The Colts do just enough to beat Texans, stay in AFC South hunt

INDIANAPOLIS -- Once the regular season ends and the Indianapolis Colts are in the playoffs, people won't remember how the Colts beat the Houston Texans in Week 15.

Not many will remember that the Colts struggled stopping Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson after pressuring him consistently for most of the first half. They won't remember that the passing game struggled for most of the second half until quarterback Philip Rivers found receiver T.Y. Hilton for a 41-yard reception to put the Colts in the position to win the game with two minutes remaining.

None of that matters.

The Colts beat the struggling Texans 27-20 and are a step closer to getting back to the playoffs for just the second time since 2014.

That's all that matters.

For the second time in as many meetings, the Texans drove the field and were in position to score a touchdown late in the game. And for the second time in as many meetings, the Colts recovered a fumble.

This time, linebacker Darius Leonard came from behind and punched the ball out from Texans receiver Keke Coutee inside the 5-yard line. The ball bounced into the end zone and was recovered by linebacker Bobby Okereke in the end zone to seal the victory.

The road to the postseason for the Colts is currently as a wild-card team because the Tennessee Titans beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Indianapolis and Tennessee have identical 10-4 records, but the Titans have the edge due to a better division record. The Colts have better than a 95% chance of making the playoffs with two games remaining.

It looked like the Colts were going to blow the Texans out early on because Houston looked like it was ready for its offseason while Indianapolis was gearing up for the postseason.

The Colts easily moved up the ball up the field on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead. The defense continued its dominating ways of pressuring Watson. The Colts sacked Watson four times to bring their two-game total against him this season to nine.

But it shouldn’t be surprising that the shorthanded Texans stayed in the game. The past 14 games between the two teams have been decided by single digits.

And the Texans have Watson.

Watson went through a stretch in the second half where he completed 11 straight passes to keep his team in the game. He finished 33-of-41 for 373 yards and two touchdowns.

The Colts only had the ball for 16 minutes in the second half, and it was in those 16 minutes that they just enough offensively to win the game.

Promising trend: Receiver Zach Pascal has spent most of the season getting credit for his ability to block downfield for other receivers and running backs. But Pascal proved there’s more to his game when he had five receptions for a team-high 79 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner, to help bring a spark to a passing game that struggled in the second half, partially due to a lack time of possession.

What injury? There was some concern about defensive lineman DeForest Buckner's availability after he showed up on the injury report due to ankle injury late last week. Buckner played and had a team-high three sacks to bring his season total to 7.5.