INDIANAPOLIS — The boxscore will show an eight-play, 75-yard drive taking 3:47 off the clock that culminated in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to Zach Pascal.
But let’s take a closer look at the Indianapolis Colts’ Week 14 Drive of the Game, presented by Hays + Sons:
J.J. Watt has a penchant for drive-killing, game-changing plays.
And the Colts’ old arch nemesis thought he had earned another one a little more than midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s Colts-Texans showdown at NRG Stadium.
Houston had just cut the Indianapolis lead to three points, 17-14, after going on its own 16-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown run by Lamar Miller. But the Colts were starting to answer right back by putting together a potentially crippling drive against a Texans team that had been the recipient of lots of breaks throughout its nine-game win streak.
But after getting all the way to the Houston 38-yard line and moving the chains after a seven-yard run by Marlon Mack, the Colts were stopped dead in their tracks — temporarily.
On 1st and 10, the Texans sent a blitz, but Watt was able to do everything on his own, immediately getting by right tackle Braden Smith with a nifty swim move and powering past the helping Joe Haeg off the right edge to bring Luck down to the turf for a loss of eight yards.
Watt delivered his signature salute, and the NRG Stadium crowd was sent into a frenzy.
Now at the 46-yard line, the Colts were out of field goal range and had their backs against the wall. Punting it back to a talented Texans offense with momentum on its side? No way.
Perhaps in previous matchups, this Watt play would’ve been that kind of backbreaker; the type of play that can linger and take all the wind out of your sails.
Not this time, however.
On 2nd and 18, Luck made perhaps the most important play in Sunday’s game that nobody is talking about. Lined up in the shotgun, he faked the handoff to Nyheim Hines and immediately began taking a peek to his left towards his top target, T.Y. Hilton.
Feeling a little pressure coming from his back side, Luck started to work his way up into the pocket. By this time, Hilton, who easily got by cornerback Shareece Wright off the line of scrimmage, was open down the left sideline.
Luck continued running forward in the pocket and unleashed a picture-perfect throw to Hilton; the perfect arc on the pass was easily enough to get over the head of Wright and to the waiting hands of Hilton before safety Tyrann Mathieu could get over to help. Hilton ducked out of bounds at the 12-yard line — gain of 34 yards.
But the perfect throws — and the perfect route running — weren't over for the Colts.
On the very next play, Luck, again, lined up in the shotgun took the snap and, again, took a look to his left, where it was Pascal this time around.
Off the snap, with Wright giving the receiver some cushion, Pascal initially showed a quick five-yard in route — and Wright was all over it.
As soon as the cornerback’s momentum started carrying him forward, Pascal stuck his foot in the ground and headed for the end zone. Luck, again, delivered a perfect throw with a perfect arch, and Pascal had his second receiving touchdown of the season — and his second against the Texans.
The play gave the Colts all the cushion they’d need to hold off the Texans from there to not only snap their rival’s nine-game win streak, but to stay alive in the hunt for a spot in the postseason.