This certainly can’t be the script the Texans were hoping to follow into the playoffs.
Two weeks after locking up their first AFC South title and the franchise’s first-ever playoff berth, the Texans are suddenly taking a two-game losing streak into the final game of the regular season after being stunned 19-16 by the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Texans (10-5) are fast losing any hope off home field advantage during the playoffs while the Colts (2-13) have now won two straight and fast losing their grip on the chance to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck No.1 overall in next spring’s NFL Draft.
Thursday night’s game will likely be remembered for the defensive meltdowns on the Colts 78-yard game-winning drive in the final two minutes. Rookie defensive end J.J. Watt was flagged for illegal use of the hands and then a roughing the passer call and safety Glover Quin was flagged for pass interference to set up Dan Orlovsky’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne to seal the game with 24 seconds left.
But this game was lost on the offensive side of the football where Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison went conservative with rookie quarterback T.J. Yates in his fourth career start. After Yates threw two costly interceptions during last week’s win against Carolina, the game-plan Thursday night downplayed the deep ball to the detriment of the offense.
The Texans never pretended to try to stretch the field which made Yates and the rest of the offense easy targets. Yates completed just 13 of 16 passes for 132 yards with no interception but also no touchdown passes on the night.
Running back Arian Foster, meanwhile, had a huge game with 158 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries, but the Texans had trouble sustaining drives after becoming predictable to the Colts defense. The Texans were horrendous on third downs for the second straight week, going 1 for 10 against the Colts.
After Foster scored on a nine-yard rushing touchdown run with 14:11 left in the first quarter, the Texans couldn’t get into the end zone again. They had to settle for Neil Rackers field goals of 44, 35 and 31 yards while going 1 for 3 during red zone opportunities.
But for more than 3/4ths of the game that seemed more than good enough because the Colts were able to move the ball on the Texans defense but couldn’t score touchdowns. The Colts trailed the entire game but managed to keep it close with four field goals by Adam Vinatieri.
But they finally got a touchdown when the needed it most and that was at the end.
The Texans came into Thursday night’s game as the decisive favorites over AFC South nemesis and with their best chance to break their nine-year hex in Indianapolis. Instead, they left still having never won at Indianapolis and now needing a win next Sunday when Tennessee comes to town or risk limping into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak.