AFC South: Colts-Texans
|James Lang/US Presswire|
|Sage Rosenfels is sent spinning through the air and he coughs up the ball, which is recovered by Gary Brackett who returns the fumble for a touchdown.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
HOUSTON -- The Colts are still the Colts; the Texans are still the Texans.
The fourth-quarter clock showed 3:36 and Gary Brackett had just finished a graceful negotiation of the sideline for a 68-yard fumble return touchdown. The Texans were still ahead, still had a chance to wrap the game in a tourniquet and save it.
But deep down everyone in Reliant Stadium knew it had turned irreparably, and that while Houston was still ahead, the Texans were finished.
Texans right tackle Eric Winston stood around the 14-yard line not far from where Brackett scored, both hands on his helmet in a picture that spoke its own caption: "What did we just do?"
What they just did -- allow the Colts to come back from 17 points down with under five minutes left for a 31-27 win -- might have kept Indianapolis from divisional death on an afternoon when the Tennessee Titans moved to 5-0.
"I told the team in the locker room that this can be a season saver if we take this energy and passion and emotion that we played with in the last four minutes and play with that all 60 minutes," coach Tony Dungy said.
Give credit to Marlin Jackson for setting Sage Rosenfels in motion on a helicopter blade spin when the quarterback foolishly tried to hurdle him. Spinning through the air, Rosenfels was lined up for a second hit by Raheem Brock that jarred the ball loose for Brackett to scoop.
But if Rosenfels gave himself up with a slide, or took a left and headed to the sideline, the fuse never gets lit. The whole chain of events was born from Rosenfels' aggression -- a trait that served him well up to that point -- in a moment when he should have listened to whatever warning bells were ringing in his head.
It was third-and-8 from the Colts' 39 and a first down would have kept things moving. He saw a chance to earn a new set of downs, kill more clock, set up another score. Striving for all that, something inside him convinced him to try to leap Jackson.
"We played as good as we're going to play -- as we can play -- for 3 1/2 quarters, and I feel like I let all 53 guys and 15-whatever coaches down," Rosenfels said. "We played a great game. I just made some bad mistakes at the end."
HOUSTON -- What a collapse. What a comeback.
Sage Rosenfels erased an excellent passing day with three fourth-quarter turnovers that blew a 27-10 lead and turned into a 31-27 victory for the visiting Colts.
Indianapolis was not far at all from a 1-3 record and sole possession of last place in the AFC South, a division it has dominated since realignment. Instead the Colts got three big defensive plays as Houston went into self-destruct mode.
It's the kind of game that can catapult the victor and completely sink the loser.
The Colts are breathing at 2-2. The Texans are suffocating at 0-4.
We'll see how everyone is handling it and spinning it downstairs and I'll be back to share as soon as we can.
HOUSTON -- The Texans just went ahead two scores using what's becoming the clear formula for breaking the Colts: keep the defense on the field.
A 15-play, 8:47 drive to a 43-yard field goal by Kris Brown was the Texans' longest drive of the year by plays and time.
Now up 20-10, they've scored 20 unanswered on the Colts.
We'll see if they've tired out the defense enough to reap more dividends in the fourth quarter.
HOUSTON - First-half observations from a tight game in the Texas heat, where Houston came back from 10-0 down to take a 17-10 lead.
-- Let the debate begin. Win or lose there will be a faction of fans who want the Texans to stay with Sage Rosenfels, who started after Matt Schaub spent Saturday night in a hospital with a viral infection.
Rosenfels matched or surpassed Peyton Manning in the first half. Both played with efficiency.
Rosenfels managed a touchdown drive just before the half very well, capping it with a nice five-yard strike to Andre Johnson. Rosenfels rolled hard right and hit Johnson moving left in the back of the end zone.
He was the two things the Texans needs in a game like this - efficient with 11 completions in 14 attempts for 144 yards and a touchdown, and effective at finding Andre Johnson, Who's 98 receiving yards on seven first-half catches were the best first-half total of his career.
-- The aggressive Colts built their 10-0 lead on two drives spurred by fourth-down conversions.
Joseph Addai converted fourth-and-one when Morlon Greenwood missed a tackle and Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne off of play action for a 36-yard gain. Cornerback Jacques Reeves was well-positioned, but never looked back. If he'd merely raised his arms he would have deflected the ball that fell perfectly into Wayne's arms.
-- Houston running back Ahman Green has actually looked pretty good cutting most of his carries inside the numbers. He's working as the second back behind Steve Slaton, and getting his first action since the opener. Not hurt yet either, from what we can tell.
-- The Texans are clearly focusing on limiting what Manning can do on the outside, so there has been a lot of room for people to get open in the middle of the field. Dallas Clark has 72 on just four catches working in that territory.
-- Pregame leftovers: Nice move by Colts owner Jim Irsay (Not Bob Irsay, as I originally wrote) to chip in $50,000 to the Texans Helping Texans program for Hurricane Ike recovery in the region.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Schaub is at Reliant Stadum and is active. The Texans do not have a third quarterback and would turn to tight end Owen Daniels in an emergency.
HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans are set to play at home for the first time, 31 days since the start of the NFL regular season.
Their original home opener, Sept. 14, was erased by Hurricane Ike.
Their three road games to start the season left them at 0-3, and they are underdogs against the Colts tomorrow. But they remain a rallying point for a city that has endured a lot.
Now, they'll play at home with the damaged roof of Reliant Stadium open. It is the first of four home games for the Texans.
"To be back home, to be in front of your home crowd, get that true home field advantage, we're definitely looking forward to it," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "I talked to the guys about it. We need some wins to make everyone sort of feel good. When football is on, it kind of takes your mind away from what's going on with the hurricane and everything. It gives people kind of a vacation, a getaway. Just get back to football -- it's a sense of getting back to normalcy.
"So, with that, with us being the home town team, and for us to go out and play ball on Sundays and win games, it's going to make everybody around town feel a lot better."
Commissioner Roger Goodell will attend the game and I'll have an update following his pregame talk. I'll then bring you my insights from the Colts-Texans game. I'm looking forward to it, and I'll hopefully get a postgame post from Pappadeaux in front of Steelers-Jaguars on my hotel television.