'Talk can't get it done': Houston Texans motivated to set tone with redemption against Indianapolis Colts

HOUSTON -- As the Houston Texans strolled into their locker room Tuesday, footage from Week 6 and 13 against the Indianapolis Colts from last season was playing on the TVs.

The footage is also rolling in the cafeteria to make the message clear: Don’t let what happened against the Colts -- a 31-3 loss in Week 6 and a 31-0 loss in Week 13 to be exact -- happen again.

It’s not the first time they've seen the replay.

Coach Lovie Smith has used the footage as a motivational tool heading into Sunday's season opener against the Colts (1 p.m. ET, CBS). He has replayed those two losses countless times this offseason.

“They dominated us at their place and at home," Smith said. "We do remember that.”

However, the Texans believe they beat themselves more than the Colts beat them.

In 2021, the Texans finished with a 4-13 record. They lost eight games by double digits, as Houston finished with the third-worst point differential in the NFL (172).

But those two divisional losses to the Colts sit within the minds of the Texans.

“They are the first opponent we have in our division, and we can't ignore what happened last year,” center Justin Britt told ESPN. “We understand it's a new year, we’re a new team, they're a new team, new leadership, but we definitely don't want to feel the way we felt last year against them.”

In the first matchup, both teams entered the game with one win.

But only the Texans played like a one-win team.

Colts running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 145 yards -- most in the NFL for the week -- and two touchdowns on 14 carries, while Texans quarterback Davis Mills' two interceptions marked one of two times he threw multiple interceptions in a game.

In the Week 13 matchup, Taylor rushed for more yards (143) than the Texans' combined rushing and passing total (141).

But Mills doesn’t view Sunday as a total revenge game, though the results of last season do stay on his mind.

“You gotta look back at last year, we lost both games 31-0 and 31-3. So we gotta get back, make it feel right again and go get a win this weekend,” Mills said. “I won’t say 'revenge game' -- but just hold a little bit of a grudge so you can go out there and play fast on Sunday.

“I'm ready to go out and change the outcome this year."

The Texans have lost four straight to Indianapolis, and the last time they beat them was on Nov. 21, 2019. Only four players remain on the roster from that day in 2019 -- left tackle Laremy Tunsil, long-snapper Jon Weeks, tight end Jordan Akins and right tackle Tytus Howard.

Though the Colts will be led by former Atlanta Falcons quarterback and MVP Matt Ryan, the Texans believe the key to slowing down the Colts' offense begins with Taylor, who led the NFL in rushing last season.

But regardless of who’s running the show, the Texans believe reducing self-inflicted errors will give them the best shot at winning.

“It boils down to us," defensive end Jonathan Greenard said. “Their game plan is not gonna change. They are who they are. We got to make sure that we set the tone.”

Regardless of motivational tactics, Smith knows that the Texans have to perform on the field if they want to remove the bitter taste out of their mouths of being outscored 62-3 .

“Talk can’t get it done,” Smith said. “A lot of what happened were things we did, in all three phases. We feel like we corrected a lot of that. That’s why we can’t wait to see exactly how far we’ve come since that day.”