INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts and Texans have been paired in the AFC South since 2002, with the Colts owning a 17-4 record that has been built largely on remaining undefeated at home in the series.
The series has had competitive games, and Houston has taken three of the past five meetings. The Texans topped the Colts in Reliant Stadium two games ago, 29-17.
With both clubs in the playoffs this year for the first time, the Colts are lodged in the fifth seed, while Houston is trying to secure the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Only twice have Colts-Texans games been broadcast in prime-time, those being in Indianapolis in 2010 and 2011.
The first game came when Indianapolis was on the way to nailing down its seventh AFC South crown. The second came when Houston was cruising to the playoffs, while Indianapolis was enduring a sobering 2-14 season.
Colts 30, Texans 17 – November 1, 2010 – Following a bye week and playing under the bright lights of Monday Night Football, the Colts proved they were still the dominant team in the AFC South.
After a lackluster first drive from Indianapolis that included three incompletions by quarterback Peyton Manning, the Colts went to work midway through the first quarter.
Manning led the offense on a seven-play, 78-yard drive that was capped off when tight end Jacob Tamme hauled in a two-yard touchdown on a third-and-goal.
Two “chunk” plays happened on the drive. Running back Mike Hart zipped for 35 yards on the possession’s first play, and Manning hit Tamme for 26 yards three plays before teaming with him for the score.
The rest of the first quarter between the 4-2 teams remained scoreless before the Indianapolis defense created some points of its own early in the second period.
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden picked Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and returned the interception 25 yards for a touchdown, giving the Colts a 14-0 advantage 16 seconds into the period.
The teams traded long field goals by their respective kickers over the rest of the quarter, and the Colts took a 17-3 lead into halftime.
Indianapolis would strike with its opening drive of the second half. In padding their double-digit lead, the Colts drove 70 yards in 10 plays.
Manning, who threw for a career-high 4,700 yards on the season, was vintage on this drive. He accounted for all but one yard on the march, hitting five passes to four different receivers.
Houston brought it back to a two-possession game on the following drive with Schaub connecting with wide receiver Andre Johnson on a 28-yard touchdown. The play made the score 24-10 with 7:40 left in the third quarter.
The Colts did their best to ice the game by going on a methodical march. Kicker
The Texans cut the lead to 10 early in the fourth quarter when running back Arian Foster found paydirt from six yards out.
Once again, the Colts had an answer, though, with Vinatieri hitting his third field goal on the evening. The 36-yarder gave the Colts a 30-17 lead with 7:23 to play.
Any hope for a late comeback by the Texans was ended when the Colts forced a three-and-out on the next possession, followed by a
For the game, the Colts dominated the time of possession (36:25-23:35) while taking sole possession of the AFC South at 5-2.
Manning finished the night 26-of-45 for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns. With Manning and center Jeff Saturday in the starting lineup for the 161st time together, they became the leading quarterback-center duo in NFL history, passing Minnesota’s Fran Tarkenton and Mick Tingelhoff.
It was Manning’s 199th game with the club, a total moving into second-place behind John Unitas (206), whom he would pass later in the year on the way to his franchise-record total of 208.
Manning’s scoring pass to Wayne was the duo’s 64th, moving them past Unitas and Raymond Berry (63), Hall-of-Famers both, into second-place in franchise history behind the 128 connections he had with Marvin Harrison. It was the 57th game with a scoring reception for Wayne, moving past Berry (56) into second behind Harrison (90).
The Colts had no turnovers on Monday night, marking the 27th straight win in regular-season games which Indianapolis did not give up the ball.
Colts 19, Texans 16 – December 22, 2011 – After capturing their first win of 2011 four days earlier, the Colts were hoping for a second one in a condensed week during a bitter season.
That task was made even more difficult when the division-leading Texans came into Lucas Oil Stadium and created havoc on the first play from scrimmage.
Texans linebacker Brian Cushing forced a Dan Orlovsky fumble and Brooks Reed jumped on the loose ball. Two plays later, Arian Foster found the end zone from nine yards out to open the scoring not even one minute into the action.
The following four drives were relatively quiet before Vinatieri got the Colts on the board with a 23-yard field goal thanks to a punt return by Pierre Garcon.
Houston kicker Neil Rackers answered with a 44-yard field goal to close out the first quarter with the Texans leading, 10-3.
It definitely was not the last time the kickers got a chance to make an impact.
The Colts added a 32-yard field goal in the second quarter to cut the halftime lead to 10-6 before the teams traded field goals in the third quarter.
An early fourth-quarter drive for the Colts once again ended in a Vinatieri field goal, and the Colts were back within striking distance, down 13-12.
With 6:48 remaining, the Texans ate up 4:52 off the clock before another Rackers field goal made the score 16-12 with 1:56 left. A red zone stop by the Colts defense helped set up what soon occurred.
Orlovsky and the offense went back to work, moving 76 yards over 11 plays. With the Colts on the one-yard line and no timeouts remaining, a fade pass by Orlovsky found the outstretched hands of Wayne to give the Colts a 19-16 lead with 19 seconds remaining.
The touchdown occurred in the same spot of the north end zone where Wayne, who was a pending free agent, had caught so many memorable touchdowns for the Colts.
Wayne finished the game with eight catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Orlovsky won his second consecutive start thanks to a 23-of-41 performance for 244 yards and a touchdown.
The Colts defense forced the Texans into a one-for-10 conversion rate on third downs (compared to the Colts converting seven-of-17).
Indianapolis would hold on for the victory and end its season winning two of the last three games.