Just like that, just like last season, two season opening losses are erased. The Indianapolis Colts win three in a row despite Matt Hasselbeck and not Andrew Luck starting at quarterback, winning another division game. This time the Houston Texans were on the other side, but it didn’t matter if Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett were at quarterback, they’re both bad, and couldn’t stop a 27-20 loss.
Hasselbeck has been in the NFL before the Texans even existed. It’s easy to forget, but he was a very good quarterback for quite a few years on a good Seahawks team, even going to the Super Bowl once. Now he’s Andrew Luck’s backup, but for the second straight week he has taken the Colts to victory, reminding people that even at 40 with very little playing time over the last few years he still has plenty to give.
Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes, both of them to former Texans player, Andre Johnson. Johnson isn’t just a former Texan. He is probably the greatest player in the history of the franchise, but he didn’t like the direction they were going in over the last two years, and he probably knew what he was talking about. He finished with 6 receptions for 77 yards and the two TDs, including the one in the fourth quarter with 10:28 to put the Colts back up by 10 and pretty much seal the deal.
Frank Gore also had a good game. Not just his touchdown in the third quarter that gave the Colts a 20-10 lead, but overall his performance in churning out yards (finishing with 98 on 22 carries) while trying to break through the middle. He knew what he was doing, and ended up rushing for 73 yards up the middle against a team that’s the second worst in the NFL when it comes to protecting against running right through the middle of the defensive line.
The Texans weren’t out of the game completely. Ryan Mallett wasn’t too bad (7-of-10 for 50 yards and an interception that wasn’t his fault) before an illegal hit took him out of the game in the second quarter. Brian Hoyer came in, sparked things back to life and although Mallett was healthy again, he was left on the sidelines. Hoyer threw an interception as well, but he also threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns to Jaelen Strong, while DeAndre Hopkins finished with 169 yards. Arian Foster didn’t get much done running the ball (41 yards on 19 carries), but he had 77 yards on 9 receptions. It just all came a bit too late, without being able to slow down the Colts when it was most important.
J.J. Watt didn’t record a sack and had a frustrating day. It is overall a frustrating season for him. If it wasn’t for a desperation throw by Hoyer at the end of the half that resulted in Strong’s touchdown, it probably would have been a blowout. The Texans have fallen to 1-4, and it’s not just their quarterbacks. The defense is far from where it should be, and hopes of winning a weak AFC South are quickly fading away, fearing this might turn into another 2013. The Colts? They like finding out they can go on and look decent even without Andrew Luck.