The Houston Texans are in the middle of one of their worst seasons in recent memory, and today's game did nothing to improve it. Between a lack of talent at important positions, poor coaching decisions, and the most ridiculous schedule over the first quarter of the season I’ve ever seen, Houston has had a ton of obstacles to overcome. The Texans would be in great position to have a high selection in the 2021 draft had they not traded their picks to the Dolphins for Laremy Tunsil whom they then signed to a gigantic extension.
Mistakes were made by both teams in this one, and it felt as if the Colts were going to give this game away. In the end, a win is a win, but Indianapolis will need to play better than they did today to win against these Texans in week 17.
In the beginning
From the first drive, the Colts defensive line made it clear they were going to give the Texans offensive line fits all day long.
The first half was pretty fun to watch
T.Y. Hilton hasn’t had a good season by his standards but he did everything he could to turn his season around today.
I don’t know about you, but he looks fast to me
This was vintage T.Y. Hilton. It was good to see Philip Rivers look his way and it was great to see Hilton make the most of the opportunities he was given.
Issues up front for the Texans
DeForest Buckner finally was able to get to the quarterback for a sack, bringing Deshaun Watson down. Buckner had multiple hits on the QB, per usual, but today had to be satisfying for the talented defensive tackle.
I had a few problems
My computer is having more issues than the Colts right now but I'll try to get it fixed and keep the highlights coming.— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) December 6, 2020
I righted the ship eventually but there are some plays missing that could have easily made the article, like Nyheim Hines’ rushing touchdown.
The ruling on the field was an incomplete pass but Frank Reich used a challenge and as a result, it was overturned. Based on his reaction, I don’t think Hilton even knew he had made the catch. Ultimately this was just an amazing play.
Another good week for the rookie
The Texans blew this play, they sent a blitz and manned up on everyone but Jonathan Taylor. Rivers spotted the error and Taylor took the ball 39 yards into the endzone. Taylor’s nice day wasn’t done.
Great players make great plays
Deshaun Watson is good at football and he proved it on this play. There aren’t many quarterbacks who are capable of making this play, and without Watson this game would have been out of reach very early for these Texans.
The Watson Effect
Because Watson is so good at creating on his own, the Texans can afford to be creative on offense. We saw later in the game that the Texans aren’t afraid to use their franchise quarterback on a true option run so the Colts defense was hesitant to crash down on this run, instead choosing to stay home to defend against any creativity Houston might have cooked up.
TY Hilton did a whole game's worth of work in the first half. Things were looking up after 30 minutes.
Injuries are the worst
With Anthony Castonzo out, the Colts started Le’Raven Clark at left tackle. Clark went down with what appeared to be a serious lower leg injury. Chaz Green stepped in and for most of the game Green played a lot better than I expected him to. Eventually Chaz Green had a one on one rep against J.J. Watt and that went about as well as everyone expected it would.
Coming into the second half, Deshaun Watson had been interception-free longer than any other quarterback in Houston Texans history. In the first half Watson kept throwing at Kenny Moore II despite a complete lack of success doing so.
Apparently Moore was tired of the disrespect, went out and just took this ball away from the receiver. It was called an interception on the field and the Colts took possession.
Another bad rep
Everyone is going to remember these sacks and forget about the times he blocked pretty good. Having said that, Chaz Green isn’t good at playing tackle in the NFL. I don’t know what the Colts' plan is moving forward, but if Castonzo can’t play against the Raiders, the Colts are going to be in trouble a week from now.
Houston in Houston
If the CBS broadcast was correct, Justin Houston was credited with three sacks on the day and now leads the team with 7.5 on the season.
He’s seeing the field better
Jonathan Taylor saw the field really well today, showing a marked improvement over the first half of the season. Here he got the edge, made the first guy miss, and then picked up five yards after initial contact.
Another nice run
Sure, this hole was massive, but he cut to daylight and ended up with a huge gain after making a decision I’m not sure he would have made 8 weeks ago. Some people will probably have an issue with the way he finished the run. Instead of trying to outrun the defender or making him miss, he lowered his shoulder to initiate contact.
I don’t see this as an issue. He’s a 5’10” 226 pound running back. I would be more concerned if he didn’t want to initiate contact. Finishing runs like this shows me he wants to punish defenders, he doesn’t want to make it easy on a DB and just run out of bounds, he wants to make a smaller defender earn the tackle. I understand the argument that he should try to make him miss but I don’t think that’s who Taylor is, nor who he should try to be.
I love Frank Reich but this wasn’t a good decision
I don’t love running Hines up the middle on 4th and short but it’s not my biggest issue with this decision. My biggest issue is that they didn’t take the field goal to make it a seven point game.
The defense had been playing lights-out, so I understand why you would feel good about giving the Texans bad field position. On the other hand, wouldn’t you feel better having a touchdown and PAT cushion while letting the defense have a crack at them starting at the 25?
Frank Reich disagreed with me and went for it anyway.
Reich almost made me feel dumb for questioning the decision
Justin Houston is now tied for the all time safety record with four safeties recorded for his career. The Colts ran a stunt against the right side of the offensive line and Houston played it perfectly.
With the Colts getting the ball back, if they could just get into field goal range, going for that fourth down would have proven, somehow, to not be such a terrible decision. Terrible play call? Probably. But not a terrible decision overall.
More good signs from Taylor
On his last drive of the game Taylor displayed good vision and patience with the opportunities he had. Seeing the patience was a huge bonus. Earlier in the year Taylor would often bounce off the backs of his blockers at 100 miles per hour. These runs displayed a willingness to let his blocks develop in front of him before hitting his hole and making the most of what his talented blockers could do.
If Marlon Mack was elite at anything as a running back it was being patient and allowing his blocks to set up before using his vision to burst through. It seems that Jonathan Taylor has been watching some 2019 tape of Marlon Mack.
What followed these runs was another group of penalties late in a game that killed a Colts drive and almost lost them the game. The Colts ended up having to punt the ball away, giving Deshaun Watson nearly three minutes to drive the field and win the game for the Texans.
And he almost pulled it off
The Colts had used their final two timeouts in the two plays leading up to this one. Frank Reich was trying to preserve time so that if and when the Texans scored, his offense might have enough time to get in field goal range.
Somehow, someway, that didn’t end up being a concern.
Another computer issue cut this clip off early (it might have also been me being excited and hitting the button before I meant to) but Anthony Walker recovered the fumble and our Indianapolis Colts picked up the win.
Final Thoughts For The Week
The Houston Texans aren’t as bad as their record. They’re also probably not as good as they looked in the four weeks leading up to this game where they went 3-1, only losing to the 9 win Browns by a field goal. In reality they’re somewhere in between. They’re not good but they’re not awful. They’re capable of winning against anyone if that anyone makes the right mistake in just the right spot.
The Colts lucked out in the end given the fumble and recovery but were a few decisions and penalties away from this game not being competitive. Undoubtedly the Colts are the better team, but if they want to have any chance to beat the Steelers in a couple weeks (or even the Raiders next week) Frank Reich has to fix the mistakes his team, and he, is making late in games.
If they can figure that out, the post season could be a fun one this year.