The Indianapolis Colts came to Houston hoping to take back the AFC South title.
Instead, the Texans (12-2) won 29-17 on Sunday to take the division for the second straight year.
Andrew Luck matched a season-low for yards passing and was sacked five times, and the Colts saw their latest comeback attempt foiled. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak and still leaves them one win away from clinching an unlikely playoff spot.
“There’s still a chance to make the tournament,” Luck said. “We’ll fight for that.”
The Colts are a surprising 9-5 after going 2-14 last season.
“It was a tough loss for us in that we came here with one idea and that was to win the division,” Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said. “And we’re not going to win the division — they did it.”
In rather convincing fashion, too.
“I think (the Texans) did a great job defensively of never letting us establish a rhythm,” said Luck, who finished with 186 yards on 13 for 27 passing. “They definitely brought the pressure to us as opposed to us bringing it to them and forced us into some bad decisions.”
Luck, despite a rare poor game in his rookie season, has thrown for 3,978 yards and needs 74 yards to surpass Cam Newton’s NFL rookie record of 4,051.
Rookie Vick Ballard ran for a career-high 105 yards for the Colts, and T.Y. Hilton caught three passes for 78 yards, including a 61-yard TD catch.
The Colts made too many mistakes to overcome.
“Obviously we can’t come into a stadium like this and beat ourselves, having blocked kicks, 1 for 8 on third down and 1 for 3 in the red zone,” Arians said. “The penalties hurt us, and we beat ourselves in some areas.”
The Colts also wasted chances in the second half, when the defense seemed to put the clamps on Matt Schaub and the Texans.
“For our defense to keep us in the game and us to not really take advantage of those opportunities when they showed was, I think, a downfall for us,” Luck said.
Luck entered the game having led the Colts to six wins on drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, the most by a rookie since 1970.
Indianapolis outscored Houston 14-9 beginning with Dwayne Allen’s TD catch with 1:07 left in the first half to get within six points of the Texans late in the third.
But Houston’s defense shut down Luck and the Colts after that, and the Texans used Arian Foster to eat up the clock. Foster ran for a season-high 165 yards to up his total to 1,313 yards — his third straight year with at least 1,200.
Andre Johnson had 151 yards receiving and a touchdown, Bryan Braman scored a special teams touchdown on a blocked punt, and Shayne Graham kicked five field goals for Houston, which bounced back from an embarrassing 42-14 loss to New England on national television six days earlier.
The Texans grabbed their first AFC South title last season after the Colts nosedived without injured quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning is gone to Denver and Luck couldn’t do much against an inspired Houston defense led by J.J. Watt, who finished with a game-high three sacks and 10 tackles to go with a forced fumble.
Luck is from Houston, but said his focus was on winning the divisional game and not his homecoming.
“This is a business trip, and unfortunately we didn’t come up out on top,” Luck said.
Luck was sacked five times playing behind a makeshift offensive line missing center Samson Satele (ankle) and right tackle Winston Justice (biceps).
Johnson scored on a 3-yard reception to make it 10-0 in the first quarter.
The Texans didn’t score a touchdown on offense after that, but were helped by Braman’s special teams effort.
Braman blocked his second punt of the season, recovered it and returned it 8 yards for his first career touchdown to make it 20-3 just before halftime.
Ballard had 60 yards rushing on a Colts drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown reception by Dwayne Allen to cut Houston’s lead to 23-17 in the third quarter.
Houston couldn’t do anything on its next drive and punted. But Indy sputtered, and Arians even drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a punt, giving Houston the ball at the Colts 39.
Graham added a 46-yard field goal to push the lead to 26-17 and made his fifth field goal with about a minute left.
Hilton and Luck connected on a 61-yard touchdown pass just before halftime.
Watt’s forced fumble on Mewelde Moore on the Houston 1 was recovered by Tim Dobbins early in the second quarter, robbing the Colts of points. And the Colts stalled inside the red zone again and had to settle for Adam Vinatieri’s 26-yard field goal to cut Houston’s lead to 10-3.
NOTES: Colts defenders Antoine Bethea, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis each recorded a sack on Texans QB Matt Schaub. ... WR Reggie Wayne finished with a season-low 14 yards on three receptions. ... The Colts committed eight penalties totaling 79 yards.
The Indianapolis Colts came to Houston hoping to take back the AFC South title.
Colts not standing pat in looking toward 2013 season
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He understands their concerns, but isn’t worried about learning the intricacies Colts’ 3-4 hybrid package.
Colts in harmony with new coordinator Hamilton
With new Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton now running the show, the Colts are in the middle of a metamorphosis from the downfield, big-play system that was utilized by former coordinator Bruce Arians to more of a West Coast scheme that will look to make more use of the short, controlled passing game.
According to Andrew Luck, so far so good.
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Luck having fun with his first OTAs
A year ago, quarterback Andrew Luck was unable to attend the Indianapolis Colts’ organized team activity practices due to school commitments at Stanford.
Luck, though, went on to have a stellar year for the Colts despite the lack of summer work with the team. Still, in a sense, he is a rookie during this year’s OTA workouts.
“These are my first OTAs. I missed these last year, so I think it’s great. It’s great to get on the field with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff. Obviously, some of us ran some of this stuff [offense] at Stanford [under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton]. But to get out there with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff is good,” Luck said Wednesday as the team wrapped up its first week of on-field voluntary practice sessions.
