With their backs against the wall, the Texans came away with a dramatic'Escape-from-Indy' performance to defeat the Colts and blast their wayinto the playoffs.
As with many of the Texans' wins, it came down to the wire. It's the Horseshoe, you knew it wasn't going to be easy.
Houston packed some heavy punches in the first half to go up 14-3. C.J. Stroud entered the prime-time party with a bang – throwing 75 yards to Nico Collins on the first Texans play from scrimmage to grab a 7-3 lead. The explosive score served notice that the Texans had come to win and would do whatever it takes to play next weekend.
The Colts shaved the lead to eight with a late first half field goal. But you were still feeling good at the break, knowing Stroud would get the ball first in the third quarter.
A 23-yard pass to Nico Collins opened the stanza. But Houston went backwards from there and had to punt. Then the men in royal blue woke up. Jonathan Taylor erupted for a 49-yard TD run that changed the game. Indy went for two and, all of a sudden, we were tied at 14.
Houston grabbed the lead back with a Ka'imi Fairbairn 51-yard field goal that followed a Matt Gay miss off the right upright from 57.
Gay re-tied the game with a short three-pointer, setting up the go-ahead drive.
On the march, Stroud was 7 for 7, finding Dalton Schultz four times and hitting Nico Collins with a 23-yard laser beam to set up first and goal. Devin Singletary ran it in from three yards and the world seemed right. But a missed extra point added plenty of stress to the ensuing Colts possession.
Jonathan Taylor had gone to locker room with an ankle injury then did his best Willis Reed impression, coming back into the game to help the Colts navigate their way down the field for an attempt to hijack the lead.
He was stopped on third and two from the 16. But on fourth and one, Gardner Minshew misconnected with reserve back Tyler Goodson and Houston got the ball back. After three runs and an intentional safety, the Texans killed the clock on a Colts 'Stanford Band' play off a free kick.
If the last Indy possession was a movie, the villainous Colts would have been trying to push the Texans off a cliff. But the men in Liberty White hung on and advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2019.
The win was the 10th of the year and gets DeMeco Ryans and C.J. Stroud into the post season in the first campaign in their roles. It's only the fifth time it's happened in the modern era with a rookie coach and QB getting their squad to the playoffs.
Now, it's tournament time. There's much healing and planning to do. The adrenaline and excitement are at a level we haven't seen in over a decade. And no matter what happens, this era is just getting started.