EditorsNote: Corrects “lead” in Graph 9; Corrects “responded” in Graph 10; fixes FG to “34-yard” “five seconds” in Graph 10
Anthony Walker recovered a fumble with 1:22 left and the visiting Indianapolis Colts escaped with a tense 26-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium.
Texans center Nick Martin handcuffed quarterback Deshaun Watson with a bad snap on second down at the Indianapolis 2-yard line and Walker pounced on the loose football to seal the victory and lift the Colts (8-4) into a first-place tie with Tennessee atop the AFC South.
Watson passed for 341 yards but had a hand in both Houston (4-8) turnovers. Kenny Moore stripped a pass from Brandin Cooks with 54 seconds left in the third quarter for the first interception of Watson since Week 5 against Jacksonville.
The Colts sacked Watson five times, with Justin Houston notching his third in the end zone for a safety that spotted the Colts a 26-20 lead with 6:02 left. That play followed the Colts’ failed 4th-and-1 run at the Houston 5 where Nyheim Hines was stopped by Texans linebackers Zach Cunningham and Tyrell Adams.
The Texans, depleted at receiver, got 141 yards on eight receptions from Keke Coutee and five catches and 101 yards from Chad Hansen, who was elevated from the practice squad.
Philip Rivers completed 27-of-35 for 285 yards and two touchdowns for the Colts, and Jonathan Taylor added 91 rushing yards on 13 carries.
The first half was an offensive extravaganza with the two teams combining for 502 yards.
Rivers hit T.Y. Hilton for a 21-yard scoring pass for a 7-0 lead at the 9:52 mark of the first quarter. The Texans responded as Watson beat a blitz and completed a 64-yard pass to Coutee before scrambling 11 yards for a touchdown that knotted the contest.
The Colts took a 14-10 lead on a 5-yard Hines scoring run, then extended it to a 21-10 lead by converting a 4th-and-4 via Rivers’ 39-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Taylor on a wheel route.
Houston responded with a 6-yard David Johnson touchdown run and added a 34-yard Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal with five seconds left that cut the deficit to 24-20 at the half.
Indianapolis’ point total was a season high for the first half. Hilton posted 110 yards on eight catches for his first 100-yard game since Dec. 23, 2018.
–Field Level Media