Friday, October 10, 2014

Watt and Houston Come Up Short in Epic Battle against Indianapolis

Football is the most beloved drama of our times.  Whether in front of our TV sets/devices or watching in the stands, football has it all.  Nothing compares to its drama and spectacle.  

Last night, you didn't need an emotional tie to the Texans-Colts battle to get reeled in hook, line, and sinker.  There was J. J. Watt, the Texans defensive end, who gives his best every second and seemingly exhausts himself in the first ten minutes of the game and then calls on superhuman energy to keep going.  You had to keep watching even though the game looked like it was over in the first quarter.  What could Watt do?  

And there was Andrew Luck, who is looking more and more like one of the best quarterbacks in the league.  

The game featured several notable contributions: T. Y. Hilton's 9 receptions for 223 yards,  Pat McAffee's onside kick, Ahmad Bradshaw's rushes for extra yards and Arian Foster's smooth runs for 141 yards including 2 touchdowns.  Watt's play throughout the game and his fumble recovery and touchdown were fan-pleasing.  Ryan Fitzpatrick looked capable, but he was often rushed. The highlight reel for this game runs long and deep into both lineups. 

After the Texans went three and out on their first series,  the Colts Griff Whalen returned their punt for 17 yards to the 36-yard line.  The Colts had mixed success on offense, but Luck connected with Dwayne Allen for 15 yards and T.Y. Hilton for 40 yards. Trent Richardson runs kept the Houston defense honest, but the drive stalled and Adam Vinatieri kicked a 27 yard field goal to put the Colts ahead, 3-0. As fans were wondering how Houston would respond, Pat McAfee surprised everyone with an onside kickoff that he recovered.  Before the Texans defense could swallow their Gatorade, they were back on the field.  Immediately, Andrew Luck went to Hilton again, this time for 49 yard and Trent Richardson took it in from the 5-yard line.  After the extra point, Indianapolis was ahead, 10-0.

You have to give the Houston fans credit, because it didn't seem like the stadium quieted down much.  It's one of the benefits when you have a great defensive star, a big part of the drama comes from matching up to adversity.  

Another Texans three and out was followed by another good punt return by Griff Whalen--this one for 14 yards to Colts 44.  A couple runs set up a third and short for Luck who hit Dwayne Allen for 18 yards to the Texans 31-yard line. Luck hit Hilton for 14 yards and a pass interference call came a few players later.  Ahmad Bradshaw took it in from 5 yards. Bradshaw would prove to be difficult for the Texans to bring down most of the night. 

When the Texans had the ball, Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked twice on their series and once again the Texas offense went three and out.  The Texas defense buckled down, but Luck was able connect with Hilton on a third down pass that yields 37 yards to the 30-yard line. Mercifully, the Colts took some time to march down the field where Luck tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Coby Fleener.  As the first quarter closed, Indianapolis leads, 24-0.  Still the Houston crowd is not quiet.

Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is able to put together a touchdown drive that features a 28-yard pass play to Arian Foster. Fitzpatrick hits Andre Johnson from 4-yards out for the score.  Colts lead 24-7.  Whalen returns the kickoff to the Indianapolis 24.  On first down, Luck  is intercepted by Justin Tuggle who returns it to the Colts 24-yard line. Two plays later, Arian Foster rushes in from 12 yards out for the touchdown. The Colts lead is cut to 24-14. 

Luck puts together another long deliberate drive that ends with an Adam Vinatieri field goal.  Ahmad Bradshaw is featured in this drive as a receiver and rusher.  Houston continues to have trouble tackling Bradshaw. At the half, the  Colts lead, 27-14. 
The first three possessions of the second half yield no points. When Houston takes over on their own 30-yard line, Fitzpatrick calls Foster's number and he responds with an 8-yard and 34-yard run.  A pass to Andre Johnson gains 26 yards and Foster finishes the drive with a 2-yard scoring run. The Colts are still ahead, but only, 27-21.  

Luck goes back to Hilton on the next possession on a pass for  18-yards.  After a  short gain by Richardson, Luck hits Hilton for 33-yards and a score.  The Colts try for a 2-point conversion and fail. Colts lead, 33-21. After Arian Foster softens up on the Colts defense on a couple runs, Fitzpatrick hits Damaris Johnson for 40 yards, but the drive stalls.  The Texans miss a field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter and the Colts take over.  Luck moves the Colts up to midfield and fumbles when he is sacked--Watt picks up the lose ball and runs in for a 45-yard score.  The Colts lead is cut to 33-28 after the extra point.  

The Colts next drive stalls and when the Texans take over, they move the ball towards midfield, but when Fitzpatrick hits Andre Johnson, he fumbles and the Colts Mike Adams recovers at the Colts 40-yard line .  Luck takes over, but the Houston defense spearheaded by Watt is able to hold the Colts one last time.  The ball is punted back to the Texans with 2:21 remaining.  

An exhausted J.J. Watt and his defensive teammates watch as Fitzpatrick and the Texans offense have one last shot at redemption, but they are standing at their own 9-yard line.  It proves too much for Fitzpatrick, who has been rushed all day long.  On the second play of the series, he is sacked and fumbles.   D'Qwell Jackson recovers. Game over.