The Texans were primed for a win but dropped their sixth-straight game in a hard-fought 27-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
It was a bizarre night in which head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed at halftime and was rushed to a Houston-area hospital. As the team headed to the locker room, Kubiak went down. He was examined by team doctors and then taken in an ambulance, accompanied by family, to the hospital as a precaution. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips was acting head coach in Kubiak's absence.
"All of his vital signs are good," Phillips said after the game. "He did not have a heart attack, but they are still checking on everything with him. So that's the situation with him."
At the start of the game, Kubiak was on the sidelines watching as Case Keenum made his second NFL start. Under an open roof at Reliant Stadium, Keenum led the Texans offense in Battle Red jerseys in front of a Houston crowd. Andre Johnson appeared ageless as he caught three touchdown passes from a nearly perfect Keenum. Ben Tate battled through the entire game with four cracked ribs.
The defense sacked Andrew Luck four times on the night. Antonio Smith recorded two sacks while J.J. Watt and Joe Mays added one each. Watt also blocked a field goal by Adam Viniateri on the Colts' opening series, which was returned 37 yards by D.J. Swearinger. Following the blocked field goal, Indianapolis punted on its next four possessions. Adam Viniateri's lone 30-yarder would be the only score for the Colts.
In the end, it wasn't enough. After a dominant first half, the Texans lost momentum when Luck picked up speed and Houston's offense failed to find the endzone.
In home debut, Keenum threw three touchdown passes to Andre Johnson to give Houston a 21-3 lead heading into halftime. In the second half, Luck had three touchdowns of his own to receiver T.Y. Hilton while the Texans offense was only able to put up a field goal.
"We made all the big plays in the first half," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "They made the big plays in the second half."
In a tale of two halves, Houston's luck changed when Andrew Luck orchestrated one of his infamous fourth-quarter comebacks. Luck ended the game 18-of-40 for 271 yards passing and a passer rating of 92.8 but all three of his touchdowns came in the second half.
Randy Bullock struggled as he was 1-of-4 on field goal attempts. Bullock was successful from 43 yards but missed from 49, 43, and 55 yards. Bullock's final 55-yard attempt went wide left as time expired.
Despite Keenum putting up big numbers, going 20-of-34 for 350 yards passing, three touchdowns, and a 123.4 passer rating, the Texans dropped to 2-6 on the season. Houston's six-game losing streak ties its longest in franchise history.
"I thought our young quarterback, if you just look at the stats, the guy played outstanding," Phillips said. "I thought he played really well for us. Their quarterback hit 18 out of 40, but he hit the big plays at the right time. Randy struggled field goal kicking-wise and that ended up hurting us at the end of the ballgame."
The game was not without its share of adversity for Houston. In addition to Kubiak's departure, Arian Foster left early in the game with a lower back strain. Ben Tate with his four cracked ribs took over for Foster and rushed for 81 yards on 22 carries.
Keenum, in his second NFL start, found success with Johnson, who finished the game with 9 catches for 229 yards and the three scores.
Red zone troubles vanished for the Texans' offense as the Keenum and Johnson tandem connected on Houston's opening drive for a 62-yard score after just three plays. Keenum passed for 148 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Johnson before the end of the first quarter.
The defense had big plays of its own as J.J. Watt blocked the second field goal of his career. Watt got a hand on Adam Viniateri's attempt which was then returned by D.J. Swearinger. Later in the first quarter, Bryan Braman also had a partially blocked Colts punt which gave the Texans possession at their 43-yard line.
In the second quarter, the Texans defense came up with back-to-back sacks on Andrew Luck by Joe Mays and J.J. Watt. It was the first career sack for the inside linebacker Mays. Houston forced a three-and-out for a net loss of 13 yards on the drive.
Luck missed six-straight pass attempts and the Colts remained scoreless until 3:30 remaining in the second quarter. A pass interference call on Kareem Jackson helped the Colts move 46 yards and into field goal range. Viniateri's 30-yarder put the Colts on the board. Houston led 14-3.
Keenum would again connect with Johnson for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 0:34 remaining in the second quarter to give the Texans a 21-3 heading into halftime.
Andrew Luck and the Colts offense then chipped away at the Texans' 18-point lead in the second half.
Despite Reggie Wayne's absence, Luck connected with T.Y. Hilton for all three touchdowns which came on consecutive drives. Luck first found Hilton for a 10-yard score with 0:11 in the third quarter. Hilton's second touchdown was his longest, a 58-yard pass from Luck. Phillips vented his frustration on the play after the game.
"We were in zone," Phillips said. "There is no reason for us to get beat deep. That's really the bottom line."
Houston scored just three points after halftime. Keenum threw to five different receivers for 93 yards in the fourth quarter, but was unable to replicate the success he had with Johnson in the first half. On the first drive of the fourth quarter, Keenum's incomplete deep pass to DeVier Posey on third down would set up a 43-yard field goal. Bullock missed and the Texans came away empty after marching 55 yards downfield.
"We missed on a few third downs in the second half," Keenum said. "Even on the one that we kicked the field goal, and I missed (DeVier) Posey there in the end zone. Garrett (Graham) was coming on the shallow. Third and three, I probably should have hit him instead of trying to go for the big play. I think they made adjustments, and they obviously had a good plan there in the second half. We just didn't put enough points on the board."
The Colts scored 21 unanswered points and to gain their first lead over the Texans with 4:00 remaining in the game. After missing a two-point conversion in the third quarter, Luck successfully found tight end Coby Fleener to give the Colts a 27-24 win over the Texans.
"It's tough no matter what their record is," Luck said after the game. "They are still the division champs and we want to get where they are and bring it back to Indy. SO we know it's always going to be raucous and rowdy and a 60-minute fight, and they have a great football team, so I'm glad to get a win. I lost a playoff game in high school here my junior year so I've never won in this stadium, so I'm glad to finally do that."
-Johnson surpassed 12,000 yards receiving for his career with his sixth reception of the game. Johnson is tied with Torry Holt for the second fastest to reach 12,000 yards.
-Johnson had his first career three-touchdown game and it was the most receiving touchdowns in a game in franchise history.