AFC Playoff Recap: Wildcard Weekend

The Colts aren’t just Lucky…

Indianapolis Colts – 21
Houston Texans – 7

The Colts look an awful lot like the 2015 Chiefs, who also started 1-5, then clawed their way into a wildcard slot. Those 2015 Chiefs even won in the wildcard round, too. These Colts had the best run up to the playoffs of any team in the AFC, closing the season out 9-1, and I still didn’t see this win over Houston coming. Certainly not that easily, anyway. I felt like the Houston defense was too stout, especially at home, to allow a walk over. Clearly, I was wrong. The Colts tenth-ranked defense clearly outplayed the star-studded Houston unit, wreaking havoc in the backfield all day, sacking Deshaun Watson three times. The secondary was also opportunistic, with Kenny Moore slipping inside for a gorgeous interception on a key fourth down that crushed the Texans slowly building momentum in the second quarter. Houston was never able to get the ball moving. While Watson was able to slip though coverage for 76 yards, the rest of the team combined for a mere 29 yards on the ground. With Lamar Miller unable to set the tempo, the Texans looked disjointed on offense all night. Watson threw for 235 yards with a TD and an INT, and the Texans have won with less, but against this hungry Colts team, it wouldn’t be close to enough.

The Colts churned up yards and left Houston’s mighty defense gasping early in game, scoring on two consecutive possessions, separated only by a one-minute long three-and-out by the Texans. The opening drive of the game was highlighted by a 38-yard dagger strike to T.Y. Hilton, setting up an easy 6-yard TD pass to Eric Ebron. The Colts second possession saw them again march seventy-five yards down the field and into the end zone. This time the scoring came by way of a workmanlike two-yard rush by Marlon Mack, who would finish the game with 148 yards on twenty-four carries. The two drives consumed just under ten minutes of game time between them and ended the first quarter with the Colts pulling away 14-0. The Colts never looked back. They didn’t need to. A second quarter 18-yard TD pass from Luck to Dontrelle Inman would effectively end the competition before halftime.

Indeed, after the break the defenses took center stage, as the teams would combine for six straight punts before the Texans raised the interest level with an eighty-nine-yard scoring drive early in the fourth quarter. Watson’s six-yard strike to Keke Coutee would close the gap to fourteen, but they could come no closer, turning the ball over on downs in their only other possession of the final quarter.

Call it what you will. Momentum, fate, Luck (pun intended). The Colts came into this wildcard match not to compete, but to dominate. And dominate they did. As the sixth-seed, they’re now on to Kansas City, where they’ll hope that Marlon Mack can baffle the Chiefs rush-defense challenged unit. If he can, there’s no reason that these Colts can’t keep their postseason mojo going.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out Tom’s other playoff previews here

Image Source: USA Today

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