Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky
Failed third downs frustrate any offense. But nothing’s worse for a team trying to establish an offensive rhythm than repeated three-and-outs.
And no defense in the league has done better at forcing three-and-outs than the Houston Texans.
Houston’s not allowed a first down on 47.9 percent of its opponents' drives, a strong number that leads the league with New England second at 44.2 percent and is 13 percent better than any other team in the AFC South.
“That’s really big for us. I think that’s setting a tone to let teams know we’re going to be in the right places,” strong safety Bernard Pollard said. “We’re not going to stop everything. These guys get paid a lot of money to make first downs …. It’s just been great for us that we’ve been getting them off the field and we’ve got to continue to do that if we want to win.”
But the Texans meet the Colts Sunday. And on the other side of the ball, Indianapolis is fourth-best at avoiding three-and-outs. The Colts' offense goes three-and-out only 28.4 percent of the time.
If the Texans can force the Colts to punt after only three snaps a couple of times at Lucas Oil Stadium it will do a lot to bolster their chances at an upset.
But you know how it goes. They can force three in a row and Peyton Manning can wash them all away with one huge play on the fourth series.