning TD.

What a run.

What a night!

I'm still buzzing, my goodness. Time for the playoffs, my friends. Bet you didn't think that was happening after week two. But, it's real and it's spectacular. Let's GO!

Related Content