Colts' coordinators enjoying getting rookies acclimated
While the Indianapolis Colts put their rookies and a handful of second-year players through workouts this weekend at the team’s Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, a pair of first-year coordinators are getting a chance to do some valuable on-field work as well.
Werner, 36 others open Colts’ mini camp
The Indianapolis Colts welcomed 37 players to the start of the team’s rookie mini camp Friday at the West 56th Street headquarters.
Colts hoping for more high marks on draft picks
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
Of the 10 players selected, five ended up either starting or seeing extensive playing time (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Vick Ballard) during the Colts’ 11-5 season.
While this year’s class may not rival that group in terms of name recognition and flash, it may produce just as many major contributors once the 2013 season gets underway.
Werner at top of game
Bjoern Werner was a late comer to football. But after being selected in the first round of the 2013 National Football League draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Werner realizes that he has reached the pinnacle of the sport in a relatively short amount of time.
Colts select pass rusher Werner in first round
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Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft
As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.
There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.
As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.
Direction clear for Colts in 2013 draft
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Colts veteran among those excited to see Luck's growth in 2013-14
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Redding, who has become one of the Colts’ lockerroom leaders after just one season with the team, thinks he has some reasonable expectations of Indianapolis’ former No. 1 draft pick.
Heyward-Bey feeling fortunate to hook up with Luck
Add one more player to the list of veteran free agents signed by the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey agreed to a a deal with the Colts late Monday evening. Bey, who played collegiately at Maryland, was the seventh player selected in the first round of the 2009 National Football League draft.
Colts sign nose tackle
Another day, more player signings for the Indianapolis Colts.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin agreed to terms with the Colts on Tuesday evening and officially signed with the team Wednesday. Franklin (6-1, 315) is a 10-year NFL veteran with stops in Baltimore (2003-06), San Francisco (2007-10), New Orleans (2011) and San Diego (2012).
Colts sign Matt Hasselbeck to back up Luck
The Indianapolis Colts’ roster moves just keep coming.
While the Colts haven’t yet added that big-name wide receiver that team owner Jim Irsay hinted at in tweets over the weekend, Indianapolis has addressed one area on offense.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had agreed Monday night to be the Colts’ primary back-up to second-year starter Andrew Luck. He officially signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of Matt Hasselbeck,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves. Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
Colts likely done signing free agents, for now
With the possible exception of adding a few lesser-priced players, the Indianapolis Colts’ big-time foray into the veteran free-agent marketplace is pretty much done.
Landry, Jean Francois join Colts defensive unit
After adding five veteran free agent players to the Indianapolis Colts roster on Tuesday, general manager Ryan Grigson plucked two more plums late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.
New York Jets safety LaRon Landry and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois both signed contracts with the Colts. Landry, a strong safety who appears to be a bigger version of former Indianapolis Pro Bowler Bob Sanders, and the versatile Jean-Francois are expected to make immediate impacts on the Colts’ defensive unit.
Colts introduce free-agent signees
What the Indianapolis Colts accomplished last season — posting an 11-5 record and earning an AFC wild-card berth with a young team plus having that kind of success without its head coach on the sidelines for 12 games — didn’t go unnoticed by players around the NFL.
That was especially true for the five veteran free agents who were added to the Colts’ roster Tuesday. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (Detroit), cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona), outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay), offensive guard Donald Thomas (New England) and linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (Atlanta) admitted as much Wednesday.
“I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career. I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape. I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Thomas said during a teleconference interview with the Colts’ media.
Colts sign five free agents, filling needs at offensive line, cornerback
The Indianapolis Colts were a busy team on the opening day of the National Football League’s veteran free agent market, which got underway at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt
An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
The 14-year veteran center in the NFL put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — when Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday thrilled to retire as a Colt
The 14-year veteran center in the National Football League put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in-between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — that Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday to retire as Colt on Thursday
Former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday will make his retirement from the National Football League official on Thursday.
Indianapolis franchises punter McAfee
A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who’s contract is due to expire March 12, was designated as the Colts’ franchise player Friday. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team’s special-teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed,” Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. “We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
Colts GM enjoying time at combine
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Colts keeping eye on large crop of talented linemen in NFL Draft
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Among the offensive line candidates who have been showcasing their talents at the National Football Scouting Combine, which began in earnest Thursday and wraps up on Tuesday, the spotlight has been on the offensive tackles. Offensive left tackles in particular.
Colts' Pagano back to full work schedule at combine
Back and ready to go.
That’s the attitude Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is taking during the National Football Scouting Combine, which completed its second day of operations Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. During a wide-ranging press conference at the combine, Pagano confirmed that he is back to a full work regimen after missing 12 games last fall as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
After undergoing cancer treatments that featured heavy doses of chemotherapy, the second-year head coach was able to return to the sidelines for Indianapolis’ final regular-season home game against Houston and for the team’s AFC wild-card matchup with eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Colts looking forward to different approach to draft in 2013
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Colts would select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the selection. While Indianapolis front office and player personnel officials certainly had to do their due diligence in preparing for the draft, the Colts find themselves this year in a bit different situation.
The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
Former Pro Bowl selection Freeney won't return to Colts
The news coming out of the Indianapolis Colts headquarters Friday afternoon was not totally unexpected. Team officials have confirmed that two veteran players – former Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie — will not be returning for the 2013 season.
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