By Shawn S. Lealos
The Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans met on Sunday Night Football and it was a huge game for both teams. The Texans were fighting to hold their slim lead in the AFC South while the Colts knew that a win would open the division for every team to have a chance. It ended up being as great of a game as AFC South fans could have hoped, with the Colts leading by two touchdowns with three minutes remaining but then losing in overtime to the Texans after a furious comeback.
It was also a shocking game. The Houston Texans heard their fans booing them for almost the entire game and many fans left early in the fourth quarter. Those fans missed one of the biggest comebacks for the Houston Texans franchise thanks to great play late from quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller. Here is a look at the Texans team grades for Week 6 of the 2016 NFL season.
The Houston Texans big free agent acquisition, quarterback Brock Osweiler, was struggling mightily throughout most of the game. He had not hit 200 yards passing yet and had thrown one interception and no touchdowns. Osweiler was also struggling to hit any receivers outside of DeAndre Hopkins in the game. However, something clicked in the last three minutes of the game. With just 2:37 remaining in the contest, Osweiler threw a touchdown to running back Lamar Miller, although it was Miller who did all the work on a 10-yard scramble-and-run after the catch. After that, Osweiler led his team on a 53-yard drive in just one minute to tie up the game.
On the final drives, the big thing to note about the Texans moving the ball was that Osweiler was finally looking for other receivers. On that first touchdown drive, Osweiler threw the ball to four different receivers and the second touchdown was after two huge passes to tight end C.J. Fiedorwicz. In overtime, it was a big-time 36-yard pass to Jalen Strong that set up the game-winning field goal.
Lamar Miller, another free agent acquisition this offseason, finally exploded for the Texans in only his second 100-yard game of the season. Miller finished with 149 yards rushing, 29 yards receiving, and two touchdowns in the game. Through three-and-a-half quarters, Miller was the only bright spot on this offense. After that, the entire team came to life.
The Houston Texans defense was expected to struggle without J.J. Watt after they lost him for the season. However, both Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney have stepped up in his absence. In this game, the two combined for 10 tackles, with Mercilus getting a sack and a quarterback hit on Andrew Luck while Clowney hit Luck twice and pressured him all game. As a team, the Texans sacked Luck three times, hit him six times, and forced one interception.
The Texans allowed Frank Gore to break the 100-yard rushing mark, the first time a Colts player hit triple digits rushing in almost four years, but that mark came in overtime. However, what really helped elevate this team is that they only allowed two touchdowns in the game and stopped the Colts twice in the final two minutes of regulation and then again in overtime. It was clutch play by the Houston Texans defense.
Special Teams: C
The Houston Texans could have won the game without going into overtime if not for a mistake by their kicker. Nick Novak hit both of his field goals, including the game winning kick, but he missed an extra point attempt earlier in the game. If not for that miss, the Texans could have won by a point after their final touchdown of regulation. Kick and punt returns were average and their punter, Shane Lechler, was solid, pinning the Colts behind the 20 twice.
The fans were booing the entire game because the Houston Texans didn’t seem like they wanted to win until the final three minutes of regulation. When head coach Bill O’Brien was interviewed before halftime, he admitted that he didn’t know what his team needed to do to come back and win this game. That was harsh but something had to have happened down the line because this team fired up when needed.
The Texans offense was flaccid through the first three quarters and the defense is the only thing that kept them in the game. The team deserves kudos for those final three drives but if Houston wants to win this year, they need to play that passionate through the entire game.
The win keeps the Houston Texans one game ahead of the Tennessee Titans, who also won this week, in the AFC South. The Indianapolis Colts now sit alone in last place in the division. However, next week is the biggest game of the season for Houston Texans’ quarterback Brock Osweiler. He was supposed to be the heir apparent for Peyton Manning in Denver but chose to leave the city for Houston. Next week, Osweiler returns to face the Denver Broncos, who dropped their second straight game on Thursday night.