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'No one panicked:' How Gardner Minshew stepped in for Anthony Richardson, pushed Colts to Week 2 win over Texans

Gardner Minshew tagged in for an injured Anthony Richardson in the second quarter and helped propel the Colts to a 31-20 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium.  

HOUSTON – In the wake of the Colts' 31-20 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium, something general manager Chris Ballard said this summer comes to mind.

"Every time Gardner has been asked to play," Ballard said, "he's played really good football."

The Colts asked Minshew to play on Sunday after Anthony Richardson was taken into the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. And, as the team expected he would:

He played really good football.

"No one panicked," wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., said, "because we know what Gardner can do."

Minshew completed 19 of 23 passes (83 percent) for 174 yards with a touchdown and engineered scoring drives on his first three possessions behind center. The Colts' lead ballooned to 21 points midway through the third quarter, and Minshew didn't do anything to breathe life into Houston's comeback efforts: He wasn't sacked and didn't turn the ball over.

"He's just a great player, great veteran guy," Steichen said. "He works, he prepares like he's been the starter but also does a heck of a job of helping Anthony throughout the week. So for him to go in there and do what he did was pretty good."

The balance Minshew is able to strike between preparing to step in at a moment's notice while supporting Richardson however he can is something the Colts do not take for granted. Not every backup quarterback possesses in-depth knowledge of his offense while being able to successfully step in at a moment's notice, and also do that while being a valuable sounding board for a young quarterback.

Minshew can do it all – even after a week of practice in which he didn't get any work with the first-team offense. And it not only benefits Richardson's development, but can lead to games like we saw Sunday in Houston.

"He knows this offense in and out," Pittman said. "He knows the looks and the reads. And he just prepares so well every single week. I really mean — he is like a coach. He literally knows everything. It's kind of crazy. The way that he prepares, it definitely shows that he's ready any time."

Minshew picked apart the Texans' defense by taking what was there and throwing on time, which allowed him to convert a number of key third downs on a drive late in the second quarter. With three minutes left, Minshew connected with wide receiver Josh Downs to convert a third-and-four with a 12-yard gain; just after the two-minute warning, he hit Pittman for an eight-yard gain on third-and-three.

With 1:12 left in the half, he zipped a pass to tight end Will Mallory for six yards on third-and-three, and then he hit one of his most important throws of the game: An 11-yard strike to Downs on third-and-seven at the Texans' 15-yard line with just over 30 seconds left.

Minshew found tight end Kylen Granson for a touchdown on the next play, pushing the Colts' lead to 28-10 while rapper Paul Wall made a special appearance during Houston's halftime show.

"He commands that huddle when you're in there," Mallory said. "He knows everything. He's a coach on the field. That's what he is, and he's a playmaker so you feel comfortable with him in there too. He's going to make plays and we're going to get that W either way."

The Colts were on a roll with Richardson setting the tone in the first quarter – the rookie was in command of the offense and rushed for a pair of touchdowns, and both sides of the ball could feel the impact he had.

But not much changed when Minshew entered the game. The offense was mostly the same and the vibes were still good.

Though they were a little more chill.

"He's one of the chillest dudes you'll ever meet," Pittman said. "For him, I kind of get a California vibe mixed with like a Midwest vibe (Minshew is a Mississippi native). He's just so chill. He's just the ultimate chill dude.

"He's prepared for everything. Composed, calm. He never gets too high, never gets too low. He's just been a rock for us and we know that we can count on him whenever called upon."

View highlights from the Colts' matchup versus the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on September 17.

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