Week Nine Game Notes: Colts 27, Texans 24

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts played as bad as you could play, and then suddenly overcame an 18-point deficit to win, 27-24. Unreal. Insane. Incredible. That's what this game was.

There's no other way to start this than by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, who collapsed as he was walking off the field at halftime and was taken off the field on a stretcher to a local hospital.  The Texans ruled out a heart attack, but he is still in the hospital and his family is there with him.  Times like these remind us that football really doesn't matter.  Our prayers go out to Coach Kubiak and his family and we wish him a speedy recovery!

On the field, it was quite a game.

Former Colts general manager Bill Polian used to give the impression that we (media and fans) knew nothing about football.  After tonight... I'm beginning to think nobody does.  I still can't figure that game out.  I'm still sitting here in disbelief.  That was insane.  Unreal.  Incredible. Pathetic.  Terrible.  Great.  Phenomenal.  Whatever word(s) you want to use to describe it, you're probably right.

For much of the game, the Colts played as bad as you could possibly imagine, and then some.  It was really, really bad. And then, just like that - down 24-6 - the Colts came back.  Andrew Luck and the Colts overcame an 18-point deficit to win 27-24.  The defense stiffened, the offense actually caught fire (led by T.Y. Hilton) and Andrew Luck got his 10th career game winning drive - the most ever by a player through his first two years in the league.

It was sloppy.  It was ugly.  It was magnificent.  It was beautiful.  That was the game tonight, and yeah, I still can't believe it either.

Let's take a look at the bad and the good from this game.

The Defense:

The Bad...

This defense was absolutely AWFUL in the first half.  The pass defense was AWFUL.  Andre Johnson had 7 catches for 190 yards and 3 touchdowns... in the first half.  On the very first drive he made Vontae Davis - one of the league's best corners this year - look completely silly and burned him badly for a score.  He continued to burn Antoine Bethea, Cassius Vaughn, and Darius Butler in the game, and those are just the ones I remember.  He finished the game with 9 catches for 229 yards and 3 scores.  The Colts let Ben Tate run for 81 yards with four broken ribs.  Incredibly tough performance from him, but still... Colts need to be better than that.  And Case Keenum looks like he has a chance to be the Texans' quarterback of the future, but he wasn't overly great tonight - and the Colts let him hang in there and keep making throws.

The Good...

Pretty much the second half.  The Colts didn't allow Andre Johnson to catch a single pass in the second half until the Texans' final drive, when he caught two.  Chuck Pagano and Greg Manusky made some great adjustments and began bringing more pressure and getting to Keenum more and the defense began getting stops.  Of course, it helps when the opposing kicker can't hit a kick,  but in this type of game you'll take all the breaks you can get.  In the second half, the defense was tremendously better and should be commended - especially the fact that they essentially shut down Andre Johnson.  Give Pagano and Manusky credit for that.

The Offense:

The Bad...

The Colts had numerous drops.  Andrew Luck had numerous bad throws.  The Colts offensive line had their worst performance of the year by far.  Trent Richardson averaged just 2.5 yards per carry.  Pep Hamilton's play calling still stunk.  They scored just 6 points in the first 44:55.  They looked TERRIBLE and out of sync... and then -

The Good...

Something happened.  A flip switched.  The Colts began moving the ball and scoring.  You know what happened?  Pep Hamilton went to a no huddle, shotgun passing attack.  And the Colts' offense exploded.  T.Y. Hilton caught 3 touchdowns in a 11:05 span and the Colts took the lead.  Andrew Luck looked so much better.  The offensive line gave him time to throw.  Donald Brown ran very well all game.  And the Colts scored 21 points to overcome an 18 point deficit.

The Special Teams:

The Bad...

Adam Vinatieri had a field goal blocked.  The Colts had a few special teams penalties.  Pat McAfee dropped a snap, made an incredible play (running around before finally getting a great kick off) that was called back due to penalty, and then the next punt was a bad one after McAfee got crushed but no flag was thrown (more on that later).

The Good...

Adam Vinatieri made 2 field goals.  Pat McAfee averaged 44.4 yards per punt and pinned 2 of his 5 punts inside the 20.  T.Y. Hilton had by far his best punt return of the year, a 34-yarder.  David Reed had his best day returning kicks, averaging 32 yards per 3 returns.  And, to make things better, Texans' kicker Randy Bullock made just 1 of 4 field goal attempts, including missing the potential game-tying 55 yard kick as time expired.  The Colts also forced and recovered a fumble on a kickoff, but the officials ruled it out of bounds (the wrong call).  It was a great heads-up play by LaVon Brazill, but unfortunately the officials missed it (more on that later, too).

