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Colts 2016 season in review: Week six loss to the Texans

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As part of our look back at the 2016 season for the Indianapolis Colts, we’re taking a look at each game the team played this season. We know that won’t be the most fun experience for Colts fans, but we’re taking a look back at each game within the context of the entire season. Today we continue the series with the week six loss to the Texans:

What Happened:

The Colts had started the 2016 season off poorly and were just 2-3 entering their week six game in Houston against the Texans, but with a win they could take control of first place in the AFC South. For most of the game, it looked like they were going to do just that, as they put together their best three and a half quarters of the season by far up to that point. The Colts jumped out to a 13-0 first half lead and held a 13-3 edge at halftime, and after a Texans touchdown in the third quarter the Colts added ten more points in the first half of the fourth quarter to take a 23-9 lead. And it was at that point, with a 14 point lead, that the Colts completely collapsed. Lamar Miller scored on a pass from Brock Osweiler with 2:37 left to make it 23-16, and the Colts promptly went three-and-out (losing eleven yards) and had to punt the ball back to the Texans. It took them just three plays to tie it up, as Brock Osweiler hit C.J. Fiedorowicz for a 26-yard score to tie things up at 23 with 49 seconds left. The Colts got the ball first in overtime but had to punt, and the Texans then won it on a 33-yard field goal on the next possession. The Colts had allowed Brock Osweiler and the Texans to score 14 unanswered points in the final 2:37 of the game to tie it up and then win it in overtime.

What We Said at the Time:

The Colts are now in last place of the AFC South, as they fall to 2-4 on the season. The Jacksonville Jaguars are 2-3, but because they have fewer losses (thanks to their bye week) they’re ahead of the Colts, though they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker anyway. The Texans improve to 4-2 on the year and remain in first place, increasing the lead over Indianapolis and making it even more difficult for the Colts to try to climb out of the hole. We saw tonight how bad the AFC South is, but we also saw that the Colts are just as bad - and probably worse - than the rest of the division. And when the Colts blow a 14 point fourth quarter lead on the road to the Texans in a huge game like this, it’s hard not to wonder if this loss will have a crushing effect on the Colts’ 2016 season - and on Chuck Pagano’s future as the team’s head coach.

What We’re Saying Now:

There’s no doubt about it: this game was by far the most painful loss for the Colts in 2016 and, along with the second loss to the Texans in December, the most impactful one too. The Colts had the game in their grasp with their sights set on stabilizing their season and jumping to the front of the division... and then they blew a big lead to Brock Osweiler and the Texans. The Lions loss in week one was painful after the defense blew it in the final minute, but this loss topped it. A division rival, on the road, and with a double-digit lead with a few minutes left to play. Looking back on the 2016 season, if the Colts had simply held on to their lead, they would have won the division and made the playoffs, getting a favorable first round matchup with the Raiders. At the time, we wrote that the loss represented the low point of the Chuck Pagano era, and it still looks that way too. Though the second game against the Texans was a crushing loss too, the Colts didn’t blow a big lead in the final few minutes in that one. The Colts completely unraveled in this week five game against the Texans, and looking back on the season it’s just as significant and painful as it was at the time. One thing we were wrong about at the time, though? Thinking this loss might mark the beginning of the end of Pagano’s tenure with the team. He’ll be back for 2017.