Game Update: The Texans defeated the Colts 23-19 to punch their way to the playoffs

Texans punch ticket to playoffs with 23-19 victory over Colts
Credit: | Texans punch ticket to playoffs with 23-19 victory over Colts

The NFL Playoffs in 2023 will see the Houston Texans participate.

Head Coach DeMeco Ryans’ club advanced to the postseason with a victory in Indianapolis thanks to a late touchdown drive led by C.J. Stroud and a defensive stop on the Colts’ last drive.

After winning the coin toss, the Texans decided to defer and kicked off the game.

After Ka’imi Fairbairn’s pass was intercepted in the end zone, the play was sent to Indianapolis at its own 25-yard line. Running back Jonathan Taylor received a handoff that resulted in four yards for the Colts. Indianapolis was awarded a first-and-10 at the 34-yard line after a hands-to-the-face penalty on the next play. Gardner Minshew then connected with Michael Pittman, Jr. for a 5-yard pass. On the following play, they connected once again for a 7-yard gain, and then again for a 9-yard pickup.

The Colts gained another first down as Taylor gained three more yards on the run.

At the Texans 42-yard line, Minshew scrambled for a nine-yard gain on first-and-10. On second down, Taylor burst down the middle for 13 yards.

Taylor carried left from the Texans 20-yard line for a four-yard gain. Taylor continued to press for two more yards on 2nd-and-6, setting up the Colts’ first third-down scenario of the game. Fourth down was set up by Minshew’s high-and-wide pass to the front right corner of the end zone. With 9:15 left in the first quarter, Indianapolis grabbed a 3-0 lead thanks to a successful 38-yard field goal by Matt Gay.

The Colts’ 56-yard touchdown drive took 11 plays and 5:45 to complete.

Indianapolis’ attempt at a kickoff ended in a touchback, and the Texans took over at their own 25-yard line. They didn’t waste any time after that.

Wide receiver Nico Collins was ready for a stunning throw from C.J. Stroud as he ran deep over the middle. With 9:06 remaining in the first quarter, Houston led 7-3 thanks to a Fairbairn extra point, which took all of nine seconds to complete.

The Colts were forced to defend their own 23-yard line after a return on the kickoff, and Minshew completed an incomplete pass on first down. On second down, he was sacked for a loss of eight yards, and on third down, Taylor ran for ten yards.

Read More: NFL playoff picture: matchups and live seeding for Week 18: Steelers vs. Ravens, Texans vs. Colts

Desmond King, the Colts’ return man, fair-caught Rigoberto Sanchez’s 51-yard pass at their own 24-yard line after the team punted from their own 24-yard line.

Texans Clinch Playoff
Credit: | Texans Clinch Playoff

The Texans offence gained five yards after a handoff to Devin Singletary. Singletary took two additional calls after receiving the call again on second-and-five. Stroud broke ahead for four yards and a first down on a third-and-three.

Then he hit Collins with a short pass that gained six yards. Singletary carried to the left side on second-and-four and picked up two more. Singletary’s third-and-2 run was knocked down for a yard loss, and the Texans had to punt. With 3:31 left in the first quarter, Josh Downs fair-caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Johnston at the Colts’ 14-yard line.

On the first play after Minshew’s missed pass, Taylor rushed for 14 yards. On second down, DeAndre Houston-Carson broke up a ball over the middle, setting up a third-and-10 situation for the Colts. Minshew attempted a long over-the-middle pass incomplete, forcing the Colts to punt once more. Sanchez blasted it 52 yards to the Houston 20-yard line from his own 27 yards out. Upon Desmond King’s 15-yard return, the Texans were awarded a first down at their own 35-yard line.

Stroud attempted to throw incomplete to tight end Dalton Schultz up the right sideline. Stroud found Collins on the right side for a 12-yard gain on second down.

On first down, Singletary gained a yard on the ground. The following play, he gained four more yards. The Texans were called for a false start on third-and-5, but as the quarter was coming to an end, Stroud and Collins connected once again for seven additional yards.

In the first quarter, Johnston launched a 45-yard punt that was intercepted by Houston at the Colts’ 1-yard line. Taylor slid forward for three yards to the 9-yard line after the Texans committed a neutral-zone violation that sent the ball out to the Colts’ 6-yard line. Then he took off running for a first down and a 5-yard gain.

On the next first down, he was given the ball again, and Taylor gained three yards. On the left side, Minshew delivered a screen to Taylor, giving Indianapolis six more points. A handoff to Taylor on third-and-one was blocked, costing the team a yard. King again displayed some deft manoeuvres to return the punt 15 yards further to the Houston 30-yard line after it was boomed 63 yards on the fourth down.

Singletary gained a yard on first down. The Texans faced a 3rd-and-4 at their own 36-yard line after Stroud quickly completed a pass to wide receiver John Metchie, III on the right side of the field on the next play. Stroud found Schultz across the middle for seven yards, resulting in a first down for the Texans.

Stroud’s pass on the first down was incomplete on the left side, and Singletary gained three yards by carrying over the left guard on the second down. Once more with the ball in the midst of the third down, Stroud found wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson over the middle for a 6-yard gain.

