It wasn't a game filled with fireworks but the Indianapolis Colts went down to NRG Stadium and handled their business against the Houston Texans on Sunday, leaving with a dominating 31-0 victory.
At no point did Houston pose a threat to the Colts who had their own lulls offensively at times. Still, the defense held their ground throughout the entire game and helped put the team back over .500 at 7-6. The Colts now head into their much-welcomed, late-season bye week.
Here are some of my main observations from the lopsided victory.
—Offensive script flips this week. Last week in the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a big talking point was how the Colts dropped back to pass on 27 consecutive plays, dismissing the run while possessing the NFL's leading rusher in Jonathan Taylor. Head coach Frank Reich got some (misplaced) heat for it from the outside, and things were noticeably different this week. On Sunday, the Colts ran the ball 48 times compared to just 22 passes, which is reminiscent of when these two teams played in Week 6. In all, the Colts totaled 238 yards (5.0 avg.) — their third time over 200 rushing yards this year — for 3 touchdowns. Taylor led the way with 32 carries for 143 yards (4.5 avg.) and 2 touchdowns.
—Domination from the defense. Shutouts don't happen often, especially by teams on the road like the Colts were on Sunday. Still, they totally stifled the Texans' offense as they totaled just 141 yards on 50 plays (2.8 avg.). Houston was just 3-of-12 on third down (25.0%), made 0 trips to the red zone, turned the ball over twice, and gave up 4 sacks. It was the Colts' stingiest defensive performance of the season as it was their fewest yards and points allowed. One area the Colts excelled at was putting consistent pressure on Texans quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Davis Mills, as defensive ends Kemoko Turay and Al-Quadin Muhammad both finished with 2.0 sacks. The Colts notched 11 quarterback hits in all
—Kenny Moore II is too good not to make the Pro Bowl this year. Moore got the game started with a toe-tapping, sideline interception on the first play from scrimmage. On Houston's next drive, the Colts' top cornerback then poked his fist through a narrow window and forced a fumble, which was then recovered by the Colts. It was about as bad of a start as the Texans could possibly have offensively, and Moore played a huge role in that. Considering the Colts allowed a net total of 57 passing yards on the day, Moore was also part of a defensive unit that was staunch in coverage. In total, he had 4 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 2 pass breakups.
—The Colts' defense might just hit that 40-takeaway mark. Before the season began, the Colts noted that they had a goal of finishing with 40 takeaways by the season's end. It sounded like a nice goal to have but somewhat unlikely. Well, with two takeaways against the Texans on Sunday and four games remaining on their schedule, the Colts currently have a league-leading 29 takeaways. They've forced a turnover in every game this season and have one in 14 consecutive games dating back to 2020.
—Although a change seems unlikely, the Colts need to evaluate their left tackle position. Overall, the Colts' offensive line has performed very well this season both in run blocking and pass protection. However, there is one link in the chain that has proven to be a liability week after week, and that's left tackle Eric Fisher. He's done well in run blocking but according to Pro Football Focus has allowed the most pressures on the quarterback (32) among any other Colt, including 18 hurries, 8 hits, and 5 sacks (numbers before Sunday's game). As for the other option(s), Matt Pryor has performed quite well for the Colts when called upon but has primarily played on the right side this season. Will the Colts look to make a change at the position? Probably not. However, if they were then perhaps the upcoming bye week would be a good opportunity to make the change.
—What a game for Texans linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill. This piece is obviously Colts-based each week but I would be remiss to not mention the performance of Gruiger-Hill, who was all over the place for the Texans defense on Sunday and played a big part in holding the Colts' run game in check in the first half (Colts averaged 3.9 yards per carry). Grugier-Hill finished the game with 20 tackles (3 for loss), 1.0 sack, and 1 quarterback hit.
What were your biggest takeaways from Sunday? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!