Bill O’Brien talked all week about needing to play better than the Texans did against Kansas City and Atlanta if they were going to keep winning. Not all observers took note that Houston overcame penalties and turnovers to defeat the Chiefs and they’d have to clean that up.
At Indianapolis, the Texans suffered too many yellow flags and gave up too much on third down early, leading to a zero-margin-for-error second half situation and they couldn’t get over the hump. They eventually straightened out the penalty situation and started to get some key stops, after surrendering two third-quarter scoring drives.
The offense heated up too. But two fourth-quarter interceptions did them in. The two second-half TDs came on quick drives on which Deshaun Watson and friends were flying down the field. However, two of the last three possessions ended in turnovers, sandwiching a three and out deep in their territory that saw O’Brien take an intentional safety, helping create a better defensive field position after the ensuing free kick.
It worked for a moment. After stopping the Colts on their end, Houston got the ball and moved it close to midfield before a pass intended for Keke Coutee was juggled and plucked away by Darius Leonard, enabling the Colts to drain the clock.
It was a tough pill to swallow. The Texans came in knowing that they needed to stop or least slow down Indy’s running game. And they did. But the Colts responded with over three hundred passing yards and four TD passes. If you just looked at the numbers you might think Andrew Luck had been playing.
The Texans offense did move the ball in the first half but had only three field goals to show for it. The first three red-zone possessions netted only field goals for the number one red zone touchdown scoring team in the NFL, heading into the day.
The defense didn’t find its rhythm until the fourth quarter. Injuries were popping up on both sides of the ball and it became a pressure cooker which the Texans did not survive.
There’s a long way to go and the Colts took round one of the season series. They also served notice that they are a balanced team with plenty of playmaking at quarterback in Jacoby Brissett.
The Raiders are next. This is a team that defeated the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. And before you think that losing to the Packers takes some of their juice away, remember that every week in the NFL is a monumental challenge and nothing should ever be taken for granted.
A bounce-back performance requires an extremely productive and creative week of practice as the injuries are piling up and you don’t want to see the losses do the same.