5 things to know after Colts beat Texans 25-3

Andrew Luck liked everything he saw Sunday.

T.Y. Hilton got back in the routine of making plays. Trent

Richardson got a chance to play power football. Hey, the Colts even

scored two touchdowns in the first half.

After dealing with six weeks of questions and concerns, the

Colts are hoping they’ve turned the corner after a 25-3 victory

over reeling Houston, which has lost 12 straight.

”It was good. I think it was more important we got it with two

games left,” the Colts quarterback said. ”Hopefully, we can get a

little mojo going through these next two games. This was a good

start against a good division team.”

For Indy (9-5), it was a rare breather.

Luck didn’t even need his magical late-game touch, leading Indy

to its most lopsided win since a 37-3 victory Sept. 29 at

Jacksonville.

Luck was 19 of 32 for 180 yards with two first-half touchdown

passes in a game the AFC South champs desperately needed in a

playoff tuneup. Hilton caught a season-best eight passes for 78

yards. Griff Whalen caught a 14-yard TD pass and returned a punt 51

yards to set up another score, and Robert Mathis forced his second

safety of the season with a strip sack of Case Keenum in the end

zone. The sack also gave Mathis the franchise sacks record for a

single-season record (16 1/2) and career (108), breaking the marks

previously held by longtime teammate and close friend Dwight

Freeney (16 in 2004, 108 in career).

But the numbers paled in comparison to the most important facet

Sunday – getting ready for the playoffs.

”This was certainly something that’s very positive for our

football team, our organization moving forward into this next game

against Kansas City on the road and then the last one here and then

the playoffs,” coach Chuck Pagano said. ”Looking forward, moving

forward in the playoffs and whatnot, next week and the week after,

you’ve got to score touchdowns. We can’t settle for field goals. We

know that. We’ll keep grinding away.”

Here are five more things we learned Sunday:

HOUSTON HAS PROBLEMS: Even a coaching change couldn’t fix the

Texans this week. Keenum was picked off twice and fumbled in the

end zone, which led to the safety. The defense gave up 20

first-half points to a team that had scored only 24 in the first

halves of the previous six games combined. And Houston had 14

penalties for the second straight week. No wonder the Texans

haven’t won since Week 2.

MATHIS ATTACK: Mathis isn’t slowing down after 11 seasons. He’s

getting better. The converted linebacker entered Sunday as the NFL

sacks leader and did nothing to hurt his push for NFL defensive

player of the year with four tackles, one sack, one quarterback hit

and the forced fumble. Last year’s defensive player of the year

J.J. Watt, meanwhile, had five tackles but only one solo and one

quarterback hit. He was no factor Sunday.

CASE CLOSED: Unhappy Texans fans calling for another quarterback

change probably won’t like what interim coach Wade Phillips had to

say. Though Keenum still hasn’t won as a starter, Phillips said

Sunday that Keenum would continue to play behind center for the

final two games and that he never considered starting Matt Schaub

against Indy.

OVERCOMING INJURIES: The Colts have been hit as hard as any NFL

team by injuries, and yet they already have a division title. They

did it again Sunday, winning despite playing without two starting

offensive linemen, despite losing a replacement starter, Joe Reitz,

with a concussion on the opening series and losing their starting

running back Donald Brown later in the first half. With two weeks

left, perhaps the Colts can still get healthy – on and off the

field – before the playoffs begin.

ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE: A week ago, after losing in Cincinnati, it

appeared the Colts would be locked into the AFC’s No. 4 seed. Maybe

not. Denver’s loss Thursday night and New England’s loss on Sunday

have cracked open the door just a bit. To move up, the Colts will

need to win their last two games and get help. But with the way

things have gone in the AFC this season, anything is possible.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org