The Indianapolis Colts traveled to play the Houston Texans for their second meeting of the season in hopes of regaining their offensive prowess that they put on display during a long win streak. Things did not start out well, though, on that side of the ball for the Colts as they failed to earn a first down in the first quarter, and things only got worse as the defense was at the mercy of some really poor officiating early on as well.
The Colts defense, again, played very well to keep the damage to a minimum while the offense was struggling, but thankfully the Colts got back on track with the football. In the end, the Colts were able to squeak another win out — 24-21 — as they’ve now won 6 of their last 7 games with the Wild Card race heating up in the AFC. Here are a few takeaways from the Colts big divisional win over the Texans.
T.Y. Hilton tears up the Texans secondary yet again
Is there any more of a sure thing than to say that Hilton is going to destroy the Texans’ defense — especially when the game is in Houston? Not only did Hilton shred the secondary again today, but he accumulated a large portion of those yards while visibly being less-than-healthy.
Today Hilton put up 199 yards on 9 catches (22.1 yards per reception), and added to his impressive totals when he plays at NRG Stadium. Hilton has now put up 933 receiving yards on 41 catches (22.75 yards per catch) while playing in Houston and continued a very nice stretch of the season for him in which he’d put up 466 receiving yards over the past four games.
Hilton has now amassed 665 yards in his last 5 games alone. That’s pretty impressive.
I myself have questioned whether or not Hilton was a true No. 1 receiver, and at least as of late Hilton has put those questions to bed. He tends to do that pretty regularly once his status is questioned, actually. One thing that cannot be disputed is that Hilton’s importance to the viability to the Colts offense, especially this year.
Luck doesn’t have much in the way of playmakers in the receiving corps this year, and it’s equally impressive that Hilton continues to produce in all areas of the field with that fact riding on his shoulders.
Colts defense continues to get into opponent’s backfield
The Indianapolis Colts had totaled 51 tackles for loss previous to their Week 14 matchup with the Houston Texans, and they continued their impressive play in that regard Sunday afternoon. The Colts racked up 9 TFLs, and 5 sacks today as they disrupted the red hot Texans’ offense and their signal caller Deshaun Watson and their running backs.
The Colts, as a whole, also continued their very good run defense that they’ve featured this year as they’ve only allowed 3.9 yards per rush — good for 7th in the league. The Colts only allowed 2.7 yards per attempt(54 yards on 20 carries) from the Texans’ running backs today, and this late in the season there’s no argument that it’s no fluke from this young squad.
If the Colts are able to squeeze their way into the playoffs, their ability to continue to disrupt the opposing offense’s backfield will play a large role in how far they could potentially go.
The Colts’ running game simply must get it together
Over the previous four games to Week 14, the Colts rushing attack had accrued 342 yards on 93 carries (3.68 YPC). There’s very little that’s impressive about those numbers, regardless of the consideration to how great Luck has been through the overwhelming majority of the season.
Today, the Colts could only manage 34 rushing yards on 17 carries (2 yards per carry) from their running backs, and that cannot become the norm for a backfield that has to complement the passing game in order for them to maintain any success with the ball in their hands.
At first blush, it’s hard to say whether it might be the run blocking up front, the backs themselves who just aren’t getting it done, or a combination of the two. Either way, Frank Reich and his offensive staff have got to put their brains together to figure out the issue. It’d be one thing had the running game failed to show what they can accomplish at all this season, but we absolutely have seen the potential in this case.
I don’t think anyone expects them to break the 200-yard mark every week on the ground, but something close to a 4.5-yard per carry average certainly shouldn’t be too much to ask either.