News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 5, 2013

Colts work magic again, find way to win

Quarterback Andrew Luck leads 10th fourth-quarter rally in last two seasons

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Good teams find a way to win. Bad or struggling teams usually find a way to lose.

That’s as much of a reason — along with the play of quarterback Andrew Luck — as how the Indianapolis Colts staged their 10th fourth-quarter come-from-behind win over the past two seasons Sunday night in Houston.

The Colts rallied for a 27-24 AFC South win over the Texans, giving coach Chuck Pagano’s team a 6-2 record and a two-game hold on the division.

Indianapolis will now face the St. Louis Rams in a home game at Lucas Oil Stadium next Sunday.

“If I would have had a sharp object in my pocket, I might have used it. I didn’t, so again you just keep pressing. You just keep fighting. You stick to the process. We’ve been there before,” Pagano said about the Colts’ sluggish start against Houston.

“This team has no quit in it. Still felt like if we go out and play Colts football in the second half and execute and start doing [what they’re supposed to do]. Everybody just do their job, we can get out of there with a victory.”

Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman said it best.

“Get the ball to [Colts quarterback Andrew Luck] and let him work his magic. If we give him the ball enough, he’s going to make things happen and you see what he did,” Freeman explained.

“He’s got some weapons over there [on offense], so we just have to do our part on defense, try to get off the field on third downs and not let [Houston’s offense] get driving.”

Pagano, though, knows that Indianapolis can’t afford to keep digging itself into an early hole during games and hope to climb out every time.

“Our guys know that regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the score, until the last tick is off the play clock, you’ve got a chance if you’ll just stick to the process,” he said. “But we’re going to look at this [game] tape and [the players] are going to be able to look at this tape and be able to see so many things that we can do so much better and try to make things a heck of lot easier on us moving forward in the second half of this season.

“We feel good where we’re sitting right now, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

• • •

• Luck again — The Colts’ second-year signal-caller recorded his second three-touchdown, zero-interception game of the year in the win over Houston. He had his first such game two weeks earlier against Denver. Luck did not have any games like that as a rookie last season.

The win over Houston was Luck’s 10th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime and his third this season. It’s the most by a quarterback in their first two years in the league dating back to the Super Bowl era.

• Houston, we have a problem — In three career games against the Texans, Luck has thrown for 648 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has a 2-1 career record vs. his hometown team.

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has 14 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns in his three career games against Houston. He has touchdown receptions covering 70, 61, 58, 10 and 9 yards.

Finally, three of the Colts’ biggest comeback victories have occurred at Houston’s Reliant Stadium: 17 points in 2008/2009 and18 points Sunday night. Indianapolis trailed 21-3 before starting its comeback.

• Injury list — Wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey (head) left the Houston game in the second half and did not return. It was initially thought to be a concussion, but Heyward-Bey’s tests were negative. He will continue to be monitored this week.

Cornerbacks Greg Toler (groin) and Josh Gordy (groin), nose tackle Josh Chapman (knee) and outside linebacker Cam Johnson (knee) did not play against the Texans. Toler, Chapman and Johnson hope to be available for Sunday’s game with the Rams.

• Pagano well wishes — The Colts’ coach said Monday that he has texted Denver coach John Fox and Houston coach Gary Kubiak as they contend with medical issues.

Fox underwent surgery to replace an aortic valve Monday after complaining of being lightheaded Saturday while playing a round of golf in North Carolina. He is expected to miss a month before being able to return to the sidelines. Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was named as the team’s interim coach Monday.

Kubiak, meanwhile, collapsed Sunday night as he was walking off the field at halftime in Houston. The Texans’ coach remains in a Houston hospital as he undergoes a battery of tests.

Pagano experienced his own health issues a year ago when he battled a form of leukemia.

“I reached out to coach Fox when he had his episode, sent him a text and just let him know we were thinking about him and keeping him in our thoughts and prayers. Same thing with coach Kubiak. I’m not sure where he’s at, but we’ve reached out and let those guys know that they’re in our thoughts and prayers,” the Colts’ coach said.

“Hopefully, they get things taken care of and get their health back. We’re lucky, we’re playing a kids game. Our players are playing a kids game. But real life is real life and if you don’t have your health, you really have nothing. I feel very fortunate, obviously, to have behind me what I went through. The game’s the game, but when it comes to a guy’s health and the things those guys are dealing with now, it’s not easy. Die a thousand deaths out there. This game can be hard on you, as we know.”