The Coaching:

The Bad...

Where to begin?  The Colts looked completely unprepared to play this game.  They came out flat and shell-shocked and looked lost.  That's definitely on the coaches.  Pep Hamilton continued to be bad at playcalling, and I didn't see any new things that they would have worked on during the bye week.  Although, really, I didn't see many things this team would have worked on in the bye week.  Chuck Pagano and his staff failed to prepare this team coming into the game, and it showed in an embarassing first half.

The Good...

There is such a thing called halftime adjustments and in game coaching, and thankfully for the Colts, the coaching improved as the game went on.  It still wasn't great, but the coaches made the adjustments needed.  I already mentioned the job Pagano and Greg Manusky did in the second half, and Pep Hamilton going to a no huddle shotgun attack was a great move, even though it was pretty much the only choice left.  And just so you know, I love the Colts going for the 2 point conversion in the third quarter.  It was the right call.  This coaching staff made the adjustments necessary to win this game and they deserve credit for that.

The Officiating:

The Bad...

Everything.  Is that an acceptable answer?  Seriously, I hate pointing it out because it comes across as an excuse (although the Colts ended up winning, so then it just sounds like a sore winner...), but the officials cost the Colts two possessions in the first half.  Pat McAfee was crushed on a punt and the refs thought the Texan defender hit the ball, but they didn't actually watch the play or else they would have seen that he didn't.  So no roughing the punter call, inexplicably.  Then, the Colts forced a fumble on a kick return and LaVon Brazill made an incredible play to keep the ball in bounds, but after a review the officials decided that Brazill was actually out of bounds.  How they saw that from the video, I have no idea.  They made other bad calls, too (some of which benefitted the Colts) and overall I'm left trying to remember a game that was this poorly officiated all the way through.  Don't miss this point, either - the Texans had a few bad calls go against them, too, but nothing near as obvious as the ones against the Colts I mentioned earlier.

The Good...

Nothing?  I got nothing.  Let's move on.

Other:

The Bad...

Cris Collinsworth.  Seriously, it was making me sick in the first half how often he was talking about the loss of Reggie Wayne being the reason for the Colts' struggles.  A drop?  "Oh, that's because Reggie isn't there!"  The line can't block?  "Oh, that's because Reggie isn't there!"  Seeing the reactions of people, you'd think Reggie played all 11 positions on both offense and defense.  I don't mean to belittle the importance of Reggie Wayne - it is huge and had a HUGE impact on this game, but Collinsworth and others were taking it too far and making too big of a deal out of it.  The overreactions that came with this game were HUGE and INCREDIBLY annoying.  Seriously, if you went back and read my twitter mentions from the first half, you'd wonder why Jim Irsay didn't fire the GM, head coach, coaching staff, and every player before firing himself.  I mean, seriously - it got way out of hand way too fast.  It was awful and terrible.  I think we all need to do better about learning the difference between analyzing a bad game and making general judgements about the team in general.  Anyways... yeah, the overreactions were huge.

The Good...

THE COLTS WON!!!!  No matter the overreactions, they will be quieted because of the win.  That's great.  We won't ignore the bad (because there was plenty), but hopefully we'll be spared of some of the overreactions.  Also, Reggie Wayne was at the game!! It was great to see Reggie there just 9 days after surgery, and he surprised the team at the hotel last night by showing up - the only person that knew about it was Chuck Pagano.  Reggie was out with the captains at midfield for the coin toss, too.  That was great and awesome to see.

We'll have plenty more in the next few days about this simply insane comeback and win.  First, though, we need time to digest it, because we can't really believe it still.  In fact, I'm pinching myself trying to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  It was a nightmarish start for the Colts in every way possible, but somehow they overcame an 18 point deficit to beat the division rival Texans, all but ending their season and making the Colts that much more comfortable atop the AFC South.  And now, the Colts are 6-2, with the most incredible of all of those wins (yes, more so than the 49ers, Seahawks, or Broncos wins) coming tonight in Houston against the Texans.  Final score: Colts 27, Texans 24.  Incredible.

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