The Indianapolis Colts wanted more than just their second consecutive victory after the return of starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett from a left knee injury. They wanted to regain the lead in the AFC South division with a win over Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans in Week 12. Both teams had 6-4 records heading into their Thursday Night Football matchup. Something had to give.
The Colts’ receiving corps got a boost with the return of No. 1 receiver T.Y. Hilton, who missed the previous three games with a calf injury. Prior to the AFC Wild Card Game against the Texans in January, Hilton had averaged a gaudy 133 receiving yards and more than a touchdown at NRG Stadium. Thus, he earned the nickname “The Texans Killer.”
Hilton’s return couldn’t have come at a better time. The Colts are just 29th in the NFL with an average of just 195.3 passing yards per game. On the flip side, Indianapolis is third in the league with an average of 144.2 yards on the ground, but the Colts were missing their leading rusher, Marlon Mack, who is out several weeks with a fractured hand. Jonathan Williams started in Mack’s place against the Texans in Week 12.
The Colts Week 12 Recap and How They Couldn’t Sustain After a Quick Start
Houston got on the board first when kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn made a 35-yard field goal at the 13:42 mark of the second quarter. After the Colts punted the ball five minutes later, cornerback Kenny Moore intercepted Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. After seven plays, Brissett scored on a five-yard touchdown run to put the Colts on top, 7-3.
It didn’t take Houston to strike back. Watson connected with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on a 35-yard touchdown for a 10-7 Texans lead shortly after the two-minute warning. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri made a 36-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter for a 10-10 deadlock at halftime.
Williams scored on his second career touchdown at the 6:09 mark of the third quarter for a 17-10 Colts lead. Fairbairn made his second field goal of the game three-and-a-half minutes later to trim the deficit to four points.
As for Hilton, he was a shell of his old self against the Texans in Week 12. In the ensuing Colts possession on 1st and 10, he couldn’t catch a pass which Houston cornerback Vernon Hargreaves appeared to tip.
Watson and Hopkins converged on the game’s most exciting play – a 30-yard touchdown with 12:34 left in the game. Watson found Hopkins streaking down the left sideline on 2nd and 10 for the score. Hopkins beat Colts cornerback Pierre Desir on a go route for a lead which the Texans never relinquished.
The Return of Hilton Left a Lot to Be Desired
Hilton’s struggles continued in the Colts’ next possession. On 3rd and 4, he couldn’t hang on to a pass with Texans cornerback Jonathan Joseph covering him. Hilton finished with a paltry 18 receiving yards for the game – a far cry from his usual production at NRG Stadium.
The two teams traded punts before the Colts had another chance to regain the lead and possibly win the game. Unfortunately, Brissett’s scramble on fourth down at the Texans’ 47-yard line fell short. Indianapolis turned the ball over on downs after a desperate four-and-a-half-minute drive.
With 1:48 remaining, Watson ran the ball for a six-yard gain on 1st and 10 at the Colts’ 42-yard line. Indianapolis linebacker Darius Leonard appeared to punch the ball out of Watson’s hands and recovered for a fumble. The officials never reviewed the play. Houston continued to milk the clock and held on for the much-needed victory.
Watson finished the game on 19-of-30 passing for 298 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Hopkins had 94 receiving yards and two touchdowns on six receptions. Texans wide receiver Will Fuller was also instrumental with his 140 receiving yards on seven receptions.
For his part, Brissett converted on 16 of his 25 pass attempts for 129 yards. He added 20 rushing yards and a touchdown. Williams shone the brightest for the Colts with 104 rushing yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. The Colts managed a meager 129 passing yards for the game. In sharp contrast, Watson and Co. amassed 298 passing yards – more than twice the Colts’ production.
Colts Odds Preview for Their Week 13 Game Against the Titans
The struggling Colts now have lost three of their past four games. With a 6-5 win-loss record, the Colts are in a dogfight with the Tennessee Titans (6-5), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5), Oakland Raiders (6-5), and Cleveland Browns (5-6) for the last Wild Card spot in the AFC.
Despite its recent struggles, Indianapolis enters the Week 13 contest against Tennessee as the favorite. Colts odds for that game stand at -3. On the other hand, the Colts moneyline is at -160 with the Colts over/under line is 43.
Expect the desperate Titans to go all out against the Colts in Week 13. Tennessee has won four of its last five games and stomped the Jacksonville Jaguars 42-20 last time out. The Titans will rely heavily on quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry as both are coming off terrific performances against the Jaguars. For the Colts, now is the time to rely more on their non-existent passing game to throw the defense off. Since Indy currently has no legitimate No. 2 receiver, Hilton must pick up the slack in a big way.