A week after the 49ers contained the Colts offense by refusing to show their alignment or tip their scheme until the final seconds of the play clock the Colts countered, with their opening drive coming at a frantic pace running 9 plays in barely over 2 minutes to move from their 20 to the edge of field goal range.
The Colts D came out strong holding the Texans to 7 yards with a turnover on 3 drives in the first quarter and not allowing a first down until midway through the 2nd quarter. Unfortunately the Colts offense, despite crossing the Texans 40 on each of their 6 1st half drives they only converted it into 13 points (Downs, TD, FG, FG, Punt, INT).
After dominating the Texans O for a quarter and a half the tables were flipped with the Texans mounting three 80+ yard drives in addition to knocking in a field goal before the half to score 17 unanswered (which would have likely been 24 if not for Powers' heady fumble recovery for a touchback). At the same time the Colts O went 3 and out, and ended a promising drive with a Reggie Wayne interception on a terribly called and even more disastrously executed trick play (on which Pierre Garcon picked up his requisite penalty a game, again for OPI which was declined as he was unable to prevent the pick).
With the Colts trailing in the 4th quarter again both units stepped back up, with the D forcing a 3 and out despite having been on the field for 13 of the 17 minutes elapsed in the 2nd half and the O launching a 61 yard TD drive to retake the lead with 7 minutes to play.
Gary Brackett's pressure forced what should have been the game ending pick to Clint Session giving the ball over to the Colts with 2:13 left in the game. After a 2 yard run on 1st down, Ryan Diem committed a false start putting the Colts into a passing situation where Peyton was stripped of the football while stepping up in the pocket. Ryan Diem saved the game he had almost cost the team by falling on the fumble. Addai's 13 yard 3rd down run wasn't enough and the Colts punted away having drained just 24 seconds from the clock (but having forced the Texans final 2 timeouts).
Soft zone and a miraculous scramble and dumpoff from Schaub to Slaton allowed the Texans to move down to the Colts 24 yardline with 1 second remaining to kick the fieldgoal. Kicking for overtime Kris Brown's 42 yarder was just left and the Colts came away with the victory.
The Colts gameplan was very pass heavy early with 25 dropbacks in the first quarter, 16 in the second. Peyton Manning finished with 50 pass attempts, with 55 pass plays being called (50+ 3 sacks, a Peyton scramble and the Wayne pass). The main beneficiary of the pass heavy tilt was Dallas Clark who caught 14 of 16 official targets for 119 yards plus a defensive holding call and a personal foul for a forearm to the head on an additional 2 passes thrown his way. He also took an end around for 4 yards. Clark is now on pace to 120 receptions and 1,406 receiving yards, both of which would smash the previous records of 102 receptions held by Tony Gonzalez and 1,290 yards by (Senior, not his punk son).
The other big offensive mover was Joseph Addai with 14 rushes for 63 yards (4.5 YPC) and a TD along with 5 receptions for 49 yards and a TD receiving. As BBS talked about this morning the Colts running game has shown improvement over the last 3 games.
Not converting yardage into points well the last two games is concerning, but it's a much easier fix than not being able to get into scoring position consistently. The return of Donald Brown, allowing a more run heavy gameplan without risking breaking Addai, and of Anthony Gonzalez giving a boost from the inconsistent Garcon (or possibly injured Austin Collie) should go a long way to fix the Colts recent red zone hiccups.
The Colts now hold a 3.5 game lead in the AFC South (with a 3-0 divisional record that makes them likely to take tiebreakers in the division) and could gain a 2 game lead on the entire AFC with a Steelers victory tonight. It's still a bit early for playoff talk but the Colts could clinch a 8th straight winning season with a win in PATRIOTS WEEK.
Let the rivalry hype begin