INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts improved 8-4 on the year on Sunday with their 26-20 victory over the Houston Texans in their 2020 Week 13 matchup at NRG Stadium.
The game was a true tale of two halves; in the first half, both teams' offenses were clicking, and the Colts headed into the halftime break leading by four, 24-20. The second half was a completely different story, as defense was the name of the game; in fact, Indy's defense was the only unit to register any points over the final two quarters of the game, and that was thanks to a safety caused by defensive end Justin Houston, who sacked Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson Houston's end zone with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter.
In the end, however, the game came down to a big break for the Colts, as Watson, on the doorstep of leading the Texans to a potential go-ahead drive at the Indy 2-yard line with just more than a minute left in the game, couldn't handle a low snap from center Nick Martin; defensive tackle Grover Stewart rushed in and knocked the ball away from the quarterback, and linebacker Anthony Walker dove on it to seal the big road win for the Colts.
"Wow. 60-minute game," head coach Frank Reich said, "Really proud of the guys hanging in there. Great team win. We knew coming on the road against a division opponent who was hot, who could score some points, who has a special player at quarterback, it was going to require all three phases and we hung in there and did what we needed to do to win the game."
Here are the FIVE THINGS LEARNED from Sunday's win over the Texans:
» FIRST HALF FLURRY: The first two quarters of Sunday's game had all the makings of a classic AFC South shootout. Colts quarterback Philip Rivers was making throws all over the field, especially to T.Y. Hilton (more on that later), while rookie running back Jonathan Taylor also got into the mix on a huge 4th-and-4 play midway through the second quarter, as he went untouched for a 39-yard touchdown, his first-career receiving score. The Colts' 24 first-half points were their most in a game this season. Unfortunately for Indy, the Texans, despite missing their top wide receiver, Will Fuller V, who earlier in the week was suspended for six games, were mostly able to keep pace, led by quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was escaping all sorts of pressure to complete 15-of-22 first-half-passes for 214 yards and a rushing score. Indy went into halftime clinging to a 24-20 lead, as the Colts had 236 total yards to the Texans' 266.
» STIFLING SECOND HALF: The second half of last Sunday's game couldn't have been any different than the first half. This time it was both teams' defenses leading the way, and by the time it was all said and done, the Colts had outscored the Texans 2-0 over the final two quarters to earn a 26-20 road victory. Now, to be fair, the Indy offense did have plenty of chances to run away with the game, but some untimely penalties set up some tough situations, while Nyheim Hines was also stuffed on a 4th-and-1 attempt from the Houston 5-yard line with 6:50 left in the game; had the Colts converted that and turned it into a touchdown, it would've been a two-score game. In the end, though, it was the Texans making the blunder of all blunders, as Watson couldn't get a handle on center Nick Martin's low snap on 2nd and Goal from the 2-yard line with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter; defensive tackle Grover Stewart crashed in to ensure the ball squirted away from Watson's grasp, and linebacker Anthony Walker fell on it at the 7-yard line, allowing Rivers & Co. to kneel it out from there. The Colts had just 135 yards of offense in the second half to just 132 for the Texans, who had two turnovers and allowed three Watson sacks, including a safety by defensive end Justin Houston after the failed 4th-and-1 attempt.
» WE MISSED YA: If you need clear evidence of how impactful DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry are to the Colts' defense, or how much of a difference Jonathan Taylor can make for the Indy offense, look no further than last Sunday's game against the Texans. All three were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and missed the Colts' Week 12 matchup against the Tennessee Titans, and Indy struggled mightily in its 45-26 loss at Lucas Oil Stadium. Fast forward one week, and all three players have been moved back to the active roster and are playing huge roles in a big-time road win over the Texans. Defensively, the Colts allowed 449 yards of total offense, including 229 yards on the ground, against the Titans; against the Texans, the Colts allowed 398 yards of total offense, including just 90 on the ground. Buckner had four total tackles (two for a loss) with two sacks and three quarterback hits against the Texans, while Autry added a tackle for a loss. Taylor, meanwhile, picked up where he left off in Week 11 against the Green Bay Packers, when he had 90 rushing yards and 24 receiving yards, and carried it over to the Texans' game; he finished with 135 yards of total offense — 91 on the ground and 44 through the air — and his aforementioned 39-yard touchdown reception. Also making his return to the lineup last Sunday was center Ryan Kelly, who missed the Titans game with a neck injury.
» TYH STADIUM: T.Y. Hilton's dominance over the Texans — particularly in games played in Houston — continues on. Hilton last Sunday was catching passes left and right for the Colts, particularly in the first half, and finished with eight receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown, a 21-yard catch-and-run play that ended the Colts' first offensive drive of the day. In his career, Hilton now has tallied 98 receptions for 1,732 yards and 11 touchdowns against Houston in 18 career games, including one postseason contest; in 10 games played at NRG Stadium, Hilton is averaging 5.7 receptions and more than 114 receiving yards per game, and nearly one touchdown per contest; he now has five 100-yard receiving performances in Houston.
» NOTES OF INTEREST:
— With his first 22 yards, quarterback Philip Rivers reached 3,000 passing yards for the season and became the fifth player in NFL history to reach 3,000 passing yards in 15 seasons, joining Peyton Manning (16), Drew Brees (16), Tom Brady (18) and Brett Favre (18). He also joined Brett Favre and Drew Brees as the only players to do so in 15 consecutive seasons.
— With his first three tackles, linebacker Darius Leonard passed Jerrell Freeman (366) for the second-most tackles in a player's first three seasons in Colts history. Duane Bickett (398) holds the team record for the most tackles in a player's first three seasons.
Click here to check out more stats and notes from Sunday's win over the Texans, courtesy of Colts Communications.
Colts fans can catch the re-air of Sunday's Week 13 win over the Houston Texans on WTTV4.2 this Wednesday at 8pm presented by POWERHOME SOLAR.
See the best images from the Indianapolis Colts Week 13 victory over the Houston Texans.