INDIANAPOLIS –It had the feeling of previous comebacks but in the fourth quarter Sunday, the Colts were not able to make the plays that have propelled them to eight one-possession victories this season.
Houston running back Arian Foster came alive in the second half and finished the day with 27 rushes for 165 yards to lead the Texans to a 29-17 victory over the visiting Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts overcame a blocked punt for a touchdown in the first half and cut a 10-point halftime deficit to 23-17 late in the third quarter.
Indianapolis would get the ball back down by six points but a three-and-out was then followed by Houston kicker Shayne Graham's fourth field goal on the afternoon, this one from 46 yards out with 8:30 remaining.
Down two scores, the Colts could not muster up the same magic they had two weeks earlier in Detroit.
Even with a battered Colts offensive line, rookie running back Vick Ballard had a career-high 105 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Ballard was particularly effective on the third-quarter touchdown drive that ended with a Dwayne Allen eight-yard score. It was Ballard's five carries for 60 yards that set up Allen's third touchdown of the season.
In the first half, the Colts were able to take some much needed momentum into intermission with rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton hauling in a 61-yard touchdown. The Hilton touchdown came when the speedster got behind the Texans secondary, and the score cut the lead to 20-10 with just more than a minute to go in the first half.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri booted a 26-yard field goal in the first half which put him over the 100-point mark for the 15th time in his distinguished career.
The Texans defense had five sacks on the afternoon, including three from the AFC's leading sacker J.J. Watt.
Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson had 11 receptions for 151 yards and a first-quarter touchdown.
Indianapolis (9-5) now can only make the playoffs as a Wild Card entrant. The victory handed Houston its second straight AFC South title. The Colts travel to Kansas City for a 1 p.m. kickoff next Sunday.
FIRST QUARTER (11:47 remaining)
A 52-yard reception by Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson helped set up the first score of the game as Houston kicker Shayne Graham connected on a 29-yard field goal. On the second play from scrimmage, Johnson hauled in the deep pass after a well-executed play-action. The Colts defense forced the field goal after limiting Houston running back Arian Foster to eight yards on three straight carries in the red zone.
Texans 3, Colts 0
FIRST QUARTER (4:51 remaining)
After forcing a three-and-out, Houston took advantage of good field position and drove 57 yards in 13 plays with Johnson scoring on a three-yard touchdown reception on third-and-goal. The Texans converted four third downs earlier in the drive thanks in part to spectacular catches by tight end Owen Daniels and Johnson. Graham added the extra point. Texans 10, Colts 0
SECOND QUARTER (6:12 remaining)
Kicker Adam Vinatieri got the Colts on the board with a 26-yard field goal. The Indianapolis defense gave the Colts another short field starting inside the Houston 40-yard line. Running back Vick Ballard rushed for 15 and 10 yards to start the drive. Two incompletions ended a touchdown chance and brought on Vinatieri. Ballard ended the drive with eight carries for 46 yards. Vinateiri now has 101 points, which gives him 15 seasons with at least 100 points (one shy of the NFL record). Texans 10, Colts 3
SECOND QUARTER (3:50 remaining)
The Colts defense appeared to force another three-and-out but back-to-back penalties on Indianapolis allowed Houston's drive to continue and eventually end with a Graham field goal from 35 yards out. Houston rookie wide receiver DeVier Posey had the big play of the drive with a 36-yard reception to move the Texans into Colts territory. Texans 13, Colts 3
SECOND QUARTER (1:46 remaining)
Houston linebacker Bryan Braman blocked a Pat McAfee punt and had an eight-yard return for a touchdown. Lining up on the left side of the Texans line, Braman made a swim move to the right and was able to complete the scoop and score. Texans 20, Colts 3
SECOND QUARTER (1:07 remaining)
Needing a score to reverse momentum heading into halftime, Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton got behind the Texans secondary for a 61-yard touchdown. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck stepped up in the pocket to his left and lofted a perfect pass to the wide-open Hilton. Vinatieri added the extra point. Texans 20, Colts 10
THIRD QUARTER (7:33 remaining)
The Colts defense continued to hold strong in the red zone as Graham kicked his third field goal of the day, this one from 27 yards out. After a sluggish first half, Texans running back Arian Foster got going on the drive with a 31-yard rush on the first offensive play of the second half. Colts outside linebacker Dwight Freeney recorded his third sack of the season late in the drive to force the field goal.Texans 23, Colts 10
THIRD QUARTER (2:32 remaining)
Ballard produced 60 rushing yards on an 80-yard scoring drive, leading to fellow rookie Dwayne Allen catching an eight-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown came after Ballard was the focal point for nearly the entire drive. Ballard now has 103 rushing yards, which is a season-high. Colts rookies gained every yard on the drive. Vinatieri hit the extra point. Texans 23, Colts 17
FOURTH QUARTER (8:30 remaining)
Houston benefited from a short field and Graham knocked home a 46-yard field goal, his fourth make in five tries on the game. The Texans defense forced a three-and-out and then a penalty following Pat McAfee's punt placed Houston in Colts territory to begin the drive. Texans 26, Colts 17
FOURTH QUARTER (1:05 remaining)
Trying to cap off the AFC South clinching victory, Houston was able to milk the clock and end the drive with a 33-yard field goal by Graham. Foster has 27 carries for 165 rushing yards for the game. The field goal was Graham's fifth on the afternoon in six attempts. Texans 29, Colts 17