A force of nature can’t beat an entire team on his own. It was another great game for J.J. Watt, but less so for the Houston Texans, not doing enough early on to slow down Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, coming away with a 33-28 victory, their fourth win in a row.
The Colts spent all their ammunition in the first quarter, walking away with a 24-0 lead, yet it was enough. Despite the difficulty to protect Luck, who was sacked three times, intercepted once, fumbled the ball once and hit at least five more times and taken to the ground, the Colts managed to hang on in the second half thanks to great defense and especially mistakes and turnovers by the Texans, who fall to 3-3 and continue to fluctuate between the exciting defense led by their pass rush and their mediocre and sometimes awful play by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Luck had his fourth consecutive 300 passing yards game, finishing with 370, completing 25 of his 44 passes, three of them for touchdowns. After Adam Vinatieri gave the Colts a 3-0 lead early on, an onside kick put the Colts 10-0 up, scoring a touchdown on the next play after recovering the ball from their trick play, as Trent Richardson, putting abysmal average numbers again (2.4 yards per carry) ran five yards for the touchdown.
That was followed by two touchdown passes from Luck to Bradshaw and Coby Fleener, while the Texans waited until midway through the second quarter in order to get their first first down of the game, leading also to their first points. Andrew Luck being intercepted helped the Texans make a game of it with an Arian Foster touchdown, but deep into the third quarter, when Luck completed a 33-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton for the touchdown, it looked like the Texans weren’t going to bounce back.
J.J. Watt kept them in the game. He finished with two sacks and four quarterback hits. He sacked Andrew Luck and picked up the loose ball to recover the fumble 45 yards and score his third touchdown of the season, giving the Texans plenty of time to get over a five point deficit. But each time they had the ball, something bad happened: Andre Johnson fumbled the ball, and on their last chance Ryan Fitzpatrick, managing not to throw an interception, was sacked and lost the fumble. From that turnover there was no return.
So while Watt continues to expand his reputation as a one man wrecking crew on defense, the Texans aren’t getting much or enough from their passing game. Their secondary, when it is tested, leaves them too exposed in the back as well. Arian Foster had another big game, rushing for 109 yards on 20 carries for two touchdowns, but it’s clearly not enough when there’s such a huge deficit to overcome.
For the Colts, the defense is what kept the win in their hands, improving to 4-2 and taking the lead in the division. You can finally start to see the type of defense that we envisioned a long time ago to go out there and do that week in and week out. We realized with the recent history of Thursday night games, teams who are going on the road are struggling, and we didn’t want to do that. We were lucky enough to get off on that fast start. It takes focus, and you almost have to trick yourself into it.
T.Y. Hilton had a new career record with 223 receiving yards on nine receptions, including one touchdown. Luck struggled getting Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks involved, while the running game was stagnant as usual, carrying the ball only 93 yards on 35 carries, averaging 2.7 per rush. With that kind of production from Richardson and Bradshaw, it’s no wonder the Colts found it so difficult to close out a game they had in their grasp from the first moment they stepped on the field.