Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne caught a touchdown pass with 19 seconds left to give the Colts only their second win of the season, beating the playoff-bound Houston Texans 19-16 in the NFL on Thursday night.
After 13 straight losses, the Colts (2-13) have won back-to-back games and drew level on wins with St Louis and Minnesota in the reverse “race” for the No. 1 overall draft pick.
Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who played the previous two seasons with Houston, also won his second straight game after losing his first nine NFL starts.
“Reggie certainly had a spectacular game. Caught it well, was active in the running [game], just all around a terrific game,” Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said.
The Texans looked anything but playoff-ready. They settled for two field goals in the red zone, did not convert a third down until getting a lucky bounce late in the fourth quarter, their running game was stymied late and the defense helped the Colts with three penalties on the decisive drive.
Houston (11-4) are now 0-10 in Indianapolis. The Texans have not scored more than 20 points in a game for a month.
When Houston’s Brian Cushing broke through the line on the game’s first play, sacking Orlovsky and stripping the ball, it looked like it might be a replica of the teams’ first meeting, a 34-7 blowout. Arian Foster ran for eight yards on the next play and then scored on a nine-yard burst off the left side to give Houston a 7-0 lead.
Foster carried 23 times for 158 yards, but was repeatedly stopped in the red zone.
“We didn’t turn the ball over nearly as much as we did in that [first] game, but beyond that, we were pretty good at protecting the ball,” Caldwell said. “Our defense played extremely well even though they ran for 171 yards. It was kind of a bend but don’t break defense, but when they had to stop them in the red zone, they stopped them in the red zone.”
There were no more touchdowns until Orlovsky led the Colts 78 yards upfield in the final two minutes, thanks in part to three costly Houston penalties, two of them against rookie defensive end J.J. Watt.
After a pass interference call against Glover Quinn put the ball on the Texans one-yard line, Orlovsky lobbed a pass into the corner of the end zone and Wayne beat the coverage to make the catch.
“All in all, it was a great team win,” Caldwell said. “When the offense needed a drive, we got it. When we needed a field goal we got it. When we needed a stop we got it.”
Orlovsky was 23 of 41 for 244 yards, while Joseph Addai ran 19 times for 59 yards.
This game could go down as the final home game for not only Wayne and Orlvosky, but also key Colts cornerstones such as Jeff Saturday and Robert Mathis — and possibly even injured first-choice future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, though Colts owner Jim Irsay told the NFL Network that if Manning plays next year, it will be in Indianapolis.
“If the situation is where he’s back and he’s healthy, then I see him coming back and playing here,” Irsay said before the game. “There is a lot of speculation about the draft pick and those sorts of things, but what you have to realize is this; is the likes of Peyton Manning going to be seen again? It is not coming, if ever, for a very, very long time. You’re not going to go in this draft or the next draft and get another Peyton Manning.”