With just over seven minutes to go in regulation, the Indianapolis Colts were looking to improve to 3-3 and sit atop the AFC South. But, the Colts who have been phenomenal in the fourth quarter to this point in the season allowed an underachieving — and under-manned -Houston Texans offense to outscore them 17-0 to finish the game.
The Texans rattled off several chunk-yardage plays on first and second downs to begin this drive, but the Colts eventually had them where they wanted them as they finally forced the Brock Osweiler-led offense into a third-down situation. However, a short pass to Lamar Miller five yards short of the distance to gain proved to be the beginning of the end for the Colts.
Miller took a pass from Osweiler, initially shaking a couple of Colts defenders, then cut back against the field running by seven more and scooted into the end zone to shrink the Colts’ lead to 23-16 with just over two-and-a-half minutes left in the game. That one play — and even more so, the entire possession — epitomized what has been so frustrating for the Colts to this point in the season; poor tackling, failing to hold opposing offenses to short gains on first and second down, and letting comfortable leads slip away.
Previous to this Week 6 game in prime time, four of the Colts’ first five games had been decided by 6 points or less. And why should anyone believe that this one would be any different?
Additionally, another common theme from Indianapolis has been the inability to impose their will late in games. Running the ball a couple times to force Houston to spend their timeouts isn’t necessarily a failed approach, but when you throw in the second down sack one could argue that the Colts weren’t aggressive enough.
Pat McAfee, in turn, was forced to punt out of his own end zone, handing the Texans a short field to work with while the clock ticked under the two-minute warning. The Colts, then, continued their ways of allowing big games to replacement-level quarterbacks by giving up 52 yards in just three pass plays as the Texans knotted up the game at 23 and forced overtime in a game they were never legitimately in for the first three-and-a-half quarters.
After taking the opening kickoff in overtime, a Colts offense that had put together five drives of at least seven plays could only manage five plays before having to punt the ball back to an improving Texans offense. Despite the Texans starting at their own 33-yard line, the Colts’ defense sat back and allowed Osweiler to pick them apart with only field-goal position needed to put this one on ice, and that’s exactly what happened.
The same defense that allowed only 5.2 plays per drive in the first half allowed, statistically, the worst offense in the league to carve them up for 270 yards in the second half and overtime. To add to the gut-punch, the Colts’ dangerous offense was held to 175 total yards in that same time span.
The Colts have a ton of issues to work out, while the Texans — who were equally injured coming into Sunday Night Football — appear to be in the driver seat within the division in spite of their own shortcomings.