Matt Hasselbeck still has it
I'll be honest: when it looked like Andrew Luck was going to miss last Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, I didn't have any confidence in the Colts to win any game without their franchise quarterback. And then they won - an ugly overtime win, but a win nonetheless. And then it got to a division game on the road on a short week without Luck, and I had little confidence the Colts were going to be able to pull it out. And then they won. Again. We can focus on a lot of things, like the fact that the Texans are just not a very good football team and that the AFC South is awful. That has certainly been a big reason why the Colts have won two in a row without Andrew Luck. But something that has been just as big? Having a good backup quarterback. The Colts invested money this offseason in bringing back Matt Hasselbeck, and it is paying big dividends now. In two starts, Hasselbeck has completed 48 of 76 passes (63.2%) for 495 yards (6.5 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns without an interception. He has run the offense that he's been asked to (even calling some nice audibles, too), hasn't turned the football over, and has been more than good enough to win. It's hard to ask for much more. And when you consider that said backup is 40-years old and was in the hospital earlier this week with an illness, it makes what he did on Thursday night even more impressive. He was in control, and while the Colts didn't put up the Star Wars numbers, Matt Hasselbeck certainly did everything you could expect from a backup quarterback - and more.
Age is only a number
Remember earlier this offseason when many people were criticizing the Colts for adding a lot of veteran players? Let's be perfectly clear that one game does not define whether those statements were right or wrong - but for one game, it worked out brilliantly for general manager Ryan Grigson. Some of his notable signings, such as Hasselbeck, Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Kendall Langford, and Mike Adams all played key roles in the victory. And perhaps the most impressive thing? These guys didn't look their age. There was the 40-year old Matt Hasselbeck making some great throws. There was the 32-year old Gore rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown. There was the 34-year old Johnson catching six passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns in his return to Houston. There was the 34-year old Mike Adams intercepting two passes, including the clincher late in the fourth quarter. There was the 42-year Adam Vinatieri, hitting field goals from 48 and 42 yards out. In short, it was an impressive victory led by the Colts' veteran players.
Pass defense still needs work
There have been some encouraging signs out of the Colts defense through the first four weeks of the season, though it's clear that they're not there yet. That was perhaps most evident on Thursday night. The Colts allowed Brian Hoyer (who did play well, to be sure) to complete 24 of 31 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. They allowed DeAndre Hopkins (who is very good but who also was the Texans' only reliable threat) to catch 11 passes for 169 yards. They allowed a Hail Mary touchdown at the end of the first half where several Colts defenders were trying to guard each other. They let Jaelen Strong slip right by them for a wide open touchdown. And to cap it all off, they generated very little pass rush whatsoever. The Colts only allowed 2.9 yards per carry to the Texans and just 2.2 yards per carry to Arian Foster, so it wasn't all bad - the run defense actually looked good. But the pass defense did not. This was Greg Toler's season debut, and the Colts' secondary was supposed to finally come together with their starting three out there - but that obviously didn't happen. Vontae Davis was playing injured, and Toler was in his first game back, so there's reason to think that it will improve, but the pass defense didn't look good on Thursday night.