Colts come up short in 22-17 loss to Texans
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Houston Texans hoped to cash in on a hefty offseason investment in the offense.
Turns out, their rugged defense may still be the way to the playoffs.
View from the sidelines: NFL cheerleaders 2016.
On a day the Texans scored only one touchdown against Indianapolis, the defense forced three turnovers and stopped the Colts on fourth-and-1 with 1:24 left in the game to preserve a 22-17 win on Sunday.
"What the defense did is truly unbelievable," quarterback Brock Osweiler said. "It was like a playoff game."
Win a couple more, and it will be a playoff game.
By snapping a three-game losing streak, Houston (7-6) and Tennessee remained tied atop the AFC South, though the Texans are better positioned because of season sweeps over the Titans and Colts (6-7).
The Texans won their second straight game in Indy after losing their first 13 and have won nine straight over division foes.
This one sure wasn't easy.
Nick Novak made five field goals and Lamar Miller ran 21 times for 107 yards and scored on a 2-yard run late in the first half for all of the points.
Osweiler, meanwhile, went 14 of 24 for 147 yards with no touchdowns despite twice starting drives inside the Indy 20-yard line.
Still, the old-school style played right into the hands of Houston's defense, which picked off Andrew Luck twice and recovered a fumble after Jadeveon Clowney beat tight end Dwayne Allen on third-and-goal from the 3-yard line.
They finished it off by beating the Colts with a blitz that forced an errant throw on Indy's final play.
Luck blamed himself.
"Bad plays, I mean those turnovers," he said after going 24 of 45 for 276 yards with two TD passes. "We didn't execute, and you've got to execute to have a chance to win the game."
After the Colts took a 3-0 lead on their opening series, they didn't score again until Frank Gore took a screen pass and raced 18 yards to the end zone to make it 16-10 early in the third quarter. T.Y. Hilton scored on a 35-yard TD pass early in the fourth, cutting the deficit to 19-17.
But the Texans used nearly 6 minutes on the ensuing drive to set up Novak's 34-yard field goal, and the defense, as it did all day, held up.
"Was it perfect by any means? No. But we got the job done," Osweiler said.
MOVING ON UP
Gore and Adam Vinatieri continue climbing the NFL charts. Gore, the Colts' top running back, finished with 74 yards from scrimmage to move past Terrell Owens (16,185) for No. 11 on the NFL's list.
And Vinatieri scored five points, ending the day with 104 to extend his NFL record to 19 100-point seasons. He's achieved that feat nine times since joining the Colts, a franchise record.
Texans linebacker Brian Cushing finished with six tackles, giving him 639 in his career -- breaking DeMeco Ryans' franchise record (636).
While Houston ran 41 times for 185 yards, Miller reached the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career. The milestone came on a 20-yard run midway through the fourth quarter. He has 1,012 yards this season -- a pretty good return for a team that signed the free agent to a four-year deal in March.
Texans: Cornerback Johnathan Joseph (ribs) was inactive, and right guard Jeff Allen left in the third quarter with a concussion.
Colts: Already short-handed on defense and down one starting offensive lineman before the game, things got worse throughout the day. Indy lost left guard Jack Mewhort (left knee) in the third quarter and starting center Ryan Kelly left briefly in the third quarter.
Linebacker Curt Maggitt (knee) limped directly from the field to the locker room after getting hurt on a fourth-quarter kickoff and receiver Donte Moncrief injured his hamstring.
THEY SAID IT
Texans: "Our defense competes. Our defense is tough to beat with our secondary playing well," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said.
Colts: "We had a different play called and they did a nice job and they called timeout, got it in right at the right time, took a picture of what we were doing," coach Chuck Pagano said, referring to Indy's final play. "They made a substitution and we called a different play and they executed it and, obviously, we didn't."
Colts: Travel to Minnesota next Sunday.