It wasn't pretty. At times, it was downright ugly. The Indianapolis Colts' offense sputtered all day and the team couldn't quite put away a pesky Texans squad quarterbacked by Tom Savage.
At the end of the day, though, the Colts got the one stat that mattered: the W. They are AFC South champs for the second straight season, and are headed to the playoffs for the third time (out of three seasons) in the Andrew Luck era.
And with the division championship comes some coveted Monday After Awards as well.
MVP - Front Office
This has everything to do with the fact that the Colts are division champions, and that no one on the field really stood out to me. I know Josh Wilson went over this yesterday, but this string of success by the Colts is phenomenal.
I know quarterback play has factored into the run greatly, but it really does all start with the people on top, so I wanted to commend them not only for this season, but basically every year since 1998.
Including 1998 (Peyton Manning's rookie year) the Colts have only missed the playoffs 3 times. They have won the division 10 times (one of those being the AFC East). They will be headed to the playoffs for the 14th time in that span. They have produced one Offensive Rookie of the Year, four MVPs, one Defensive Player of the Year, one Walter Payton Man of the Year, one Super Bowl MVP, and one Coach of the Year.
Lots of teams (and their fans) would kill for this type of success. Sure the Colts let us down most of the time in the playoffs. But it's easy to forget that most teams don't make the playoffs this many times, and this consistently.
Again, it all starts with the front office (and it helps to have great QB play) and they deserve lots of credit for helping to keep the Colts as one of the most stable and consistent organizations in the league.
Hustle Award - Sergio Brown
I mentioned above that no one really stood out to me in the game on the Colts side of the ball. However, I thought Brown made some nice plays which were at least worthy of a mention.
The first being another fantastic open field tackle on the punt team. When it comes to being a gunner, not many do it better than Brown. The man has a nose for the ball and the returner on punts. While the entire punt unit was spectacular, I thought it was highlighted by Brown's tackle.
Late in the game Brown had another great play. This time Vontae Davis got beat over the top by DeVier Posey (I think it was him) and it looked like Houston would have another long completion. Then Brown came swooping in from the safety spot to knock the ball away. It was perfectly played, and timed, by Brown and a clutch play as well.
In my opinion, Brown continues to be one of the most underrated players on this Colts roster.
Brett Favre Award - Andrew Luck
It seems like every week we hear Luck being compared to one QB or another. So I'm going to throw my hat, and opinion, into the ring here. Luck reminds me a lot of a younger Brett Favre.
Growing up in Wisconsin, Favre has always been one of my favorite players (regardless of which team he was on) so I've seen plenty of the old gun-slinger. Watch some of Favre's early 90s highlights, and you'll see a lot of similarities with Luck.
Both players are immense competitors (of course if your QB ISN'T a competitor you have a problem) with incredible talent. People forget Favre would take off running at times too, back in the day.
The biggest similarity, I think, come directly in throwing the ball. At times, both Luck and Favre could look unstoppable and score at will. On any given play these passers could toss a touchdown. They also have the amazing ability to make you scratch your head. A lot of it comes from trying to do too much. We saw it a lot from Favre, and we're seeing it a bit from Luck as well.
I know it was a miscommunication with Coby Fleener, but it was another week with a bad turnover from Luck.
Cancel the APB Award - Hakeem Nicks
For the first time in forever we heard from Hakeem Nicks. He only had two targets, but had two catches and a touchdown. On both plays Nicks looked like the receiver we all hoped he would be.
I know it's a small sample size, but it's very encouraging. I was surprised that Pep Hamilton didn't call his number more times. Still, if Nicks can get going in time for the playoffs, it could be a huge boost for this team. Especially if T.Y. Hilton misses any significant time.
Worse With Age Award - Josh Cribbs
Is it just me, or is Cribbs getting worse every week? His first two games with the Colts he looked electric, fresh, and like he would take one to the house at any given time.
Since then, he has looked worse and worse. Now I just find myself hoping he doesn't do something dumb and/or fumble the football. And that's basically all I thought when Griff Whalen was back there.
Hopefully it's just a rough patch, but Cribbs really needs to step his game up.
LVP - The Announcers
Ah, it's been a while since I bashed the CBS announcers. Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon again made me question how they have a job. Let's look at a few instances I distinctly remember from the game.
The first being with these two drooling over Andrew Luck. I think it was Harlan who began making the (seemingly weekly) Luck - Elway comparison. Gannon then said he had never heard that comparison before. Seriously? I think even if you were living under a rock you would have heard someone compare Luck and Elway. I have no proof, but I would be willing to bet Gannon was a part of a broadcast (other than this game) where the comparison has been made.
Next being when these two were talking about Cribbs. They were adamant that Cribbs has had a fumbling problem this season. As far as I remember, his only fumbles of the season came last week in Cleveland. Then again, that's probably the only game these two watched in preparation for this game.
And finally, Gannon's brilliant statement about Trent Richardson. After Daniel Herron ran the Colts all the way down the field, Richardson had one (very impressive) nine yard run. Gannon proceeded to say that the run was the reason the Colts have Richardson. That he was a grinder and a game closer. Really?
Again, it wasn't pretty, but the Colts got the job done. Champions of the division again. A home playoff game looms in January. Playoff seeding is still in play, though. The Colts need to win out in order to get (at worst) the third seed. The other way would be for the Bengals and Steelers to each lose one of their last two games.
The Colts are on to Dallas, a city where they haven't won since 1996. It will also provide them with a real test before the playoffs come around. It should be a great game.