In mid-October the Indianapolis Colts traveled to face the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football. Everyone knew at the time that it would wind up being a key AFC South matchup, but few could have realized how important that game would become.
The Colts jumped out to a 13-3 halftime lead and a 23-9 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Colts were outplaying the Texans in all three phases and had put together their most complete game of the season. And then, somehow, they managed to blow a 14-point lead within the final three minutes of the game to Brock Osweiler. Yeah, that’s bad. The teams went to overtime tied at 23, and Houston wound up winning 26-23.
The Colts must still be kicking themselves over that one, and if they don’t end up making the playoffs that game against the Texans in week six will perhaps be the biggest reason why. The win would have moved the Colts to 3-3 on the year and dropped the Texans to 3-3, while giving the Colts the head-to-head tiebreaker for first place. And despite several weeks having gone by since then, the game is still the difference for the Colts between first place in the division and third place (where they’re at currently). If the Colts had only managed to not totally implode in the final three minutes, they’d be leading the AFC South and hold the tiebreaker over the Texans, putting them in good position to try to close it out and make the playoffs. Instead, they’re the team playing catch-up.
There are still five weeks left in the season and plenty of time for the Colts to make a move and make the postseason, but it will take a strong push over the final five weeks to win the AFC South. If they’re not able to do that, we’ll likely look back on that mid-October collapse as the biggest reason why.