When Texans return man Keith Mumphery was tackled by special teams star Winston Guy at the Texans 10-yard line near the end of the third quarter, I remember thinking that's a long way to go with…
...the team's fourth quarterback of the season on the field
...an injured starting receiver
…no touchdowns in 25 straight drives
Luckily, the Texans offense didn't see it that way. Ninety yards? No problem.
There have been some drives this season that I'll remember for a while. The one in Cincinnati that led to DeAndre Hopkins' touchdown catch is memorable. But, down four points, 90 yards to take the lead with Brandon Weeden at the helm?
This one takes the cake. The drive of the game was a doozy: 11 plays, 90 yards and a touchdown connection between two guys that didn't even know each other when these two teams had played last. Here are the key plays.
1st and 10
11 personnel, empty set
Offensive coordinator George Godsey started Weeden with a simple slant route to DeAndre Hopkins. Colts corner Vontae Davis was on him like a cheap suit, which if you watched the game at home, you heard what DeAndre thought about Davis' physical coverage.
Result: Eight-yard gain
3rd and 2
The Texans won this third down play with a simple adjustment coming out of the huddle. Davis had been shadowing Hopkins for much of the game. Wherever DeAndre would go, Davis would follow. So, on this third down play…
...Hopkins aligned in the slot and Nate Washington aligned as the number one. The Colts didn't move Davis inside. Instead, they moved Darius Butler inside on Hopkins. That put Butler one-on-one on Hopkins as the Texans star ran up the field and faded to the sideline.
The Colts only rushed four. The Texans offensive line formed a wall around Weeden, who delivered a dime down the sideline to Hopkins. Hopkins made the catch for an enormous first down.
Result: 28-yard gain
3rd and 11
The Colts have shown a ton of pressure this season in third-and-long passing situations. That's exactly what their defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky, dialed up on this play.
The Colts' defensive backs showed off coverage but as the ball was snapped, they sent Dwight Lowery on a safety blitz from the single receiver side. This was where Brandon Weeden really showed off his football IQ.
Hopkins worked to the area that Lowery vacated and Weeden saw the blitz and knew immediately where he wanted to go with the ball as Lowery sprinted after him. Weeden delivered a laser to Hopkins. Hopkins held on with Davis draped all over him for a 10-yard gain, one yard shy of the first down.
Result: 10-yard gain
4th and 1
The Texans ran lead zone and it looked at first glance like the play was blown up. In fact, take a look at this picture.
Blue was well short of the first down marker, but…
...look where he finished. Nothing but individual second effort by the second-year running back. It was THAT close.
Result: FIRST DOWN!
1st and 10
22 personnel (Kendall Lamm at tight end)
Just after the measurement, the Texans came out in a heavy run set on first down. But, the Texans ran play action and caught the Colts scrambling. Ryan Griffin crossed underneath all of the fast flow Colts players and ran a deep crossing route. Lowery recognized it late, flew up out of control and struck Griffin well before the Texan tight end had a chance to make the catch.
Result: Defensive pass interference, first down
1st and 10
The Texans ran a dart play as Blue followed Pro Bowl tackle Duane Brown over the right side for a significant six-yard gain, staying on schedule with a key first-down gain.
Result: Six-yard gain.
3rd and 1
Just prior to this play, Colts defensive tackle David Parry was gesturing to the crowd to get loud and as he did, with his back to the huddle, another defender ran on the field and into the Colts huddle. Parry never saw him come on the field because he was trying to get the crowd amped up. That put 12 men on the field. Parry realized he wasn't supposed to be on the field after the Colts broke the huddle.
The line judge to my side noticed it immediately and threw the flag. I saw it right away and nearly screamed at Marc Vandermeer in his ear..."THE COLTS HAD 12 GUYS ON THE FIELD!!!" Parry was that 12th guy.
Result: Five-yard penalty and a Texans first down.
Since that wasn't an actual play…THIS was play No. 11. Ironic, no? Considering the result? Think about it.
1st and 10
After a Texans timeout, Godsey dialed up his best play call of the day. He put Strong and Hopkins into the boundary and Blue as the single back.
Just prior to the snap, Strong yo-yo'd across the formation, starting to cross the formation, then returning to the left side. The Texans have run outside zone all year long and it looked from the Texans sideline like it was Blue to the left. But…
...Weeden pulled the ball back as Strong crossed. Griffin ran off the safety to the back of the end zone. Because the Texans had two tight ends on the field, the Colts were forced to put D'Qwell Jackson in coverage on the number two receiver to that side. Playing the run, Jackson was a step or two slow reading the bootleg.
That was Strong. Jackson was late. Weeden threw on time. Strong caught it and hit the juice. He sprinted for the pylon.
That set off a celebration. I jumped around like a mad idiot and you'll definitely see that this week with our Hidden Moments video. But, it was an outstanding play call, executed brilliantly by two guys that were inactive together a few weeks ago. That touchdown clinched the organization's first win in Indianapolis in Texans history.
Weeden to Strong. Eleven plays in the making.