HOUSTON – The scoreboard read 23-9, in favor of the visitors, and the Colts were just minutes away from heading back to Indianapolis atop the division they've dominated for so long.
Slowly, and rather excruciatingly, that lead evaporated.
And after a few minutes of free football on Sunday night, the Colts were left looking up at the rest of the AFC South.
A two-touchdown lead with less than five minutes remaining for the Colts washed away in Houston.
For the sixth straight week, the Colts had their game go down to the wire. And for the fourth time this season, the Colts were left pondering the inability to close out a game they had firmly in their grasp.
"When you've got a lead, 14 points with 7 minutes to go, you've got to finish," Chuck Pagano said after the Colts fell to 0-2 in the division this season.
"We all know that. You've got to finish."
The Colts were in Houston on Sunday night with a chance to take the lead in the AFC South and earn a critical early season divisional victory away from home.
It's Colts versus Texans on Sunday Night Football.
Back in primetime, the Colts played arguably their best football of the season before things unraveled midway through the fourth quarter.
Leading 23-9 with 7:04 remaining, the Colts saw the Texans drive rather methodically, going 75 yards in 12 plays. A 10-yard touchdown reception by running back Lamar Miller came on a third-and-seven and cut the lead to seven.
A three-and-out would follow from the Colts and the game pressure was now squarely on the visiting sideline.
Houston tied the game just three players later. A final-minute drive from the Colts stalled out just past midfield.
For the fans that did stay inside NRG Stadium, free football was coming in a game that looked like it had been decided just a few minutes earlier.
The Colts won the coin toss in overtime, but could mange just one first down before having to punt.
Giving away one more opportunity proved costly for the visitors.
Brock Osweiler found Jaelen Strong down the sideline for a 33-yard gain and Nick Novak's chip-shot field goal from 33 yards out pushed Houston's lead in the division to two games over the Colts.
"You have the opportunity in this league, you have to put teams away," Andrew Luck said after the 26-23 loss.
"It's too hard in this league surviving your mistakes."
That was Pagano's message to his football team following the overtime defeat.
The Colts will now head back to Indy to prepare for three games before their bye week arrives.
Now sitting two games back in the AFC South, the Colts margin for error has shrunk considerably on a night they looked to be in the division driver seat.
"It's about having a killer instinct and finish it," Pagano said late on Sunday night.
"We've got to find a way to finish it off."