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Five Things Learned

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5 Things Learned: Colts vs. Texans, Week 13

The Colts shut out the Houston Texans, 31-0, on Sunday to improve to 7-6 on the season. Get inside the Colts' dominant victory with this week's installment of 5 Things Learned. 


1. Shutting out the Texans meant a lot to the Colts.

The Colts earned their first shutout since 2018 and their first road shutout since 1992 in dismantling the Texans, 31-0, on Sunday. A few things to note about how dominant the Colts' defense was in Week 13:

  • The Texans did not run a play inside the Colts' 39-yard line. The farthest Houston's offense made it was the Colts' 40-yard line – a fourth down play that did not result in a first down.
  • Only seven of the Texans' 50 plays (14 percent) were run inside Colts territory. Three of those came in garbage time with most of the Colts' starters on the sideline.
  • The first play the Texans ran in Colts territory came with 50 seconds left in the third quarter. The Colts had run 33 plays in Houston territory before the Texans ran their first in Indianapolis territory.
  • The Texans didn't complete a pass to a wide receiver until near the three-minute mark in the third quarter.
  • The 141 yards of total offense allowed by the Colts was the sixth-lowest since the team moved to Indianapolis in 1984.
  • The Texans averaged 2.8 yards per play, the lowest yards per play average a Colts opponent has had since the Bengals in 2014.

Shutouts don't happen by accident, and they don't happen just because an opponent has a suboptimal offense. The Colts' mentality was to dominate from start to finish, and on defense, they certainly accomplished that goal. Kenny Moore II picked off Tyrod Taylor on the Texans' first offensive play of the game; on Houston's last offensive play, Kemoko Turay sacked Davis Mills.

"Every time I ran out there, I just said, let's keep it going, don't back off and keep pressuring," linebacker Darius Leonard said. "And let's protect the goose egg."

2. Kenny Moore II's Pro Bowl resume grew stronger.

Moore is putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber season. But don't take it from me; take it from these folks:

Or how about Tom Brady?

"You got a great career going," Brady told Moore after Week 12's Bucs-Colts game, with "Hard Knocks" capturing the conversation. "You know what to do. I already seen it for the last four years."

Or head coach Frank Reich:

"I think Kenny Moore is a Pro Bowl player," Reich said. "I really do. I just think he's a difference maker. We think he's the best nickel in the league. He's a great corner when he's playing corner, and when he's playing nickel, he's great. He just understands the game, he makes plays and he's consistent."

Moore picked off Taylor on the first play of the game and forced a fumble to end the Texans' second drive of the game. He allowed just a 27.1 passer rating when Houston's quarterbacks threw his way on Sunday.

Moore has four interceptions (tied for a career high), 77 tackles (four shy of a career high), four tackles for a loss (tied for a career high), one forced fumble, one sack and seven pass break-ups through 13 games.

If Moore, an undrafted free agent in 2017 who was waived by the Patriots and claimed by the Colts after training camp, does earn a spot on the Pro Bowl roster for the first time in his career, he said it'd mean "everything" given where he came from.

"I think that's for anybody that haven't been on that platform before," Moore said. "I think it'll be pretty emotional for me in where I come from and starting in high school and going Division II and just beating all the odds."

3. T.Y. Hilton's leadership played a role last week.

Don't view T.Y. Hilton's statline – two catches for 22 yards – as a sign the veteran wide receiver didn't make an impact on Sunday's game. He absolutely impacted the Colts' performance as a team leader, with a juiced-up speech he gave Saturday cited by multiple players after the game as a driving force behind the 31-0 win.

"TY said it best on Saturday," Leonard said. "Good teams play down to the level of their competition, but great teams dominate the whole game. (We) wanted to come out and completely dominate."

"I think that motivated everybody," running back Nyheim Hines said. "He gave us a really passionate speech on Saturday. So I think we kind of drew off that and came out there and tried to handle business and get on them early." 

There's a reason why Hilton is a team captain – when he speaks, players listen. And his message was an important one for a Colts team that couldn't afford to overlook Houston with the bye week and massive games against the Patriots and Arizona Cardinals on the horizon.

See all the action at NRG Stadium as the Indianapolis Colts face the Houston Texans in Week 13.

4. The Colts stuck to the run game.

Jonathan Taylor tied a season high with 32 carries as the Colts kept pounding their ground game against a Texans defense that was selling out to stop it. Half of Taylor's 32 carries came with eight or more Texans defenders in the box, per Pro Football Focus.

But eventually, Reich was confident running the ball so much would wear down a Texans defense that didn't get many breaks thanks to the Colts' defense forcing so many three-and-outs and short, abbreviated drives.

"I think we just wore them down, and the fact that the defense was playing so well and just kept giving us opportunities," Reich said. "You know, can't underestimate that. When it's three and out and these turnovers, you can be more patient with the run game. You can be more patient with the run game when the defense is playing like that, and I think we just eventually wore them down."

Taylor leads the NFL with 241 carries, 1,348 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns, but is feeling "surprisingly good" heading into the bye week.

"That's just a testament to our training staff in there," Taylor said. "I am in there all the time, and those guys are taking care of me whether it's pre-hab or rehab, and then the coaches putting together great schemes. A lot of the runs, they are opening up like the Red Sea, so I am able to not get touched for a few yards."

5. The Colts will get a well-earned, extended break.

The Colts re-convened at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on Monday, but players are dismissed from Tuesday through Sunday and coaches will get Thursday and Friday off, too.

"Just tell them, 'hey, don't let your guard down. Be safe. Don't go crazy,'" Reich said of his message to his team about the bye week. "You know, we have a saying: not too high, not too low, a man of wisdom avoids all extremes, have some fun, enjoy yourself, get some rest and use good hygiene. Do you all those things. Be smart and do the right thing."

The hope is Colts players can recharge mentally and physically during the bye week and come back fresh for a make-or-break final four games.

"Everybody get their mind right, bodies right," Leonard said. "And just be ready to make sure you understand that when we come back, we got a point to prove and we got a goal that we're trying to reach."

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