THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS CHANGE MOMENTUM—When the Colts took over at their own 22-yard line with 4:18 remaining in the third quarter, a third-down conversion was nowhere to be found on the stat sheet.
It was that late third quarter drive, which included three third-down conversions, which changed momentum thanks to some up-tempo offense.
“Being down what we were we didn’t want to totally abandon the run game but we felt like the offensive guys did a great job Pep (Hamilton) did a great job changing the tempo a little bit. Did a little bit more up tempo and give our guys a chance to make some plays,” Chuck Pagano said after the game.
The drive ended with
From there the Colts defense would dominate a final quarter, something the unit has done all season long, and the offense continued to make plays.
Sunday night’s contest came with a desperate Texans team looking to stay in the AFC South race despite five straight losses.
All week long, the Colts talked about needing to go through Houston in order to re-capture the South.
The route might not have been ideal on Sunday night but the result is all that matters.
“We knew that coming in that they were going to make plays and we were going to get their best punch,” T.Y. Hilton said. “We took their best punch in the first half and we responded coming out throwing our punches in the second half.”
DEFENSE ONCE AGAIN SHINES IN FOURTH QUARTER—It was a first half to forget for the Colts defense on Sunday night.
Houston’s Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson was making big play after big play and the Colts defense was clearly missing a beat up secondary.
Slowly but surely, things begin to change in the second half.
On five Houston possessions in the second half, the Colts allowed just three points which allowed for yet another comeback victory.
“It’s football, anything happens. That’s why you have halftime and we were able to come in here and make corrections,” Colts safety
“(Johnson) was able to make some plays in the first half, good player, hats off to them, they made some plays. Second half though, we came out and made plays and were able to get off the field.”
After Hilton’s 58-yard touchdown catch brought the Colts to within five points with 9:54 remaining, the defense put together arguably its two best drives of the night.
Houston gained just 37 yards on nine plays in back-to-back offensive possessions.
The Colts held Johnson to two second-half catches and for the fifth time this season, did not allow any points in the fourth quarter.
“We’re a resilient team. We just go out and play for 60 minutes,” inside linebacker
“It’s definitely a rivalry type game. They definitely have what we want. They owned the South last year, so you know we want it. Regardless of what the score is, we’re going to keep playing and keep fighting until it’s over.”
WIDE RECEIVERS RESPOND – The Colts’ leading receiver
The injured Wayne spent time with the wide receivers Saturday night and Sunday morning with a message that they needed to execute on every play and be ready for any chance to contribute.
He saw the unit respond with an effort that provided spark and production in the Colts’ 27-24 victory at Houston.
Wayne had been Luck’s primary target on 253-of-851 career attempts prior to Houston, and between 29 and 31 percent of Luck’s career completions, attempts and yards were attributed to him prior to Sunday.
While eight first-half throws to wide outs produced only two receptions for 12 yards, the efforts warmed in the second half when Luck posted 215 of his 271 yards.
Hilton was the main target, ending with his eighth 100-yard game and scoring receptions that covered 10, 58 and nine yards, the last two coming in a 5:46 fourth-quarter span that rallied the Colts from a 12-point deficit to a three-point lead.
Hilton has a 42.3 average on his 10 career scoring receptions, five have come against the Texans. Three of those have come from beyond 50 yards (58, 61, 70), giving him a 41.6 average against the divisional foe.
“T.Y. (Hilton) is T.Y. T.Y. can make plays,” said Pagano. “Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, and he came through for us. The quarterback put (it) on him, and he finished the plays.”
Hilton, who became the 11th Colts player with a three-TD game receiving also set up the club’s first score with a 34-yard punt return. It was a punt that had a 4.6 hang time.
The field goal that put Indianapolis on the board came after Heyward-Bey was interfered with on a deep route. The 46-yard penalty saved a touchdown and put the Colts at the Houston 7 4:53 before the half.
Heyward-Bey had an 11-yard reception on a field goal drive to open the second half, then missed the rest of the contest after a hit to the head on a slant route two plays before Hilton’s second TD.
Whalen’s nine targets were second to Hilton’s 12 for the course of the game. Whalen was the recipient of a personal foul by Ed Reed on the club’s first march of the second half, two plays before Heyward-Bey’s injury.
Whalen had a nine-yard reception in the no-huddle mode on the club’s TD drive late in the third quarter, and he had a 17-yard reception over the middle in traffic on third-and-10 from the Colts’ 48 on the game-winning drive.
“They did a great job. We talked about that it would have to be by committee. We know we have players here,” said Chuck Pagano. “They just haven’t had the same amount of opportunities as the other guys. Griff made some crucial (plays, a) big third-down catch on the last drive. They all contributed. They all did a great job.”