Texans clinch AFC South with 29-17 win over Colts

The Indianapolis Colts came to Houston hoping to take back the
AFC South title.

Instead, the Texans (12-2) won 29-17 on Sunday to take the
division for the second straight year.

Andrew Luck matched a season-low for yards passing and was
sacked five times, and the Colts saw their latest comeback attempt
foiled. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak and still
leaves them one win away from clinching an unlikely playoff

”There’s still a chance to make the tournament,” Luck said.
”We’ll fight for that.”

The Colts are a surprising 9-5 after going 2-14 last season.

”It was a tough loss for us in that we came here with one idea
and that was to win the division,” Colts interim coach Bruce
Arians said. ”And we’re not going to win the division – they did

In rather convincing fashion, too.

”I think (the Texans) did a great job defensively of never
letting us establish a rhythm,” said Luck, who finished with 186
yards on 13 for 27 passing. ”They definitely brought the pressure
to us as opposed to us bringing it to them and forced us into some
bad decisions.”

Luck, despite a rare poor game in his rookie season, has thrown
for 3,978 yards and needs 74 yards to surpass Cam Newton’s NFL
rookie record of 4,051.

Rookie Vick Ballard ran for a career-high 105 yards for the
Colts, and T.Y. Hilton caught three passes for 78 yards, including
a 61-yard TD catch.

The Colts made too many mistakes to overcome.

”Obviously we can’t come into a stadium like this and beat
ourselves, having blocked kicks, 1 for 8 on third down and 1 for 3
in the red zone,” Arians said. ”The penalties hurt us, and we
beat ourselves in some areas.”

The Colts also wasted chances in the second half, when the
defense seemed to put the clamps on Matt Schaub and the Texans.

”For our defense to keep us in the game and us to not really
take advantage of those opportunities when they showed was, I
think, a downfall for us,” Luck said.

Luck entered the game having led the Colts to six wins on drives
in the fourth quarter or overtime, the most by a rookie since

Indianapolis outscored Houston 14-9 beginning with Dwayne
Allen’s TD catch with 1:07 left in the first half to get within six
points of the Texans late in the third.

But Houston’s defense shut down Luck and the Colts after that,
and the Texans used Arian Foster to eat up the clock. Foster ran
for a season-high 165 yards to up his total to 1,313 yards – his
third straight year with at least 1,200.

Andre Johnson had 151 yards receiving and a touchdown, Bryan
Braman scored a special teams touchdown on a blocked punt, and
Shayne Graham kicked five field goals for Houston, which bounced
back from an embarrassing 42-14 loss to New England on national
television six days earlier.

The Texans grabbed their first AFC South title last season after
the Colts nosedived without injured quarterback Peyton Manning.
Manning is gone to Denver and Luck couldn’t do much against an
inspired Houston defense led by J.J. Watt, who finished with a
game-high three sacks and 10 tackles to go with a forced

Luck is from Houston, but said his focus was on winning the
divisional game and not his homecoming.

”This is a business trip, and unfortunately we didn’t come up
out on top,” Luck said.

Luck was sacked five times playing behind a makeshift offensive
line missing center Samson Satele (ankle) and right tackle Winston
Justice (biceps).

Johnson scored on a 3-yard reception to make it 10-0 in the
first quarter.

The Texans didn’t score a touchdown on offense after that, but
were helped by Braman’s special teams effort.

Braman blocked his second punt of the season, recovered it and
returned it 8 yards for his first career touchdown to make it 20-3
just before halftime.

Ballard had 60 yards rushing on a Colts drive that ended with an
8-yard touchdown reception by Dwayne Allen to cut Houston’s lead to
23-17 in the third quarter.

Houston couldn’t do anything on its next drive and punted. But
Indy sputtered, and Arians even drew an unsportsmanlike conduct
penalty on a punt, giving Houston the ball at the Colts 39.

Graham added a 46-yard field goal to push the lead to 26-17 and
made his fifth field goal with about a minute left.

Hilton and Luck connected on a 61-yard touchdown pass just
before halftime.

Watt’s forced fumble on Mewelde Moore on the Houston 1 was
recovered by Tim Dobbins early in the second quarter, robbing the
Colts of points. And the Colts stalled inside the red zone again
and had to settle for Adam Vinatieri’s 26-yard field goal to cut
Houston’s lead to 10-3.

NOTES: Colts defenders Antoine Bethea, Dwight Freeney and Robert
Mathis each recorded a sack on Texans QB Matt Schaub. … WR Reggie
Wayne finished with a season-low 14 yards on three receptions. …
The Colts committed eight penalties totaling 79 yards.

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