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 re-sign punter McAfee for five years
Shortly before 10 a.m. Friday, Pat McAfee — the Indianapolis Colts’ punter and kickoff specialist — tweeted that he had a special announcement to make at the top of the hour.
Colts excited to add talent, experience of D'Qwell Jackson
With the National Football League's veteran free agency period set to start on March 11, the Indianapolis Colts front office has started to make the decisions needed to retool for the 2014 season.
Former Cleveland Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who had been released by Cleveland on Feb. 26, signed a reported four-year, $22 million deal with Indianapolis on Thursday. Only the first two years of the contract are guaranteed.
Jackson (6-foot, 240) started 96-of-97 games over the past eight seasons with the Browns since being selected by the team in the second round of the 2006 draft. He played collegiately at Maryland.
EIU’s Garoppolo hopes to impress scouts
Let the Eastern Illinois University quarterback tradition continue.
Mike Shanahan, Jeff Christensen, Sean Payton, Tony Romo and, now, Jimmy Garoppolo. All were record-setting quarterbacks on the Division II and FCS levels.
Grigson says Colts likely not to make big splash in free agency
Don’t expect the Indianapolis Colts to go wild in the upcoming free-agent market.
While the Colts will have anywhere from $33 to $37 million to spend this offseason, Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson says the franchise will be a bit more selective when it comes to signing any prospective veteran free agents.
SEASON IN REVIEW: Colts make progress in 2013 season
The Indianapolis Colts made plenty of progress over the course of the 2013 season.
And the Colts fought through some adversity as injuries hit the team hard at several positions, most notably at wide receiver (Reggie Wayne), tight end (Dwayne Allen), running back (Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw), offensive line (Donald Thomas) and cornerback (Greg Toler).
Moving on: Coach likes what he sees, gets ready for phase three of Colts’ development
Time to move on. In the wake of the Indianapolis Colts’ 43-22 AFC divisional playoff loss at New England last Saturday night, head coach Chuck Pagano is ready to take time off and then start getting after it again late this spring.
Blunt force trauma: Patriots running game too much for Colts
LeGarrette Blount ran the New England Patriots into their third straight AFC championship game.
The 250-pound back had four touchdown runs and New England kept Andrew Luck from a second straight comeback win to beat the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 Sunday night.
‘Still the same Tom’
How do you attempt to stop, or even slow down, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?
Belichick impressed with Luck's skills, poise under pressure
Bill Belichick doesn’t have to be reminded about the talents of Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
Although Belichick’s New England Patriots handed the Colts a 59-24 loss in Foxboro last year, he came away from the game with plenty of respect for the young signal caller.
Colts, Patriots, both with many new faces, to meet in playoffs for fourth time
Here we go again. Yet another Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots playoff game.
Up next for Colts: Brady, Patriots
Hello Tom Brady.
Thanks to the San Diego Chargers’ 27-10 AFC wild-card playoff win over Cincinnati on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Indianapolis Colts will be traveling to Foxboro, Massachusetts to face Brady’s New England Patriots Saturday (8:15 p.m.).
Luck leads huge rally as Colts grab first playoff win for Pagano
What a game.
Just when it looked like the Indianapolis Colts were going to be blown out at home in an AFC wild-card playoff game by the Kansas City Chiefs, the impossible happened.
Colts sell out today's Kansas City game
There will be no local television blackouts in the NFL this weekend.
The Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers said Friday that their weekend wild-card playoff games are sellouts. Normally, teams must sell out 72 hours before kickoff to have a game broadcast in their local market. The NFL gave the Colts, Bengals and Packers an extra day to do it.
The Colts host Kansas City today. On Sunday, the Packers host San Francisco and the Bengals host San Diego.
NFL honors Colts' Mathis with Deacon Jones Award
Robert Mathis never got to see Deacon Jones take down opposing quarterbacks in person.
He learned to appreciate Jones’ creativity over time.
The Colts Pro Bowl linebacker and newly crowned sacks champion was honored Thursday as the inaugural winner of the NFL’s Deacon Jones Award, which goes to the league’s sacks leader. Mathis will be recognized at the NFL award banquet Feb. 1.
Victory over Chiefs means nil, Mathis says
Robert Mathis doesn’t care that the Indianapolis Colts registered a 23-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium two weeks ago.
Record-setting Indy win
Finish the National Football League regular season strong. That’s what the Indianapolis Colts wanted to accomplish Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
In major gain, Colts lead NFL in fewest turnovers
Play clean. That’s been a credo that the Indianapolis Colts have tried to live by this season.
Has Luck's growth been accelerated by Colts' adversity? Probably
Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck is quickly becoming known as a guy who can quickly adjust to any situation.
Toeing the line: Colts’ offensive line getting healthy, finding niche as playoffs near
The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line has certainly taken its share of hits this season, both on and off the field.
Colts’ chief strength: No panic
The Indianapolis Colts had watched the Kansas City Chiefs march downfield for an easy score on the first series of the game, yet nobody on their sideline seemed to be worried.
In fact, it seemed as if their confidence soared.
Luck has knack for knowing when to run
To run or not to run. When it comes to Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck, his competitive nature usually comes into play.
Loss at Chiefs could cost Colts bye in playoffs
Chuck Pagano doesn’t have to make his Indianapolis Colts players aware of the playoff implications surrounding the team’s road game at Kansas City on Sunday.
Back in the mix: Colts are hoping to improve their playoff seeding in final two weeks of NFL’s regular season
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano stresses that he is not a scoreboard watcher when it comes to other National Football League games.
Back in stride: Colts finally put points on board early, roll to ninth victory of season
It had been a long time in coming, a National Football League game in which the Indianapolis Colts had a comfortable lead well into the second half.
Whalen, Richardson make waves on offense
It’s not too hard to figure out who the offensive and defensive players of the game were in the Indianapolis Colts’ 25-3 win over Houston Sunday.
Mathis, Colts hoping to gain defensive momentum against Texans
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, one of the Indianapolis Colts two most vested veterans, has taken it upon himself to make sure his team is ready for Sunday’s AFC South matchup with Houston (1 p.m., CBS Sports).
Mathis and injured wide receiver Reggie Wayne have been with the Colts the longest. They, along with defensive end Cory Redding and safety Antoine Bethea, have become important voices in the Indianapolis locker room.
Colts not apologizing for way they won division title
Backing into the AFC South title? The Indianapolis Colts are not apologizing to anyone for claiming the franchise’s eighth division crown since the start of the 2002 season.
Bungles — including refs’ — benefit Bengals
Give the Cincinnati Bengals plenty of credit. In a game that pitted two of the AFC’s better teams and two of the National Football League’s best young quarterbacks, the home-standing Bengals took care of business.
Many doubt Cincy runner scored on goal-line play
Did he make it or didn’t he?
Was Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis stopped on fourth down short of the end zone or did he make to the end zone without being touched?
Heavy snow appears in forecast for Colts
Growing up in Houston, Texas, Andrew Luck doesn’t have a history of playing a lot of football in the snow or in snowy conditions. But if weather forecasts for this weekend remain on track, Sunday’s AFC battle between the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals may be severely tested by the weather.
- More Colts Headlines
- Colts re-sign punter McAfee for five years