NFL Week 17 Recap: Colts Dominate Texans 28-16 In Chuck Pagano's Return

Joe Robbins

CHUCKSTRONG was more than a phrase Sunday to the Colts. They played better than they have all season, sending the Texans most likely to the #3 seed and playing next weekend.

If that is CHUCKSTRONG Football, sign me up for the next decade.

The Colts had no reason in the standings to play this week, as they had already clinched the 5th seed in the AFC Playoffs, but that isn't CHUCKSTRONG Football.

What we saw Sunday, a 28-16 Colts win over the Texans, was a game I think we've all been waiting for all season. We saw the Offense, the Defense, and the Special Teams play well throughout the game, and it was the first truly dominant game we've seen from the Colts this season. Clearly, CHUCKSTRONG had a big deal with what happened at Lucas Oil Stadium today.

The Colts win most likely knocks the Texans all the way down to the #3 seed, forcing them to play the Bengals next weekend, something nobody would have expected just a month ago. It also means that the Texans have come to Indianapolis 11 times in their history, and 11 times they've returned home to Houston with a loss. It was the one thing I really wanted to continue, and it certainly did.

I think we saw the two best drives of the entire season for the Colts today, the first one and the last one. The opening drive set the tone for the entire game, marching down the field 75 yards on 13 plays, capped off by a Andrew Luck to Coby Fleener TD. It took up over seven minutes of the first quarter, and it was one of those drives that allowed everyone to relax and settle in early, and they never let up. Then the last drive, the Colts took over with 9:46 left in the game, up 28-16. All they did was go 15 plays, 63 yards, and eat up every second remaining, taking knees for the final three plays. People talk about the four minute offense all the time; this was the 10 minute Offense performed to perfection. Huge credit goes to the Offensive Line, Vick Ballard, and a big play to cap it off on a 3rd and 2 from Luck to Reggie Wayne, just his 4th catch of the day, but none bigger. To dominate a defense like that, especially one as good as the Texans, was something to marvel at.

On Defense the clear player of the game was Vontae Davis, who made several really good plays, had two interceptions, one on perfect coverage and the other a great play on an underthrown ball. He did have an interference penalty or two, but I'm ok with those when the overall coverage he had was very good. Dwight Freeney, possibly playing in his last game at home for the Colts, played his best game of the season today, getting consistent pressure on Matt Schaub and getting to him once. The D-Line and LBs also held Arian Foster under 100 yards for the first time in five games against him, as he got only 96 yards on the ground. Overall a pretty solid day for the Defense.

Then on Special Teams I love that Deji Karim only goes North and South, picking a hole and just going with it, you have to get a lot of help to take back a kickoff without being touched. T.Y. Hilton also had a pretty good punt return right after that. If the Colts can get contributions from their Special Teams units, this team could really be a tough out in the Playoffs.

The turning point in the game, obviously, was the 70 yard TD catch and run by Hilton from Luck at the start of the 4th quarter. The Colts had just converted a 3rd and 13 to Reggie Wayne, but Anthony Castonzo was called for holding against Conner Barwin, making it 3rd and 23. They showed a replay before they broke for commercial that showed Luck looking to his right before going quick back to his left and firing to Hilton, which is really the sign of a maturing QB. Then after the break they showed how the Safety cheated towards the right side of the Offense, giving Luck all the room he needed to put the ball on the money, in stride, and allowed Hilton to high-step into the end zone. Beautiful play.

We now know the Colts will travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens, which if I have to guess right now they'll be playing at 1:00 Sunday, but we'll know sometime this evening for sure. For know I'm just going to grin ear-to-ear at how the Colts played today, when in past years we would have seen Drew Stanton handing off the Mewelde Moore. For the most part I don't believe momentum plays a big part in the NFL, but this Colts team plays so well on emotion, we'll see how they do next week, as the Ravens did not play their starters very much at all today.

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