INDIANAPOLIS – Two weeks later, the Indianapolis Colts celebrated again in the end and the Houston Texans shook their heads.
Linebacker Darius Leonard threw Keke Coutee’s soccer ball at the 2-yard line and linebacker Bobby Okereke recovered in the end zone for a touchback. 19 seconds before the 27:20 Colts win on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It lets you know we will fight to the finish,” said Leonard.
“The Maniac” and Safety Khari Willis led the Colts with a total of nine tackles and each forced a fumble that the home team regained.
“It’s crazy. It’s crazy,” said Colt’s head coach Frank Reich. “Players play in the clutch when necessary.”
Two games ago, the Texans were two yards from a potential game win when a bad snap led to a fiddly recovery from linebacker Anthony Walker. 1:22 stayed on a 26-20 Colts win in Houston.
The Colts (10-4) have won five out of six, and two-time AFC South Division defending champions Texans (4-10) allow Indy to maintain sixth AFC playoff starting spot two weeks from time. Although the Colts rank first in the division with the Tennessee Titans, they don’t have a division tiebreaker.
That’s why Sunday was important. It kept the Colts in a solid postseason position with two games remaining in the regular season. The Colts will be with the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday and then face the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-12) at home. The Jags’ only win came in Week 1 against the Colts.
A strong start and an effective pass rush enabled the Colts to fend off the Texans. The Colts led 14-0 early on and fired Texas quarterback Deshaun Watson five times for the second time in a row, but had to rally late after Coutee played the game with 20 on a 9-yard TD catch with 7:25 minutes Had ended. It was only the second touchdown the Colts fifth-placed defense allowed in the second half of their last six games.
Back came rivers and the passing away. The Colts were watching a second-and-20 pass game when wide receiver TY Hilton broke off in the middle for a 41-yard pass reception for the Texans’ 3. Hilton always seems to have the Texans’ number and hit the clutch again.
Two games later, Rivers hit Zach Pascal with a short pass at the apartment, and Pascal had to overpower a defender and extend about 2 meters to the pylon to get a 5 yard reception at 1:47.
Pascal caught an 11 yard TD pass in the first quarter. After the game, he gave his gloves to a young fan.
Pascal’s second score set the stage for more last-minute drama.
Coutee caught a 13-yard pass from Watson and was trying to reach the goal line when Leonard threw the ball at the 2-yard line. It ricocheted off into the end zone, where Okereke got out of the crowd with the recovery.
It’s not often that an NFL team gets lucky twice in the same season against the same opponent, let alone three games. The Colts will take it.
“I have a feeling at this point it is no longer a shock,” said Pascal of his defense. “We know the defense will make a game.”
The Colts are aware of something else as well.
“We know this marathon is not over yet,” said Reich.