On fourth-and-1, the Texans intended to go for it, but a false start sent Houston back five yards, setting up Johnston to punt once more. Once more, Johnston displayed his mastery by throwing the ball out of bounds on the left side, at the 11-yard line for Indianapolis.

Tight end Mo Alie-Cox was the recipient of a ball from Minshew, but Derek Stingley, Jr., a cornerback, intercepted it. Running back Zack Moss raced ahead for a 6-yard gain on a second-and-10. The Texans defence stopped the Colts’ screen to Taylor to the right side on a third-and-four, resulting in a gain of only two yards.

King brought the Sanchez punt back 13 yards to the Houston 43-yard line after it travelled 51 yards.

Singletary gained seven yards while taking a throw sweep to the right side. Subsequently, Stroud completed a 5-yard pass to tight end Eric Saubert, earning a first down. Once more, Singletary ran, gaining six yards over the middle. He proceeded two yards farther forward after taking another pass to the right. In order to set up 1st-and-Goal at the 8-yard line on 3rd-and-2 from the Colts’ 37-yard line, Stroud quickly flared to Collins on the left side, who raced 29 yards up the left sideline. After that, Singletary rushed for four yards and then three more, setting up a third-and-goal situation for Houston at the 2-yard line.

Following the interval, Stroud found fullback Andrew Beck by himself in the end zone, where he scored. With 1:57 remaining in the half, Houston led 14-3 after to an extra point by Fairbairn.

The Colts advanced the ball easily; on first-and-10 from the 25-yard line, Taylor gained 11. Next, Minshew made a 16-yard pass after connecting with Downs. Indianapolis was moved to the Texans’ 39-yard line by penalties on the following two plays; however, a false start cost the Colts five yards.

On the first down, Minshew fired an incomplete pass deep up the right side. He next attempted a pass that was a little too long up the right side. The Colts faced a third-and-15 with 0:48 left in the second quarter. Taylor was found over the middle for a gain of 10. With 0:35 remaining in the half, Gay’s 52-yard field goal attempt slid inside the right upright, cutting the Texans’ advantage to 14-6. The field goal came on the sixth play in a 1:22 41-yard drive.

Following a touchback on the subsequent kickoff, the Texans offence was penalised for a false start and was forced to restart on the field. First and fifteen yards downfield, Singletary’s rush at the line of scrimmage was stuffed for no gain.

With 0:23 remaining in the half, Singletary ran to the left and gained three yards; the Colts then called a timeout. After the brief interval, the Texans faced a 3rd-and-12, and Stroud’s ball to Hutchinson was incomplete. Johnston was set to punt once more with 0:18 remaining. With 0:07 remaining, he sent it 53 yards down the field, Downs recovered it 10 yards, and the Colts entered the game from their own 34-yard line.

Minshew fired incomplete, and the Texans headed to the locker room up by eight points.

Stroud and the Texans offense opened the second half from their own 25 after the touchback, and he immediately hit Collins for a 23-yard completion on the left side.

On 1st-and-10 at the their own 48, a screen pass to Singletary picked up two yards and moved the ball to midfield. A false start pushed the Texans back to their own 45 to make it 2nd-and-13. Stroud was then sacked by DeForest Buckner for a loss of eight yards. On 3rd-and-21, a quick pass to Collins picked up six yards and brought Johnston back on the field for his fifth punt of the day. It went 50 yards and Downs returned it six yards to the Indianapolis 13-yard line with 11:46 left in the third quarter.

On first down, Taylor raced up the middle for an 11-yard gain. On the following play, he rushed for a 4-yard gain. Minshew found Kylen Granson for 23 yards on the second-and-6 play, but Taylor broke free. Following his 49-yard touchdown run against the Texans, he became the first back of the season to amass 100 yards or more in a game. At 14, the Colts attempted a two-point conversion and succeeded when Minshew’s leap throw to Alie-Cox was successful.

In just four plays, the drive covered 87 yards and used 1:50 of time.

The Texans started their drive at the 25-yard line following another touchback. On second down, a Singletary rush gained two yards, and Stroud attempted an incomplete pass to Metchie on the left sideline. Hutchinson was wide right on the third-and-eight pass, and Johnston was back to punt. Neville Hewitt blasted Downs at the 20-yard line after he bombed it 62 yards.

Moss got to work, gaining seven yards by moving to the right side. He gained an additional 11 yards on the following play. After that, Taylor dashed up the left side for a pickup of 22 yards. On first down, Taylor was slowed down for a gain of only one yard, setting up a second-and-nine for Indianapolis at the Texans’ 39. Linebacker Denzel Perryman stopped Taylor for no gain as the defence tensed up. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins batted the third-and-9 throw to the grass, setting Gay up for a 57-yard field goal attempt. The right upright clanged, and the Texans gained possession on their own 47-yard line.

