The Houston Texans fell 31-20 at home to the Indianapolis Colts in Head Coach DeMeco Ryans home debut. The Texans outgained the Colts 389 to 353 net yards on offense, but were 1-of-4 in the red zone while the Colts were 4-for-4 in redzone scoring.
"Defensively today, we weren't good enough," Ryans said. "If we want to be a good defense, it all starts up front -- stopping the run. We did not stop the run. We did not tackle well. Fundamental football wasn't good enough. If you want to win games in this league, we've got to play better. Third-down situational football, red zone, again, wasn't good enough. We gave them four ops in the red zone, and they scored on all four ops. For us, we have to eliminate teams scoring in the red zone. We have to own it and make them kick field goals. We didn't do that today."
Despite the loss, C.J. Stroud shined in his first home performance, completing 30-of-47 passes for 384 yards for two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 103.5 passer rating. Nico Collins caught a touchdown pass and finished with a career high 146 yards receiving on seven catches. Rookie WR Tank Dell had seven receptions for 72 yards and touchdown as well.
"Credit those guys, but I definitely think that we have what it takes to win games, and I definitely think, if we put it together earlier, then we won't be in a tough situation towards the back end," Stroud said.
Houston battled through injuries, with starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil and starting safeties Jimmie Ward and Jalen Pitre inactive for Sunday's game. S Eric Murray also left with a concussion during the game and did not return. S M.J. Stewart, who had been playing for Pitre, finished with a team high 10 tackles (six solo) and a forced fumble.
"We would love to have all of our guys back, but it's something you deal with," Ryans said. "It's next man up mentality, and that's an opportunity for whoever that is. That opportunity to go in the game is the opportunity to showcase what can you do to help our team win a game? So injuries are opportunities."
View the best photos from the Week 2 matchup between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts.
The Texans found themselves in a 14-0 deficit after turning over the ball on their first possession and two back-to-back touchdown drives by Indianapolis. Anthony Richardson rushed for two touchdowns on the Colts' first two possessions before leaving with a concussion in the second quarter. Gardner Minshew would finish the game at quarterback, completing 19-of-23 for 171 yards and one touchdown.
"It didn't affect our game plan much," Ryans said. "We know how they like to call the game. Short passes, that's what they continued to do. For us, we just have to be tighter in coverage, and we have to make tackles when that's called for us. When the play is called for us to make, we have to make them."
The Texans first offensive series ended in a strip sack for a fumble recovered by Colts DE Kwity Paye at the Houston 15-yard line. Richardson scored his second rushing touchdown on the next play. The Colts led 14-0 with 9:13 left in the first quarter.
Stroud came on the next possession, throwing a 28-yard pass to Nico Collins followed by a nine-yard completion to Tank Dell to get the Texans to the Colts 25-yard line. On fourth-and-1, Dare Ogunbowale's run extended the drive. C.J. Stroud threw his first career touchdown on an eight-yard pass to Collins. The Texans cut the Colts' lead in half after the 13-play, 68-yard scoring drive.
Minshew entered the game and promptly led two more touchdown drives. RB Zach Moss rushed for an 11-yard touchdown on the Colts third rushing touchdown of the day.
After the kickoff, Stroud threw a 24-yard pass to Collins to start the drive. On third-and-8, Robert Woods made a 19-yard catch along the sideline for a first down inside the redzone. Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a 29-yard field goal to end the nine-play, 64-yard drive. The Texans trailed 21-10 with 4:25 left in the second quarter.
The Colts responded with another scoring drive. After his pass to WR Josh Downs for a first down at the one-yard line, Minshew threw a one-yard touchdown pass to TE Kylen Granson with 10 seconds remaining in the half.
Houston headed into halftime, trailing 28-10.
Both teams added a field goal in the third quarter, but the Texans continued to chip away with 10 unanswered points heading into the fourth quarter. Dell's first touchdown was nullified by an offensive holding call and the Texans settled for a 36-yard field goal.
On the Texans' next possession, Stroud found Woods for a 25-yard catch-and-run followed by a 16-yard completion to TE Brevin Jordan. On the next play, Stroud connected with Dell for the rookie wide receiver's first career touchdown, a 23-yard catch. The Texans trailed 31-20 with 9:48 left in the game after the five-play, 67-yard drive that lasted just 1:41.
Houston's defense held the Colts to just one first down in the fourth quarter, despite a missed 51-yard field goal that set up the Indianapolis offense in Texans territory.
"Yeah, the defense, I think we kind of stepped up in the second half," Will Anderson said. "I feel like if we play in the second half that we played in the first half, you know, the game goes differently. But like we said, we got to come out with energy. We got to come out with a sense of urgency and never get behind the chains like that in the beginning anyway."
With the loss, the Texans fall to 0-2 on the season and will next head to Jacksonville on Sunday.