Running Thoughts from the Texans Game

1. I’m coming in late after missing the first quarter because I was at the Indianapolis Zoo – don’t ask.
2. Colts trail 10-7. Houston ran the opening kick back for a touchdown. The Colts answered right back with an 8 minute drive. Peyton was 6 for 7 with a score to Dallas Clark.
3. Colts come right back with a brilliant drive. Good run/pass mix. Big catches by Marvin and Gonzalez. The Colts finish with three runs inside the ten. Joseph Addai leaps impossibly high over the defender, is hit in mid-air, and lands in the end zone for a score. Brilliant effort.
4. Third downs are killing the Colts defense. Just can’t get them off the field. This is going to be a close, close game. Need a turnover badly or the Colts may not see the ball before the half. Schaub is as advertised, but I like their playing calling even better. They are unpredictable.
5. Big stop for the Blue. The Texans will punt, unlike last time. The D is everywhere, but Houston is up for the challenge. This is a fascinating matchup to watch thus far.
6. Gonzalez drops a costly one on third down under two minutes. He tried to catch it and make his cut at the same time. It was going to be close, but if he gets it clean he leans for the marker. Killer.
7. The Texans ease down the field in no hurry to give the ball back to Manning and company. TV shows a concerned Anthony Gonzalez on the sidelines. He’s had a rough start to his career, but it will get better. The Texans inexplicably throw on third down, stopping the clock. Even so there isn’t enough time to make hay. The Colts wisely run out the clock via Addai. Colts lead 14-10 at the half.
8. I think you have to like the way the Colts are playing overall, kickoff return aside. The O is outscoring Houston’s O 14-3, which is the natural order of things. The D has come to play as well. Still, it is a tight game that Peyton will try to break open in the third quarter.
9. Stupid prediction: This game will be decided by who turns the ball over in the second half.
10. Houston has not allowed much in the running game. Addai is stuffed on first down, followed by a strike to Ben Utecht for 20 yards, and another big gainer to Dallas Clark.
11. Former Colt, Von Hutchins breaks up a pass to Marvin in the end zone. Lucky break for the Colts as it may have been picked otherwise. Offensive holding call on second down stalls the drive. Field goal after two nice gainers. Penalties have given the Texans 10 points and now they cost the Colts a chance to break the game open. Good drive though and the Colts lead 17-10.
12. Rock Boiman picks off a tipped pass from Schaub. Under review ala Anthony Gonzalez’s catch last week. UPHELD. BIG BIG PLAY.
13. TOUCHDOWN JOSEPH ADDAI. GREAT RUN, GREAT BLOCKING. Colts lead 24-10 on the strength of the the Boiman pick.
14. The teams trade three and outs as the Texans get pressure on Manning. Hunter Smith outkicks his coverage by 20 yards, allowing a huge return by the speedy Jones. Smith narrowly saves the score. Special teams are killing this team right now.
15. Interception Gary Brackett. He saves a touchdown by snagging the ball at the goalline. He returns it to the 29. On first down Manning finds Wayne for a gain of 64. Reggie is hauled down at the seven yard line. Manning is sacked on third down and the Blue settle for 3. Colts take a 27-10 lead.
16. Texans are in business, but Schaub is getting pressure from the D-Line on almost every pass. They have apparently abandoned the running game because of injuries to Dayne and Green. They and undermanned and we’re certain to hear about it after the game. A 41 yard pass to Andre Davis takes the Texans down to the 1 yard. Hayden had excellent coverage, but Davis pushed off and up to snag the ball. That will never, ever be called. Touchdown Texans on a short run by Gado. Colts hold a 27-17 lead.
17. The Colts had to settle for field goals twice in the third quarter. Rushing has very nice kickoff return to midfield. A score of any kind would help but Manning needs 7 to quiet the crowd and stop the Texans’ momentum. Reggie Wayne falls on a fumble. The Texans have been popping people all day and they finally got one to come lose. Big break goes the way of the Colts. A huge third down stop. The Colts needed 2 yards and they tried to throw into the end zone. Run the ball people! DZ mentions that the line was stacked, correctly. The real problem is that Peyton keeps getting pressured from the right side, possibly Diem. A field goal sends the Colts to a 30-17 lead.
18. Time for the D to seal it. The Texans are using a boatload of clock and they need two touchdowns to win. The D-Line is getting pressure on every drop back. Schaub is a heady player and gets it off quickly. Amazing. They are all over him. He fumbles twice, but the Texans recover both. Dumb luck finally favors the horn-ed ones. Huge fourth down conversion. This is a very long drive that won’t leave much time on the clock. Schaub is in the zone. He has them down to the two yard line. I’d feel worse about this drive, but the Colts have done their job and not given up a big play. They forced two fumbles and stopped them on three downs before the conversion. Touchdown, the Colts hold on to a 30-24 lead and need a score of any kind to seal it.
19. It’s Manning time. Houston has two timeouts. False Start. Penalties have burned the Colts today. Five yards for Addai and Houston uses their second timeout, one remaining. Peyton rolls out and hits Marvin for an easy first down. Houston has used its final timeout. A two yard gain for Addai takes it to the Two-Minute Warning.
20. This is eerily similar to last week. The Colts have their destiny in their own hands. They need just one first down. I say run twice and punt. Use the clock and force Schaub to pull off a miracle for Houston. Is this wussy? Yes. Is it smart? Yes.
21. Hand off to Addai. 3rd and 6. Need a first down to end the game. Addai is just short of the marker bringing up a fourth and one. They will punt after running the clock down to one second and calling time. Great punt – touchback. Houston will get the ball at their 20 yard line and 19 seconds to play. They finally sack Schaub. NICE TRY HOUSTON, but YOU LOSE.

This game was far closer than it should have been, but penalties and special teams gaffes have been a hallmark early this season for Indy. Pundits will point to these last two games as proof that the AFC South has tightened up, and to an extent they are right. But the truth is the Colts beat two division rivals on the road. That’s not supposed to be an easy thing, but they nearly ran away with both games. I’m very pleased with the effort on offense and defense.

Deshawn Zombie comments: Schaub was impressive today, making a variety of tough throws to well covered receivers. The defense played well, forcing several fumbles that Houston got lucky to fall on. Those could have changed the game significantly. For those who are all high on NE hype, bear in mind that the three teams they beat are 2-7 (2-4 in games not involving NE). Blowing out bad teams is a sign of a great team, but so is winning tough road games against good teams. The 3 Colts wins are over teams that are a combined 4-5 (4-2 in games not involving the Colts) after this week (unless Tenn and NO tie). It’ll be interesting to see the Pats play a good team (and no, the Chargers don’t count anymore. Norv Turner has KILLED that team).

Also, my favorite stat of the game was list of teams who have never played in the Super Bowl. You have such also-rans as Cleveland, Arizona, Detroit, New Orleans, Houston (expansion team), and. . . Jacksonville. It made me smile. Stupid Jaguars.