The Texans’ luck ran out while the Colts’ Andrew Luck threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns as the Colts beat the Texans 21-7 to advance to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs Saturday at NRG Stadium.
The Texans had won 11 games with a shaky offensive line and a porous defensive secondary, but their luck ran out as the Colts stormed down the field on their first series, going 75 yards in nine plays. Seven of the nine plays were passes, with three going to Texans’ killer T.Y. Hilton for 12, 13, and 38 yards respectively. Eric Ebron scored the touchdown on a 6-yard pass from Luck.
“The first drive was huge. And yeah, when the plays were scripted, those plays were going to T.Y. We always like getting T.Y. involved early. We took that shot early. Sometimes we don’t always take that shot as early as we took that shot, but just felt good about it. Felt like it was the right thing to do and just had a lot of confidence in it. When T.Y. gets out and gets going, that gets us all going,” Colts’ Head Coach Frank Reich said.
After the Texans went three and out, the Colts drove 74 yards in nine plays. This time, they ran the ball seven of the nine plays, with Marlon Mack gaining 39 yards and scoring on a 2-yard run, to make the score 14-0 with 4:03 to go in the first quarter.
“We had confidence in our run game. We know, and Frank (Reich) has preached this, in any football game whether it’s playoff or not, you need to control the line of scrimmage. And by no means was it perfect, but man the positive run yards we got were great,” Luck said. “It’s not easy to run the ball on that defense, and it’s a really good defense, a lot of good players. We made the most of it. Proud of Marlon (Mack). Proud of all of the guys. Proud of the guys up front.”
In the second quarter, the Colts went on a 65-yard, seven-play drive ending in an 18-yard scoring pass from Luck to Dontrelle Inman to make the halftime score 21-0. Meanwhile, the Texans could only generate 117 yards in the half, 36 on the ground and 81 through the air.
The Texans finally scored with 10:57 to go in the game as Keke Coutee caught a 6-yard pass from Deshaun Watson. The Texans attempted to rally but an 11-play drive ended at the Colts’ 24 yard line as the Texans could not convert on a fourth down and 10 play, and the Colts ran out the clock.
For the game, Luck completed 19 of 32 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Hilton caught five passes for 85 yards and Marlon Mack rushed 24 times for 148 yards.
For the Texans, Watson completed 29 of 49 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown. Watson was sacked three times in the game, and an NFL high 65 times during the season. Watson also rushed eight times for 76 yards. Coutee had 11 receptions for 235 yards.
“Give the Colts a lot of credit. They came out better than we did. Frank (Reich) did a good job, had his team ready to go. They converted some third downs. Before you know it, we were down 14-0. We missed a third down, our first third down of the game, then they got the ball back, went up 14-0. That just changes your whole offensive game plan. You’re almost in somewhat of a two-minute mode at that point in time, because you got to play catch-up. Give the Colts credit all the way around. They did a better job than we did, obviously,” Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien said.
Despite the disappointing loss, the Texans did have a successful season winning 11 of their last 13 regular season games. J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins were voted to the Associated Press All Pro team, with Hopkins getting the most votes for an offensive player. Watt led the American Football Conference with 16 sacks, and the NFL with seven forced fumbles.
Watson was the first player in NFL history to record 4,000 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns, 500 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in a single season.
O’Brien is optimistic about next season.
“I think that this organization has a very bright future. We have a great young quarterback. We’ve got a lot of really great guys in the locker room. I told the team that nothing that happened today doesn’t change my feelings about this team. These guys work hard. They love to play. They have a passion for the game. We just didn’t get it done today. I think there is a bright future for the organization when you have the players we have here,” O’Brien said.