When I first spied the Indianapolis Colts’ 2012 schedule, I thought it was pretty strange that they wouldn’t meet the Houston Texans until Week 15, but I didn’t dwell too long on the apparent anomaly. Coming off an ugly 2011 season and sporting a new leadership team and a rookie quarterback, the Colts looked to be likely losers in just about every game on the slate, while the Texans figured to be human steamrollers. As it turned out, the resurgent Colts and Andrew Luck turned the December 16 match-up into neat little package of playoff implications for both teams. When the dust cleared, the Colts found that they had left home without their customary magic dust, and they had to watch as the Texans celebrated a 29-17 victory that handed Houston their second consecutive division title.
For the Colts, this loss really came down to an of ugly play and the continued dominance by an old nemesis. As the first half wound down, Indianapolis trailed by ten and were facing an impossible fourth down, prompting them to punt the ball deep in their own territory. The problem with that plan is that the Texans blocked Pat McAfee’s kick, and then Bryan Braman scooped up the ball and ran eight yards for a touchdown. Even with that apparent back-breaker, Indy didn’t fold and actually scored a TD of their own in the less-than-two minutes remaining in the half. They would have had a pretty good chance to pull off another comeback were it not for the antics of Colt-killer Arian Foster.
Foster, the Houston running back who a few years ago joined the list of rushers to make their names against the Colts porous run defense, was the ultimate icer after halftime. Even though Luck managed to pull Indianapolis within six points late in the third quarter, Texans QB Matt Schaub calmly handed off to Foster time after time. As a result of this conservative approach, the Texans ate up the clock and tacked on three second-half field goals. In the process, Foster tallied 165 yards on 27 carries for 6.1 yards per, and he even broke one for 31 yards. He showed us all clearly that the Colts still have some work to do on their new 3-4 defense if they want to hang with the big-time playoff teams.
The good news is that the Colts still control their own path to the playoffs: win one and they’re in. Indy will also get another shot at the Texans in two weeks, this time in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium. If all goes well, maybe the two teams will meet for something even more meaningful a few weeks after that finale.
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Colts fans since the team arrived in Indianapolis on a snowy morning in 1984. The Blue and White eventually replaced the Chicago Bears as his #1 team, and Super Bowl XLI was a dream come true.