No one had to say it. After a 16-10 loss to the Houston —the first time the Colts have ever lost to the Texans in Indianapolis—it was clear.
The Colts, once upon a time a popular Super Bowl pick, had just lost their easiest ticket to a playoff berth.
Tight end Dwayne Allen called it frustrating. Right tackle Joe Reitz called it tough. But after another mum offensive performance and a defense that couldn’t hold on, there’s only one way to describe the season that’s been slowly slipping from between the team’s hands:
The Colts, who once dominated the division with 16-straight wins, have suddenly dropped two-straight in the AFC South. No longer do they control their own destiny.
Opportunities to walk out of Sunday’s critical match-up on the winning end were certainly there. A Vontae Davis interception and a Mike Adams strip and recovery ended Houston’s first two drives. Indianapolis dominated in terms of field position, too, their average drive starting at their 48-yard line.
But the Colts couldn’t capitalize and headed into the halftime locker room with just a 10-3 lead.
“We had a great opportunity sitting there in front of us, and we just couldn’t take advantage of it,” head coach Chuck Pagano said. “We came out in the first half with a strong performance defensively, had great field position, but we couldn’t put points on the board.”
The Colts’ inability to get into the endzone wasn’t new. After being outscored 66-3 in the second half coming into this week, Indianapolis was once again outmatched.
Texans third-string quarterback, Brandon Weeden, engineered a 10-play, 90-yard drive in the fourth quarter that ended in an eight-yard haul from wide receiver Jaelen Strong and a score.
Indianapolis had chances to answer, chances to not end the game with another second-half drought, but that all gave way as soon as those opportunities appeared. Griff Whalen fumbled. Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted. The Colts were 6-8.
Their fate—sealed, for this game if not for the entire season.
“It feels like we lost,” inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman said. “It’s pretty obvious. We came here trying to get us a win to seal the division, but we didn’t get that accomplished today.”
While the locker room knew the ramifications of this game, Pagano refused to believe today’s loss will result in the Colts missing the playoffs for the first time under his lead.
“This thing ain’t over,” Pagano said. “Until they mathematically say we’re done, we’re fighting. We’re not done.”
But as the team prepares for a matchup in Miami next week, one thing is for sure:
Without two-straight wins and two-straight Houston losses, they will be.