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.
The Indianapolis Colts came to Houston hoping to take back the AFC South title.
Eastern dominates Taylor in softball
GREENTOWN — The third time turned out not to be the charm for the Taylor softball squad as Eastern improved to 3-0 on the season over its backyard rival Wednesday night, ousting the Titans from the Class 2A Eastern Sectional 15-0 in five innings.
Barnes sets Taylor's career hits record
Taylor baseball standout Logan Barnes made his final game at George Phares Field one to remember.
Barnes pitched four solid innings to lead Taylor past Monroe Central 9-3 Tuesday. In addition, he went 2 for 3 at the plate, pushing his career hits total to a school-record 142.
Kats drop heartbreaker
When the postseason arrives, emotions surge like a roller-coaster. One minute, it’s a long uphill, then a wild series of events offer a barrage of frights and thrills. And then, for one team, the ride ends and there aren’t any more tickets for another go around.
After two days of chills and thrills, Kokomo’s softball team ran out of tickets Tuesday night in the Class 4A Harrison Sectional. The Kats dropped a 4-3 decision to Harrison in eight innings, giving up a run in the top of the extra frame, and having a runner tagged out at home in the bottom of the frame.
“It was a great game,” Harrison coach Dick Mitchell said. “It’s always nerve-wracking to coach in one of them, but both teams played their hearts out. Nobody deserved to lose that game, but unfortunately somebody does.”
Comets turn heads at track regional
Heading into Tuesday’s IHSAA girls track and field regional at Fort Wayne Northrop High School’s Spuller Stadium, event workers alike weren’t sure of Eastern High School’s location.
After the dust settled, they may feel compelled to get a map out and find out where Greentown is located.
Led by seniors Sarah Wagner, Brittany Neeley and Bethany Neeley, the Comets qualified for the state finals in six separate events to finish fourth as a team with 55.5 points, behind host and champion Northrop (78), Bellmont (68) and Carroll (Allen) 66.
GASKINS: Hibbert’s block was thing of beauty
For the better part of the NBA season, ESPN devoted all kinds of time on SportsCenter episodes to replays of two dunks. Anyone who watches any ESPN at all surely knows the two to which I’m referring: 6-foot-11 DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers posterizing 6-3 Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons, and 6-8 LeBron James of the Miami Heat hammering home a dunk over 6-2 Jason Terry of the Boston Celtics.
Day after day, ESPN commentators lavished endless praise, which quickly grew tiresome. The dunks were strong, but Jordan and James were much taller and heavier than Knight and Terry and the dunkers also caught perfect alley-oop passes with the defenders in poor positions to defend. Still, ESPN commentators loved these plays.
I kept wondering if a great defensive play would receive the same kind of love.
Coons, Walker, Glassburn reach Victory Lane
When the dust settled Sunday evening at the Kokomo Speedway, a pair of drivers who have visited Victory Lane in the past at the local oval found themselves there once again while a talented up-and-comer hit the hallowed ground for the first time.
Jerry Coons Jr. had his way in the sprint car feature and Craig Walker seemed to get faster as the laps wound down to win the Street Stock main event, however Kokomo High School sophomore Kory Glassburn had to scratch and fight before scoring the first feature win of his career in the Thunder Car A-main.
Field is set for Indianapolis 500
After being bumped from the starting field while sitting on the qualifying line on pole day, Josef Newgarden turned the fastest time on bump day, assuring himself a spot in the Indianapolis 500.
The field of 33 cars will have one final opportunity to practice on Friday before next Sunday’s 97th running of the 500.
One year ago the Sarah Fisher Racing Team withdrew Newgarden’s entry on the first day of qualifying and had to qualify on bump day. This year the team decided not to make another qualifying run and got bumped.
Athlete of the week
Cole led the small-school Comets to the Kokomo Sectional title, their first title since 1998.
Kats regain tennis throne
At 10:51 a.m. Saturday morning, the bulk of Kokomo’s girls tennis team sprinted from the viewing hill to the east entrance of the tennis courts to mob No. 1 singles player Morgan Mohr as she came off the court following her 1-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Eastern’s Courtney Clark.
The No. 3 singles match was still raging, but the team match was already won. The Wildkats had reconquered the throne from two-time defending champion Eastern and were once again champions of the Kokomo Sectional.
Eastern boys track claims first sectional title since 1998
The boys track and field coach at Eastern High School from 1987 until last season, Paul Nicholson’s parting message to his team was simple: “Don’t deny the gift.”
That motto left such a lasting impression on the Comets’ returning athletes that they had it screen printed on their 2013 season T-shirts.
With Nicholson in attendance to celebrate with them, new coach Austin Roark and the Comets outlasted host Kokomo to win their first sectional title since 1998 Thursday night, topping the Wildkats by 3.5 points, 124.5-121.
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