HOUSTON – Gardner Minshew tagged in for Anthony Richardson and did exactly what the Colts envisioned when he signed as a free agent this spring.
Minshew efficiently operated the Colts' offense in place of Richardson – who exited the game with a concussion – and, alongside running back Zack Moss, boosted the Colts to a 31-20 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium. The win was the first as head coach for Shane Steichen.
Richardson rushed for two touchdowns and completed six of 10 passes for 56 yards before entering the concussion protocol early in the second quarter. He was later ruled out of the game, setting the stage for Minshew to pick apart the Texans' defense the rest of the afternoon.
Colts center Ryan Kelly left Sunday's game with a concussion as well.
Minshew completed 19 of 23 passes (83 percent) for 171 yards, highlighted by a 43-yard strike to rookie tight end Will Mallory and a pass that resulted in tight end Kylen Granson's first career touchdown. The fifth-year quarterback completed 11 of 13 passes for 114 yards with a touchdown and a passer rating of 128.8 in the first half to help swell the Colts' lead to 28-10 after two quarters.
Moss helped matters in his 2023 debut, too. The physical, tough-to-tackle back rushed 18 times for 88 yards with an 11-yard touchdown; he did not play in the Colts' season opener due to a forearm injury sustained in training camp. On Minshew's first drive, Moss rushed four times for 30 yards, including that 11-yard scoring dash.
On defense, the Colts shut down Houston's run game and sacked 2023 No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud six times, including a strip-sack tag-teamed by defensive ends Samson Ebukam and Dayo Odeyingbo that was recovered by defensive end Kwity Paye and led to Richardson's second rushing score. Stroud threw for over 300 yards with two touchdowns, while Texans top running back Dameon Pierce was held to 31 yards on 15 carries (2.1 yards/rush).
When the Colts signed Minshew, they believed he could excel either as a starter or a backup supporting a rookie. Minshew and Richardson grew a close relationship during training camp and were each other's biggest supporters while rotating between the first-team offense early in camp; when Richardson was named the team's starter for the 2023 season, Minshew flipped the switch to helping the rookie in any way he could while preparing to play if needed.
On Sunday in Houston, Minshew was needed, and he delivered.
View highlights from the Colts' matchup versus the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on September 17.