Colts 19, Texans 16

Reggie Wayne followed the script Thursday night.

And just like his previous 11 seasons in Indianapolis, he had it
down.

Wayne made one of his trademark moves to outmaneuver a Houston
defensive back with 19 seconds left, freeing himself for a 1-yard
touchdown catch that gave the Colts a stunning 19-16 victory over
AFC South champion Houston. The five-time Pro Bowler celebrated by
flinging his hands into the air, pointing toward the fans he loves
and hugging his teammates before heading to the Colts’ locker room
for possibly the final time.

”I said if this is going to be the last game, I want to go out
with a bang. It was great,” Wayne said. ”It was a great feeling
to go out. Hopefully, I’ll be back but you never know.”

Wayne, whose contract is up after the season, certainly made a
strong case to return with the Colts in 2012.

The five-time Pro Bowler finished with eight catches for 106
yards, the biggest, of course, giving Indianapolis (2-13) a second
win in five days. It was Wayne’s third 100-yard day of the season
and put the Colts’ No. 2 all-time receiver in position to match
another franchise record with eight straight 1,000-yard
seasons.

Indy’s suddenly strong finish could jeopardize the Colts’
stronghold on the No. 1 overall draft pick, having tied the
league’s other two-win teams — St. Louis and Minnesota.

But Wayne and his teammates could care less about that chase.
They wanted a win, and some of them wanted to win for teammates
such as Wayne, Robert Mathis and Jeff Saturday, who were
cornerstones of one of the league’s model franchises. All of them
have expiring contracts.

”I was kind of in my hotel room thinking today and kind of know
it’s the last home game of the season here and there’s question
marks about what can happen in this future, and I was thinking if
it ever got to the point in the game where somebody needed to make
a play, it wasn’t probably going to go anywhere but (Wayne),”
quarterback Dan Orlovsky said. ”I think he deserved that
opportunity.”

Orlovsky finished 23 of 41 for 244 yards with the one touchdown
and won his second straight after losing his first nine NFL starts.
Even sweeter, he beat the team he played for the past two
seasons.

For Houston, it was a bitter reminder that they hadn’t
completely swung the balance of power in the AFC South.

Having already clinched the franchise’s first playoff berth and
still playing for a first-round bye, the Texans (10-5) seemed
poised for a playoff tuneup in Indianapolis.

Instead, they looked anything but playoff-ready.

Houston settled for two field goals in the red zone, didn’t
convert a third down until getting a lucky bounce late in the
fourth quarter, its running game was stymied late and the defense
helped the Colts with three penalties on the decisive drive.

”The last two were absolutely unnecessary on my part,” rookie
defensive end J.J. Watt said after being called for two of the
penalties. ”That’s on me. I can’t do that. I can’t hurt our
football team like that.”

Houston is now 0-10 in Indianapolis and hasn’t scored more than
20 points in a game since T.J. Yates took over as the starting
quarterback.

Yates was solid, 13 of 16 for 132 yards with a rating of 101.0,
and Arian Foster had a big day rushing 23 times for 158 yards.

But when the Texans had to sustain drives or punch it into the
end zone, they squandered away scoring chances.

”We make one play offensively at the end, the game’s over,”
coach Gary Kubiak said. ”We make one stop at the end, the game’s
over.”

At the start, the game certainly looked as if it would be a
repeat of the Texans’ 34-7 season-opening blowout when Brian
Cushing beat the Colts blockers on the game’s first play, sacking
Orlovsky and stripping the ball. Foster ran for 8 yards on the next
play, then scored on a 9-yard burst off the left side to give
Houston a 7-0 lead.

The teams traded five field goals over the next 58 minutes, but
the Colts never had the lead.

Then somehow Orlovsky got rolling. He connected with Pierre
Garcon for 11 yards and Jacob Tamme for 10. After a 3-yard
completion to Donald Brown, Wayne caught a 34-yard pass on
third-and-7 to keep the drive alive with 51 seconds left. Houston’s
three penalties moved the ball to the Houston 1, and on
first-and-goal, Orlovsky lobbed the pass to Wayne, who hauled it in
for the momentous catch.

”It’s big,” Wayne said. ”For one thing, not knowing what my
future’s going to be, just wanting to get a win, couldn’t get
anything better than this.”

NOTES: Before the game, Colts owner Jim Irsay told NFL Network
that if Peyton Manning plays next year, it will be in Indianapolis.
… Wayne also moved past Rod Smith for No. 18 on the NFL’s career
receptions list. Smith finished with 849. Wayne now has 854. …
Houston’s four-game winning streak came to an end. … Adam
Vinatieri missed a 42-yard field goal just before halftime, ending
his streak of 33 consecutive field goals made at Lucas Oil
Stadium.