HOUSTON — Perhaps Darius Butler said it best last week, after the Indianapolis Colts' one-point road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
"We're not in the business of moral victories," the veteran safety said. "It's not about being close. We have to find a way to win."
So on Sunday against the Houston Texans, again on the road, the Colts did just that, digging deep to find a way to make one more play than their division rivals at NRG Stadium and claiming a 20-14 victory that not only snapped a three-game losing streak, but also served as the team's first road win and its first win in AFC South Division play in 2017.
That one extra play on Sunday belonged to outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard, who stepped up in the moment that has eluded the Colts so many times throughout the first half of the season. His strip sack of Texans quarterback Tom Savage on the last play of the game, one that began merely seven yards from a potential game-winning score, pushed the Colts over the hump.
"I just got there grinding man," Sheard said after the game. "Just fighting through. Our boys held up coverage and Tom (Savage) had to hold the ball and I eventually got there."
Barkevious Mingo scooped up the fumble, his second consecutive week with a recovery, as time expired to seal a victory in which all three facets of the game contributed.
"Those guys competed their tails off," head coach Chuck Pagano said after the win. "That's what we talked about at halftime is we've got to close. We've got to finish, we've got to close the thing out. They did a tremendous job as a football team today."
Those halftime chats have been common this season, as the Colts have jumped to a lead after two quarters now in seven of their nine games. But, prior to Sunday, Indianapolis had been able to win just two of those contests.
The Colts found themselves in that same scenario again in last week's 24-23 loss to the Bengals, in which Indianapolis led 13-10 at halftime — and 23-17 with about seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter — but just couldn't find a way to shut the door, or punch back to re-take the lead in two different opportunities down the stretch.
Compared to that loss at Cincinnati, the Houston game became the tale of two Sundays, and hopefully, for the Colts, the tale of two distinct halves of the season, especially after getting that elusive road win — and, no less, within the division.
The Indy defense continued to get a solid, swarming performance to help bottle up one of the best wide receiver duos in the league, keeping the Texans' offense out of the end zone until the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
You want special teams? Kicker Adam Vinatieri was his reliable self, making kicks from 22 and 53 yards, respectively, and earning eight total points on the day.
And quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw for more than 300 yards in a passing attack that saw six different Colts receivers catch balls, including No. 1 wideout T.Y. Hilton, who had five receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon.
"We played well today," Brissett said in answering a question about the offense, but one that fits well for the entire team.
"We played well. We've got a lot more things to clean up that a lot of people didn't see probably. But, it's a step in the right direction."