Colt Kicking

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December 26, 2006
Colt Kicking

by Ric Sweeney

Sunday was Christmas Eve, but the Colts played like it was mid-January as the Texans shocked Indianapolis on a last-second 48-yard field goal by Kris Brown, 27-24. The win, powered by a chain-moving, clock-draining ofensive gameplan, marked the team’s first-ever win in 10 tries against Peyton Manning and its division rival and enters the pantheon as one of, if not the biggest win in franchise history.

Led by Ron Dayne’s 153 rushing yards, Houston mounted scoring drives of 8:00 and a franchise-best 9:29, which rendered Manning and his high-powered offense spectators for much of the afternoon. Meanwhile, quarterback David Carr played mistake-free football, completing 16 of 23 passes with zero turnovers and no sacks.

On the game’s opening drive, Dayne carried 4 times for 18 yards and Carr connected on three of five passes, including a 25-yarder to tight end Mark Bruener, before Dayne powered in from three yards out on his fifth carry to give Houston an early, and surprising, 7-0 lead.

Those expecting that to be Houston’s lone highlight of the day were given reason to jump right back out of their seats when, two plays later, Mario Williams forced a Dominic Rhodes fumble that Anthony Weaver recovered at the Colt 47. Carr was again 3 of 5, including two third down conversions, and Dayne finished things off with a 6-yard rumble and with roughly six minutes still left on the first quarter clock, the Texans led, 14-0.

Indianapolis, of course, wasn’t going to be shut out. Manning roared back with a 10-play, 80-yard drive, hitting Marvin Harrison three times, including a 37-yard touchdown strike to wake the Colts up, 14-7. After forcing a Texan punt, the Colts struck again.

Joseph Addai, a Houston native, rushed 65 yards and Manning capped the 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown to Aaron Moorehead. As quickly as the Texans had built a 14-point lead, the Colts had erased it with nearly nine minutes left in the half.

But the Texans responded big-time with arguably their biggest drive of the season.

Dayne and Chris Taylor combined to rush for 51 yards as Carr added 12 more and the Texans moved the chains yard-by-yard to the tune of 8 minutes before a Carr bootleg found Vonta Leach from 3 yards out as Houston pushed back ahead, 21-14, leaving Manning just :22 of first half clock. The TD toss was Carr’s first since November 26.

After both teams exchanged punts to open the second half, the Colts found a successful run-pass balance to go 65 yards, setting Adam Vinatieri up for a 33-yard field goal, cutting the Texan lead to 21-17. But once again, Houston responded.

After a Fred Weary false start endangered the drive, sticking Houston with a 2nd and 14 from their own 34, Carr hit two in row, 10 yards to Jeb Putzier and then 17 to Andre Johnson on third down to sustain the drive. From there, Dayne and Taylor churned out yards until Dayne broke what looked like a game-clinching 25-yard touchdown. But Johnson’s grab of a Colt jersey was flagged, negating the score. Undeterred, Brown nailed a 42-yard field goal to increase the lead to seven, 24-17, with 6:58 left in the game – an eternity for Manning.

And sure enough, the Colts methodically marched down field. Manning hit Harrison for 12, Reggie Wayne for 12, and then 8 and then found a wide open Brandon Fletcher in the middle of the field for 23 yards, setting up an easy 7-yard slant to Harrison for the game-tying score with 2:46 remaining.

But the Texans would not be denied. Dexter Wynn returned the kick 38 yards to give Houston excellent field position at their own 39. Dayne then grinded out 9 yards, leaving Carr a 3rd and 1 from Houston’s own 48, which he converted by diving across the line on a QB sneak. He then hit a 17-yard strike to Johnson at the Colt 33. After Dayne lined up the field goal with 3-yard dive, Brown gave the fans in attendance an early Christmas present, nailing the 48-yard game-winner with room to spare.

The Texans are now 5-10 and host Cleveland to close out the season next week. If they can win (and they figure to be favored against the 4-win Browns), it would mark the team’s first win streak since 2004. What Went Right?

The Texans never wavered from their intended clock-draining game plan by running on the Colts’ porous run defense. Even after Indy erased Houston’s early momentum and tied the score at 14, the Texans responded with 63 rushing yards on an 8:00 scoring drive.

Special Special Teams
Not only did Brown nail two huge field goals in the fourth quarter, but Dexter Wynn averaged 29.4 yards on five kick returns, including a clutch 38-yarder to set-up the Texans at their 39 on the game-winning drive.

After arguably their worst performance of the year, the Texans rebounded on the strength of Dayne, nearly cut weeks ago, Carr, who’s already been run out of town, and Brown, who last year missed so many key FGs, the team was accused of tanking for Reggie Bush – err, Mario Williams. More importantly, after a tumultuous stretch that had fans leaping off the bandwagon, Sunday’s win restored faith that Gary Kubiak has his team pointed in the right direction. What Went Wrong?

Peyton Still Being Peyton
Look, the Colts are a great offensive football team, so this shouldn’t come as a big surprise, nor should it be read as a knock, but Peyton Manning and Co. did pretty much whatever they wanted Sunday. He completed nearly 80% of his passes while throwing for 3 TDs without an interception; Joseph Addai totaled 100 yards on nearly 7 yards a carry and Marvin Harrison caught 8 passes for 112 yards and two scores as the Colts averaged 7.1 yards a play. Were it not for the Texan running game…

The Texans were only whistled for four, but two of them, both on the same drive, nearly derailed the celebration. Fred Weary’s false start handed Carr a 2nd and 14 early in the fourth quarter, and then Andre Johnson’s hold wiped out a 25-yard TD from Ron Dayne, which would have put Houston up 28-17. They settled for a FG instead, but both could have been cataclysmic and are the kind that normally sinks this team.

What Could Have Been
Five wins is nice, but the Texans have lost two on the game’s final play… Seven would be a lot nicer…

Key Play Of The Game

Obviously, Brown’s 48-yard game winner was somewhat important, but three plays prior to that were equally huge: Wynn’s 39-yard kick return; Carr’s 3rd and 1 conversion, and Johnson’s 17-yard catch were all integral to setting Brown up..

Game 15 Recap Quaterback David Carr dry humps Kris Brown after Brown kicked the game-winning field goal. Final Score Houston Texans 27 Indianapolis Colts 24 Lookin’ Good

David Carr
For just the third time in his 74 career starts, Carr wasn’t sacked and didn’t turn the ball over. The Texans are now 3-0 on those rare occasions.

Oh, my eyes!

Demarcus Faggins
He isn’t the first, and he certainly won’t be the last, but Marvin Harrison put move after move on poor Faggins to the tune of 112 yards and 2 TDs.

2006 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.12 Kansas City 24-14 08.19 St. Louis 27-20 08.27 at Denver 14-17 08.31 Tampa Bay 16-13 Regular Season 09.10 Philadelphia 10-24 09.17 at Indianapolis 24-43 09.24 Washington 15-31 10.01 Miami 17-15 10.08 Bye 10.15 at Dallas 6-34 10.22 Jacksonville 27-7 10.29 at Tennessee 22-28 11.05 at NY Giants 10-14 11.12 at Jacksonville 13-10 11.19 Buffalo 21-24 11.26 at NY Jets 11-26 12.03 at Oakland 23-14 12.10 Tennessee 20-26 12.17 at New England 7-40 12.24 Indianapolis 27-24 12.31 Cleveland 14-6   Overall Record 6-10