It wasn’t pretty, and it won’t be filed away in a time capsule, but Indianapolis Colts fans should rejoice because in Houston their team found a way to hold on to a lead.
Thursday’s torn ACL to Houston Texans starting QB Deshaun Watson played a huge role in the Colts’ third win of the 2017 season. Tom Savage was awful as his replacement for the first 50 minutes of the game.
The Colts completely dominated in every phase until the Colts did what the Colts have done all season — allow late movement for the opposing offense. If not for the fumble recovered by the Texans and returned for a touchdown with 56 seconds left in the second quarter, the Colts might have salted away this game by halftime.
Even with the scoop and score, the Texans could not amass the firepower required to finish their attempted comeback.
This game would not have been worth watching if not for these five lessons we learned in the investment:
5. Jacoby Brissett is a starter-caliber NFL quarterback
In five of eight starts this season for the Colts, Brissett has posted a passer rating of 80 or better five times. His work Sunday was superb, completing 20 of 30 for 308 yards and two TDs. His passer rating was a career-best 122.6, and best of all he was sacked only three times. When Andrew Luck returns, there is no doubt who the starter will be, but Brissett is certainly good enough to start somewhere, or be one of the most dynamic backups in the league.
4. No lead is safe for the Colts
With the Texans not moving the ball or threatening to score offensively, the Colts appeared safe with their 20-7 lead.
Then, “Colts” happened — again. With 9:12 remaining, and Savage a disaster to that point, the Texans figured some things out. In actuality, the Colts’ change of scheme may have had more to do with Savage’s transformation into competence, but the point is that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way the Colts close games. It all worked out Sunday, but it almost didn’t.
3. Bill O’Brien forgot the one lesson he should have learned from Bill Belichick
If there is one thing opposing coaches know about Belichick’s defensive scheme, it’s that you better have a Plan B ready, because Belichick is going to take away Plan A. There is one player on the Colts’ roster who can beat opponents, and he is exactly the guy who beat the Texans Sunday afternoon.
In Indianapolis’ lone two wins before Sunday, T.Y. Hilton averaged seven catches for 165 yards. In the other six games, Hilton totaled 15 catches for 197 yards. Sunday, the Texans allowed Hilton to grab five balls for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Stop Hilton, stop the Colts. It’s that simple.
2. Indianapolis is might not be as terrible as advertised
You’ll notice I used the word “might,” because convincing me they are anything but a bad team very fortunate to win three games takes some selling. After nine games, the Colts are a very pedestrian 3-6, but if they had beaten the Bengals last weekend as they should have, they would be 4-5. If the OT loss to the Cardinals had gone the other way, the Colts would be 5-4. Five wins lead the AFC South right now.
1. Deshaun Watson was the key to the Texans’ success
Nothing against the Colts’ win. Hey, a win is a win in the National Football League, but Savage is only similar to Watson in what he tells people he does for a living. Yes, he is an NFL quarterback, but that is where the similarities end. With Watson as quarterback over the past five games, the Texans scored a minimum of 33 points. Half of their 14 points were made possible by the defensive score near the end of the first half.
For those who can’t get enough of watching the Colts and the Texans try to figure out who’s worse, an encore of this matchup is on tap in Indy on New Year’s Eve. Let’s hope it’s not the highlight of your celebration.
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