On the Texans’ opening play following the field goal miss, Stroud decided against passing and instead ran for a 12-yard gain on a flea-flicker. Next, on first down, Singletary gained four yards and moved the ball to the Colts’ 37-yard line. On second down, Stroud gained four yards and rolled to his left, setting up a third-and-two. Stroud attempted a ball to Hutchinson across the middle, but the Colts intercepted it. The play was stopped at the 15-yard line. The Texans were ahead 17–14 after Fairbairn’s 51-yard field goal attempt from the left hash was accurate. The touchdown drive lasted 1:58 and covered 20 yards on five plays.

After only gaining one yard on the kickoff, which ended in a touchback, linebacker Blake Cashman met Taylor. Minshew found Alie-Cox across the middle for 12 yards and another first down on the following play. On first down, Khalil Davis dropped Taylor for a 4-yard loss.

After that, Minshew connected with Pittman for an 18-yard pass; however, King’s 15-yard personal foul added 15 more yards to the play. Minshew returned to Pittman, and the two moved the ball forward five more yards. The quarter ended as Moss sprinted forward for an additional four yards.

With Indianapolis leading, the Texans led the Colts 17–14 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

At the Texans’ 24-yard line, the Colts faced a 3rd-and-1 to begin the period. The Colts successfully challenged the ball’s location, which moved the ball to the 23, created a new set of downs, and added forty-five seconds to the third quarter’s clock.

After Moss lost a yard on a short run, the third quarter came to an official close and set up a second-and-11.

The fourth quarter began with another two-yard rush by Moss for the Colts. Minshew found Cox with a six-yard throw on third-and-nine, setting up a fourth down. Gay emerged and tried his third field goal of the game, a 35-yarder that he made. With 13:33 left in the game, the field goal knotted the score at 17 all.

Dameon Pierce returned it 30 yards from his own end zone to set up the offence, and the Texans seized the lead at their own 27. Beck hauled in Stroud’s opening pass of the drive for an eight-yard gain to the 35. The Texans, starting at their own 38, lost 10 points after Singletary’s short run for a first down. Stroud was sacked all the way back at his own 28. Stroud found Schultz on a second-and-20 play, and the latter went 17 yards to the 45 to provide a manageable third down. Unsurprisingly, Stroud immediately returned to Schultz for a five-yard gain and a first down at the 50-yard line on the following play.

On the following play, the Texans were penalised for a hold, which forced them back to the 40 for a first-and-20. On the opening play, Stroud hit Schultz for a gain of six yards. Collins then made a spectacular grab that resulted in a 14-yard gain and a first down to the Colts 40. The following play, Schultz gained nine yards after Stroud found him back-pedaling in the pocket. Singletary then completed the play with a four-yard run to get a first down at the Colts 27.

Singletary lost 3 back to the 30 on the first play after being given a fresh set of downs. Stroud connected with Collins across the middle on a 2nd-and-13 play, which resulted in a 23-yard gain at the Indianapolis seven-yard line. The ball was at the three after the Colts were called for a horse collar tackle. Singletary ran up the middle for a touchdown run to cap off the drive. With 6:20 left in the game, the Texans missed the extra point, making the score 23-17.

The 7:13-long Texans scoring possession covered 73 yards in 12 plays.

The subsequent kickoff went into the endzone for a touchback, setting up the Colts for a drive. Minshew found Downs for a 28-yard gain to the Houston 48 following a run by Taylor for a loss. Following a run by Taylor for no gain, the Minshew hit Downs for four yards to face a second-and-10. Taylor gained five yards on a third-and-six play, but the ball was moved to the Texans 34 after a penalty for improper use of hands to the face.

The ball was moved to the Texans’ 24-yard line with three consecutive rushes by Taylor, who gained five yards on two of the runs and zero yards on the third, prompting the two-minute warning.

Following three consecutive runs by Taylor for two, six, and one, the Texans 15 were faced with a fourth-and-one situation. The Colts came out after a timeout, and Minshew attempted to target Goodson in the flat, but the ball was incomplete and resulted in a downs turnover. The Texans won with just 15 players.

With 1:03 left in the game having the ball, the Texans went for a run, leading 23–17 at the time. On the drive’s first two plays, Singletary carried for three yards, then one yard. With 54 seconds remaining, the Colts used their last two timeouts to end the clock in between the runs.

On third-and-6, Houston carried the ball once more, this time with Singletary gaining four yards. With eight seconds remaining in the game and facing a 4th-and-2, the Texans wasted a timeout as the clock was running out.

With one second left in the play, Johnston circled and dashed out of the endzone’s rear for the safety. The Colts’ safety put the score 23-19 in the Texans’ favour.

Because of the safety, Houston was forced to execute a free kick by Johnston from their own 20. Downs was the one who fielded the ball. The game was lost by the Colts when they mishandled the ball after a few attempts to lateral it.

With a 23-19 victory over the Colts, the Texans improved to 10-7 on the 2023 campaign and secured the team’s first postseason trip since the 2019 year. Houston is at least an AFC Wild Card club going into the playoffs. The Texans will win the AFC South and get to host a postseason game at NRG Stadium if the Tennessee Titans upset the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.