The Houston Texans pulled out an exhilarating 23-19 win over the Indianapolis Colts, punching a ticket to the playoffs. Listed below are three takeaways from the Texans’ dramatic win:
Texans’ unbelievable journey remains to be rolling: What a narrative the Texans are. A season faraway from a 3-13-1 end, they don’t seem to be solely 10-7 and headed to the postseason for the primary time since 2019, however the future can also be blindingly brilliant, paced by head coach DeMeco Ryans and quarterback C.J. Stroud.
Ryans and Stroud shined on the most important stage for both on the NFL stage in Week 18 towards the Colts. The Texans’ HC made the precise calls late, whereas their rookie QB performed enterprise like a grizzled veteran.
With the rating tied 17-17 with 7:13 left, Stroud orchestrated a 12-play, 73-yard game-winning drive. Deep into the collection, Stroud took an enormous hit within the pocket to attach on a 23-yard go to wideout Nico Collins, establishing a go-ahead three-yard landing by operating again Devin Singletary a play later.
On the night time, Stroud was 20-of-26 for 264 yards (10.2 YPC) with two TDs and nil interceptions. In the meantime, his favourite goal, Collins, secured 9 of 9 targets for 195 yards (21.7 YPC) and a rating.
Ryans and Stroud are the fifth first-year HC/rookie QB combo to succeed in the playoffs. Since 1950, solely John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco (2008), Mike Smith/Matt Ryan (2008), Rex Ryan/Mark Sanchez (2009) and Chuck Pagano/Andrew Luck (2012) have achieved the feat.
In the meantime, Stroud has emerged as one of many league’s greatest younger QBs. In Week 18, he turned solely the fifth rookie all-time to surpass 4,000 yards passing. Moreover, he is solely the third QB drafted No. 2 or increased to complete their first season with a profitable file, becoming a member of Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Texans’ protection weathered the storm vs. Colts: It wasn’t the prettiest efficiency, but it surely obtained the job completed. Enjoying crushed up whereas lacking a number of key gamers like defensive lineman Jonathan Greenard, the Texans’ protection stood up when essential, even when a controversial fourth-down name by the Colts with the sport on the road bailed them out.
Together with a cease late to all however safe the win, the unit clamped down on third down, holding the Colts to just one conversion on 11 makes an attempt. In the meantime, they saved Indy’s No. 1 receiving risk, Michael Pittman (5 catches, 44 yards), primarily below wraps.
What they did not do was cease electrical again Jonathan Taylor, who had his greatest recreation since Week 10 of the 2022 season. Taylor did no matter he needed towards the Texans third-ranked rush protection (88.5 YPG), ending the sport with 188 yards (30 carries) and a TD.
Houston did regulate late to decelerate Taylor and the Colts’ speeding assault. Nonetheless, it’s trigger for concern, particularly with the playoffs looming.
Questionable selections late will hang-out the Colts: Indianapolis did not play an ideal recreation. Nonetheless, down the stretch, they put themselves in place for a game-winning rating late, and if not for 2 curious selections late by head coach Shane Steichen, they might be on the best way to the playoffs as a substitute of residence.
Trailing by six, 23-17, the Colts confronted fourth-and-one from the Houston 15-yard line with 1:06 to go. Forward of the try, the Texans wasted roughly 30 seconds earlier than opting to take a timeout. Then, as a substitute of feeding Taylor, who discovered success all recreation and had carried the soccer on seven consecutive performs, Indy obtained difficult.
A second later, an off-target play-action go from QB Gardner Minshew slipped by way of the arms of RB Tyler Goodson, ending the Colts’ season.
Regardless of the logic in throwing a go to a again who’d touched the soccer solely 18 occasions coming into Sunday, Steichen mentioned after the sport that he “felt good” in regards to the name.
In his protection, it labored, type of. Minshew’s go was off beam, making it a harder catch than wanted. Nonetheless, it is one Goodson would like to have again.
Whereas the loss will take time to recover from, it should not damper what the group achieved, nor ought to it influence pleasure for the longer term. Steichen seems to be like the precise man for the job, and QB Anthony Richardson might be again in 2024.
The Colts surpassed expectations this season, and that is an excellent factor, regardless of the way it all ended.