The Indianapolis Colts traveled to Houston last night to take on the Texans in prime time. They were going to be without Andrew Luck for the second straight game and the Colts offense was going to be facing a better defense than they saw in Jacksonville. Many Colts fans were worried, myself included, because with Luck out that would mean Matt Hasselbeck would have to start in his place. Hasselbeck had been fighting sickness all week and it landed him in the hospital where they had to pump fluids through an IV into him. He didn’t practice, he was sick, he is 40-years-old and he just played an overtime game that made all of our hearts race. Those are things to worry about when he was going to be starting yet again.
We would all be sorry for thinking that.
The Colts didn’t exactly “handle” the Texans last night, but they did have a game plan that was executed almost flawlessly. The offense was clicking on all cylinders and the defense came to stop Arian Foster. The offense scored 13 points before the Texans were able to respond. However going into the half the most famous play in football was brought out, the Hail Mary. The Colts had 8 people dropping back to stop this ball from getting to a Texans player in the end zone. Brian Hoyer launched it and we all saw the cluster of Colts defensive players in the end zone. Going to be intercepted or at least knocked down right? WRONG! Greg Toler came barreling in and pushed defenders away from rookie wide receiver Jaelen Strong which freed him up to out-jump everyone and score at the end of the first half. Mike Adams (who had 2 interceptions) was just watching the ball and not being mindful that there is a wide receiver standing right in front of him. It was possibly the worst defensive effort I have seen on one particular play in quite some time. Nevertheless, the Colts kept the lead into halftime.
When the second half started the Colts came out guns blazing. Fan favorite Griff Whalen started it off with a great kickoff return almost to mid-field, giving Hasselbeck and his crew a very short field to work with. Three plays later Frank Gore trotted into the end zone. After that, Brian Hoyer tried to make this game a shootout with Hasselbeck, but that wasn’t going to happen.
The Colts defensive backfield played like they had lead boots on for the majority of the night. Could it have been the short week and players playing with injuries? Could it have been that they just weren’t in the game for the most part? Who knows? One thing is for certain though, DeAndre Hopkins made them all look like high school freshmen out there. Hoyer found Hopkins often wide open as well as Arian Foster in the flats. The Colts defensive backs seemed to be playing prevent defense more than they were the man coverage we’re used to seeing. Vontae Davis looked so slow and Toler was still knocking off the rust from missing the first four games of the season. If the botched Hail Mary wasn’t enough, Strong got the best of Indy’s DB’s again in the second half when he just ran through the defenses and was left wide open for his second touchdown of the game, season, and career. That’s right, his first two catches in the NFL were for touchdowns. The DB’s lost track of where Strong was on the 11-yard touchdown and turned just in time to see Strong bringing in the lofted pass from Hoyer. Not all was bad though, as the DB’s came through when they were needed. Erik Walden was able to lay a big hit on Hoyer in the fourth quarter, which left a pass floating in the air that made for an easy interception for Mike Adams.
The “old men” showed up against the Texans. I had said that Colts fans needed to watch out for Andre Johnson. Returning back to his former team for the first time and possibly being very frustrated with how things were going for him with the Colts that he was more than likely looking to have a big game. He came through in a big way. Gore was two yards shy of a 100 yard game, something the Colts haven’t had since Vick Ballard‘s rookie season. Hasselbeck did more than just manage the game, he dictated it. He was finding everyone and not taking stupid chances with the ball. He was Superman last night for sure. Mike Adams rounded off the “old men” group with two interceptions on the night as well.
The Colts played a complete game for the first time this season. The only things that really need to still be worked on are third down conversions (they were 3/11 on the night) and shoring up the defensive backfield. The defensive front has been pretty solid all season long. The run hasn’t been the problem it has been in previous years. The Colts have to make sure they have the DB’s in line before next Sunday night.
After this Texans game the Colts have a two game lead in the AFC South and ten days to rest and prepare for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. I’m very proud of how this team has progressed through the first five weeks. This game plan they have had the last two games is where the Colts need to live throughout the rest of the season. Would they rather see Luck throw the ball 40 times for 400 yards and lose or see see him toss it 28 times for 250 yards and get the win? It’s up to them to figure that one out.
Offensive Game Balls: Hasselbeck, Gore, and Johnson
Defensive Game Balls: David Parry, Henry Anderson and Mike Adams