In a very fitting performance in the unofficial AFC South championship game, today's contest between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans was marked by horrible offensive football. In the end, the Texans' offense was slightly less awful and they pulled out a 16-10 win to take a commanding lead in the AFC South.
The Texans improve to 7-7 on the season while the Colts drop to 6-8, and with two weeks remaining in the season the Colts will now need a lot of help if they want to make the playoffs. Houston notched their first ever win in Indianapolis today, and it couldn't have come at a better time. This win likely will lead them to the playoffs, while this loss likely will keep the Colts at home. In other words, the massive changes will begin a week sooner than they would have if the Colts had won.
The Texans lost T.J. Yates and had to turn to Brandon Weeden, but he did enough to help lead the Texans to the win, leading a 90-yard scoring drive to take the lead. That proved to be enough, as the Colts' offense simply couldn't get anything going today. Aside from an 11-yard Matt Hasselbeck touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief and a 29-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri, the Colts' offense was as bad and ineffective as it's been all year. While Matt Hasselbeck didn't play particularly well, give him credit for gutting it out - he was really, really beat up entering the game and was beat up even more so today. He needs to be better, but the Colts also have to be able to run the ball. Basically, their offense wasn't able to get anything going today despite fantastic field position. There's no one to blame for this loss but themselves - namely, their offense. They managed just 190 total yards of offense, 3.5 yards per play, 14 first downs, and were just 4/13 on third down.
The offense has been the issue for a while now. They only scored 10 against the Steelers and 16 against the Jaguars, and while much of the focus was on the defensive struggles, the offensive issues were more glaring and apparent. They scored only 10 points again today, and let's be honest: no matter how the defense does, 10 points isn't going to win many games. The Texans scored just 16 today (a combination of the Colts defense and awful Texans offense), but the Colts couldn't top it. The Colts' playoff hopes are nearly dead now after an awful offensive performance.
The only positive of the day came from the special teams unit, as Pat McAfee was once again special. He punted seven times while averaging 41.1 yards per punt, and he pinned five of his punts inside the 20 yard line - pinning the Texans deep routinely. Adam Vinatieri hit his only field goal attempt of the day to extend his streak to 21 in a row, while Quan Bray provided a spark in the return game, averaging 16.8 yards per punt return and 26.7 yards per kick return.
Ultimately, this game was absolutely what was to be expected from a huge AFC South game like this one, but the Colts just couldn't muster enough offense to get it done. They fall to 6-8 on the season and are likely out of the playoffs. Massive changes are coming in Indianapolis, indeed.