Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
Thursday Night Football featured an AFC South rivalry game with the Indianapolis Colts traveling to the Houston Texans for their second game of this season. Both teams entered 6-4 and tied for first place in a tightly-contested division. In their last matchup, the Colts won 30-23, as quarterback Jacoby Brissett put up four touchdowns. The Colts previously beat the Jaguars 33-13, while the Texans look to rebound from a 7-41 loss to the Ravens. The game was tight throughout the night, but the Texans would pull out a final defensive stand to regain possession of the ball and run out the clock for a 20-17 win. With the win, the Texans take control of the AFC South at 7-4, at least for now, while the Colts drop to 6-5.
Colts Offense Struggles to Find Big Plays
Receiver T.Y. Hilton returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with a calf injury, hoping to add a deep receiving option for a Colts passing game that has struggled in recent weeks. Still, however, the Colts failed to find any plays for more than 20 yards from any phase of the offense. Brissett completed only one of his seven passes over 10 air yards, and 13 of his 16 total completions were within five air yards of the line of scrimmage or behind it. This resulted in an absolutely dismal average completed pass of two air yards. He finished the night with 16 completions out of 25 attempts for 129 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The run game was the driving force of the offense, with Jonathan Williams accounting for 104 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown, and Nyheim Hines adding 51 yards on his nine carries. The Colts maintained possession for longer than the Texans but failed to convert enough on third downs. It certainly didn’t help that Hilton had two sure completions dropped on third downs that likely would have changed the outcome of the game.
Texans Capitalize on Deep Ball Opportunities
Whereas Brissett was safe with the football, DeShaun Watson was more than willing to hold onto it while looking for big plays to be made. He was electric throwing the ball deep, connecting on four out of four passes thrown 30 air yards or deeper down field, two of which were for touchdowns. Within 10 air yards of the line of scrimmage, he completed 13 of 15 passes. Overall, Watson completed 19 of 30 passes for 298 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. The running game contributed with Carlos Hyde gaining 67 yards on 16 carries and Duke Johnson adding 22 yards on five carries, but clearly this team runs on the big-play abilities of Watson and his receivers. Still, the Texans were lucky to get away with a few mistakes. Watson threw an easy interception to give the Colts good field position in the first half, and the Texans also failed on a fourth-down conversion attempt on their first drive in the second half that seemed to be a dubious decision. Had the Colts been able to come up with a little more offensive production or a defensive stop at the end, the Texans might have spent the evening regretting those decisions rather than celebrating a win.