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The 2015 season was a very rough one for the Indianapolis Colts, as they finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season. With the playoffs starting today, however, let's take a look at how the Colts fared in the six playoff matchups they faced this season (hint: not too well).
Houston Texans, week five
The Colts' first game against an eventual playoff team this year came in week five on the road against the Houston Texans, who went on to win the AFC South. In the first matchup between the two teams this year, though, the Colts got the better of Houston and won their third straight AFC South game in a row for an early-season three-game winning streak. Playing in their second game without Andrew Luck, the Colts turned to backup Matt Hasselbeck, who was hospitalized earlier in the short week due to an illness. Hasselbeck was able to play in the Thursday night game, however, and the Colts took an early 13-0 lead. The Texans fought back once Brian Hoyer entered the game at quarterback, but ultimately the Colts pulled out a 27-20 road win on a short week with a sick backup quarterback to improve their record to 3-2 on the season.
New England Patriots, week six
The highly-anticipated rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game certainly didn't fail to disappoint, at least in the first half. With Andrew Luck back under center for the Colts, Luck and the Colts and Tom Brady and the Patriots went back and forth in the first half. The Colts took a 21-20 lead into halftime, but things unraveled in the second half - their offense wasn't as efficient, the fake punt fiasco happened, and the Patriots won 34-27. It was still the closest that the Colts have come to beating the Patriots in the Andrew Luck era, but ultimately it ended in a loss at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Carolina Panthers, week eight
The Colts would face another undefeated team just two weeks later as they traveled to face the Panthers on the road on Monday Night Football. And, for the first three-plus quarters, it was about as bad of a performance as you could have imagined from Andrew Luck and the Colts' offense. With 10:44 left in the game, the Panthers scored again to go up 23-6. Then, however, the Colts caught fire and scored 17 points in the final 7:04 of regulation to send the game to overtime tied at 23 thanks to an Adam Vinatieri field goal as time expired. In overtime, the Colts got the ball first and Vinatieri nailed a 50-yard field goal to give the Colts their first lead of the game. Thanks to the new overtime rules, the Panthers then equalled the Colts' field goal, and after an Andrew Luck interception on the following drive, the Panthers hit a 52-yard field goal to win.
Denver Broncos, week nine
The following week, the Colts would again face an unbeaten (their third undefeated opponent in four weeks) as they returned home to host the undefeated Broncos and their top-ranked defense. The Colts got out to an incredibly fast start, taking a 17-0 lead on Denver. Behind Luck's best performance of the season, the Colts' offense put up 27 points on the league's best defense and the Colts held the Broncos to only 24 points, giving the Colts their first non-division win of the season and giving plenty of reason for optimism: the Colts beat a very good team thanks to the play of Andrew Luck, so perhaps they could get things turned around...
Pittsburgh Steelers, week thirteen
Of course, we all know the story: Luck suffered a lacerated kidney and torn abdominal muscle in the win over Denver and would miss the remainder of the season. Behind Matt Hasselbeck, the Colts won their next two games to improve to 4-0 on the year when playing with their backup, but things came crashing down in Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 24 of 39 passes for 364 yards and four touchdowns against Indy's defense, while the Colts' offense managed just 240 total yards and just ten points. It was a complete beatdown in all three phases of the game as the Steelers won in a 45-10 rout.
Houston Texans, week fifteen
After back-to-back blowout losses, the Colts returned home for their biggest game of the season: a week 15 matchup against the Houston Texans, who at the time were tied with the Colts for the AFC South lead with just three weeks left to go. The winner of that game would very likely make the playoffs, while the loser of the game would very likely be watching from home. The Colts jumped out to a 10-0 second quarter lead, but the Texans came back behind backup quarterback Brandon Weeden. Houston took the 13-10 lead on a touchdown with 10:36 left in the fourth quarter, but the Colts' offense wasn't able to do anything to re-take it. The Texans added on a late field goal to make it 16-10, but on the following drive Matt Hasselbeck threw a pick to seal the Colts' loss. The Colts scored just ten points and gained just 190 yards of total offense in the loss, one that kicked them out of first place in the AFC South and, ultimately, resulted in them watching from home.
Colts' record vs. playoff teams in 2015: 2-4
Colts' record vs. non-playoff teams in 2015: 6-4