Attention Texans: Neutral zone off-limits

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- One giant difference between the Colts and Texans Sunday was penalties.

The Texans had 13 for 103 yards that gave the Colts six first downs, while Indianapolis had just four for 40 yards in its 20-17 win. Three of the Texans' violations were neutral-zone infractions -- against Antonio Smith, Jacoby Jones and Connor Barwin.

That’s a big factor when it comes to winning like Indy did or losing like Houston.

"We had three [neutral-zone infractions], we had a couple special-teams penalties once again, which have been hurting us all year long, we had a couple holding calls,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. “We did overcome a few of those if I am correct. But anytime you have 13 penalties for 100 yards on the road, you’re just kind of adding to your problems of playing on the road.”

As for the neutral zone ...

“I just know a lot of guys were getting warned on one side and there were penalties on the other,” Texans right tackle Eric Winston said. “You can’t be in the neutral zone first of all. I just keep hearing, '98 [Robert Mathis] scoot back, 98 scoot back.' I guess if you’re doing the penalties you’re going to get called.”

Said Smith: “When they got to doing hurry-up counts and you’re trying to get focused on getting lined up and different things and also trying to focus on rushing the passer, sometimes you tend to get lax on where you’re lined up. And then the rest of it is all on the refs, when they decide to call it.

“They’ll give you a couple warnings, a couple warnings, then bam, they are going to get you. They warned us a couple times. But when you get into that mode and everything is moving so fast you’ve got to focus on the details and that’s something we’ve got to get better at.”