Wide receiver Andre Johnson caught his eighth touchdown of the season on a six-yard pass. Despite Johnson's strong performance, the Texans fell to the Colts 38-15 in the RCA Dome.
Strong start: The Texans rode into the RCA Dome in Indianapolis on a two-game winning streak, including a 31-13 victory over the Broncos on national television.
"We were playing some pretty good football," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "We came in here expecting to continue to play well. We knew we were playing a great football team. We came out and looked like we wanted to do things right."
The Texans did get things right on the opening drive of the game. Quarterback Sage Rosenfels, who started his fourth game of the season, hit wideout Andre Johnson with an 18-yard pass on the first play. Rookie running back Darius Walker, who was starting his second consecutive game, rushed for 30 yards in the series, which ended with wide receiver Kevin Walter catching a 17-yard touchdown pass to put them team ahead 7-0.
The Texans' momentum stopped there.
In the team's second offensive series, guard Mike Brisiel committed a false start and the Texans couldn't convert on third-and-13. When the offense took the field for a third time, tight end Owen Daniels dropped a pass on third-and-four.
"The first drive went just as planned," said Kubiak, who scripts the first 15 to 20 plays of the game.
"On our second drive, we had a penalty and we were third-and-13. On our third drive, we dropped the ball on a big third down. Like I said, you miss two turns right there."
Those missed opportunities proved costly for the Texans, who did not score again until the final minute of the game.
"You have to execute every play," said Rosenfels, who threw three picks. "You can't drop passes. You can't throw interceptions. You can't have penalties because as soon as you get in a second-and-15 or even a second-and-12, that's exactly where they want you. They're so good with their zone defense that they make you check the ball down and you have to punt."
Defense sags: About the only bright spot in the Texans' defense was Mario Williams' sack of Peyton Manning in the second quarter. The defensive end took down the Colts' quarterback for a two-yard loss, giving Williams 14 sacks for the season. The 2006 No. 1 draft pick has recorded a sack in six consecutives games.
The rest of the defensive line struggled to get to Manning and the secondary got burned on long-yardage plays, allowing wideout Reggie Wayne to rack up 143 receiving yards.
"They got picked apart," Kubiak said. "That guy's (Peyton Manning) is amazing. He gets you into the right play. We knew we would struggle against them man-to-man wise, and we did. When he's got you in zone coverage, he's going to cut you up pretty good."
Kubiak had spent the week focusing the defense on its red zone play, hoping to hold the Colts to field goals. However, the defense was only able to hold the Colts to three on their first drive. After that, when the Colts got to the red zone, they just marched forward to score.
Defensive penalties did not help matters, especially those committed by defensive tackle Travis Johnson. The three-year veteran was called for unnecessary roughness in the second and third quarters, costing the team 15 yards on each play.
"He hurt his football team," Kubiak said. "He hurt them twice. I've got to go back and look at the plays in fairness to him. Regardless, he hurt his football team twice on the field. That's not going to happen. If it happens again, then someone else is going to play. He's not going to hurt his team."
Select highlights: Kubiak had trouble pointing out positives in the game, but he did manage to find three.
The first was the Walker's performance. The rookie, who started for an injured Ron Dayne, rushed for 66 yards, including a career-long run for 16 yards. Walker played the entire game and was the only Texan to record rushing yards.
Kubiak had planned to play Dayne in the second half, but thought putting the former Heisman Trophy winner on the turf could risk further injury to his ankle.
"I was hoping that Ronnie would play in the second half," Kubiak said. "Once we got through the first series of the second half, I didn't think it made a lot of sense. I think that, hopefully, Ronnie can finish up the season."
Number two was punter Matt Turk, who turned in one of his best performances of the season. Turk averaged 44.5 net yards on four punts and pinned the Colts inside the 10-yard line all each kick.
Finally, wide receiver André Davis came up with highlight moments on special teams. The kickoff returner averaged 27.5 yards on six returns.
"Our return game was very good. André (Davis) has become a heck of a returner, a kick returner," Kubiak said. "I thought our return game was excellent."
Odd and ends: Defensive tackle Tim Bulman, who moved up from the practice squad earlier in the week, got his first minutes as a professional. Bulman has impressed Kubiak all season with his work ethic, and the head coach thought the defensive tackle deserved playing time.
"I think the kid earned the right to go out there," Kubiak said. "He has been tremendous for us on our scout squad. I think it was a reward for him to go out there, and I like his fight."
Cornerback Fred Bennett forced the second fumble of his career.
The Texans made their last appearance in the RCA Dome Sunday. The Colts will move to a new facility, Lucas Oil Stadium, this summer.