The Texans nine-game winning streak started in Indianapolis after beating the Colts by three points. Alas, the streak ended in Houston after losing to the Colts by three points. The win-loss symmetry typically pleases my OCD, but when the Texans are the losing side of the ledger, it stings significantly.
The Texans struggled, fought and eventually fell short in a 24-21 loss that ended a three game home stand. Before we move on to the New York Jets, here are my observations from the afternoon's proceedings.
1. The Texans didn't turn the ball over and forced an Andrew Luck interception. The Texans were undefeated this season when they won the turnover battle. They even won at Washington when they lost the turnover battle. But, today, even at +1 in turnover margin, they wound up on the losing side, unfortunately.
2. The game essentially came down to four consecutive Colts drives. Starting with 7:19 in the second quarter, the Colts went touchdown, touchdown, field goal and touchdown. Seven other drives, seven total first downs and just 122 yards. Those four drives, though, well, were not as successful and they told the story of this game.
3. The Texans finished 3-for-3 down in the red zone, scoring touchdowns every time but just couldn't find success on enough drives during the entire game.
4. The past two weeks at home, the Texans dominated on the ground, but similar to the first matchup with the Colts, the Texans finished over 50 yards less than their average on the ground. The Colts defense is as fast and physical as any unit that the Texans have faced and will face in the future. Their penetration up front caused issues all day long. Ironically, this is one of the first times that Alfred Blue AND Lamar Miller scored rushing touchdowns in the same game.
5. Andre Hal's interception ended a potential scoring drive for the Colts and at the time, I thought that would be a key turning point in the game. What it was, though, was just a delay in the Colts scoring. That said, it was great to see Hal continue to impact games again. He had a pass breakup on a blitz of Andrew Luck in the first quarter and then that interception in the second quarter.
6. Deshaun Watson's touchdown throw to DeAndre Hopkins was a LASER. If a defender had gotten a finger/hand on it, the ball would've broken that player's finger/hand. He rolled left and threw back across his body when he saw Hopkins and let fly with a 100-mph heater that hit Hopkins between the 1 and the 0 for the touchdown to close to 24-21.
7. The Texans three tight ends had an excellent day in the passing game. Ryan Griffin led the Texans in catches with five and yards (80). The big play that he made down the seam helped keep the Texans in shouting distance. Jordan Thomas had four catches for 31 yards and Jordan Akins had two catches for first downs for a total of 40 yards. Watson was 11-for-11 throwing to the tight ends on the day.
8. J.J. Watt nearly had a pick six early in the game. On the Colts first play of the second quarter with the Texans ahead 7-0, Andrew Luck looked to throw a quick screen to rookie Nyheim Hines to his right. Watt stuck his left hand out in the passing lane and knocked it away. If he were able to tip that pass to himself or get both hands on it, Watt would've been in the end zone in two steps. A 14-0 lead and a Watt touchdown? NRG Stadium would've exploded.
9. One of the key plays of the game was early in the fourth quarter. The Colts had 3rd and 10 on their own seven. A stop there and the Texans would've gotten great field position to potentially cut into the ten point lead. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck turned to his left to throw a wide receiver screen to receiver Chester Rogers. But, Whitney Mercilus jumped directly into the passing lane. Had Luck thrown the ball at that point, Whitney would've had the first interception of his career. Luck pulled it back down and let Rogers get clear. Then, he side armed one to Rogers who then made a couple of defenders miss and picked up...eleven yards and a first down. Deflating.
10. We're going to see T.Y. Hilton in our nightmares. After the game, he was asked…"This is the fourth time in seven trips that you've had more than 100 yards receiving against the Texans. What is it about playing Houston that you just seem to have had so much success?" T.Y. responded..."like everybody says this is my second home, but it feels good." That just stings.
The streak is over and it was great while it lasted. Now, it's time to get back to complementary football in all three phases. It was a rough day for a lot of teams, really good teams, throughout the league. The Patriots lost on the craziest play in the NFL in years. The Rams didn't score a touchdown in a loss to the Bears. The Steelers have lost three in a row, including yesterday to the Raiders. The defending champion Eagles gave up an eight minute drive in overtime in a loss at Dallas.
You know what happens but now it's important to see how this club responds. The last time it lost at home, it started a nine-game winning streak on the road the following week. So, it's time to bounce back.
See ya from New Jersey next week...or this week, really.
The Houston Texans have the best fans in the NFL. Thanks to the fans for coming to NRG Stadium and cheering on your home team.