USA TODAY Sports
The Colts' emotions were running high from the start as head coach Chuck Pagano's return to the sideline fueled the team to a big win over the Texans on Sunday. Now, Houston needs New England or Denver to lose in order to secure a week off to start the postseason.
The Colts seemed to be emotionally charged from the start, after Pagano received a standing ovation from the fans as well as players and coaches on both sides. From there, Indianapolis embarked on a 13-play, 75-yard drive on its first possession, which resulted in a 1-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to Coby Fleener. Although Houston answered with two field goals from Shayne Graham, the Colts continued to put touchdowns on the board, with Vick Ballard's 1-yard run at the 2:06 mark in the second quarter giving Indianapolis an eight-point lead heading into the break.
Houston took a brief lead with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter, when Graham followed a 13-yard touchdown run from Arian Foster with a 37-yard field goal to make it a 16-14 game. However, the Colts' Deji Karim returned the ensuing kickoff 101 yards, reclaiming the lead for his squad.
Luck connected with T.Y. Hilton for a 70-yard TD strike on the Colts' next offensive series, and Vontae Davis intercepted Matt Schaub in the end zone on Houston's next possession to essentially seal the victory.
Luck didn't have great numbers, but he did a good job of taking care of the football and finished the game completing 14-of-28 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Schaub, on the other hand, did not take care of the football. His second-quarter interception led to an Indianapolis touchdown, and his fourth-quarter pick in the end zone ended the Texans' chance to get some much-needed points.
Luck's touchdown pass to Hilton was a thing of beauty, and that wasn't lost on people:
Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton touchdown pass was one of the prettiest throws anyone has ever seen. Dilfer, get your "dime'' package ready.— Don Banks (@DonBanks) December 30, 2012
Wow ... Andrew Luck!— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 30, 2012
ANDREW LUCK !!!!!— David Locke (@Lockedonsports) December 30, 2012
Stat of the game
The Colts picked up the victory despite being outgained by the Texans, 352 total yards to 265.
T.Y. Hilton finished with four catches for 111 yards and a touchdown to lead the Colts.. In a losing effort, the Texans received solid performances from Andre Johnson (12 catches for 141 yards) and Arian Foster (16 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown).
The Texans entered the game as 6 1/2-point favorites. A 12-point loss was certainly surprising.
Next team on the schedule
The Colts and Texans will have to await the completion of other games in order to find out who they'll face in the AFC playoffs. Although, with Baltimore trailing to Cincinnati late, it appears the Colts will draw the Ravens in the opening round.