Zach Pascal scored his second touchdown with less than two minutes to play and the Indianapolis Colts kept pace atop the AFC South with a 27-20 win over the visiting Houston Texans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts (10-4) stayed tied atop the division with the Tennessee Titans by delivering in the clutch after the Texans (4-10) knotted the score at 20-all with Keke Coutee's 9-yard touchdown reception with 7:25 to play.
Pascal capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive with his 5-yard scoring grab with 1:47 left, but the critical play came when Philip Rivers found T.Y. Hilton for a 41-yard gain to the Houston 3-yard line.
Pascal totaled five receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Rivers passed for 228 yards.
Houston threatened to tie the game late, but Colts linebacker Darius Leonard forced Coutee to fumble at the 2-yard line with 19 seconds left. The Colts, saved by a late fumble near the goal line in Houston two weeks ago, recovered in the end zone to seal the victory.
Deshaun Watson passed for 373 yards and two touchdowns, bumping his season total to a career-best 27. Texans running back David Johnson had 11 catches for 106 yards.
The Texans amassed 425 yards but what proved costly was an inability to convert twice in the red zone. Houston had two 12-play drives that totaled 131 yards yet yielded a pair of short Ka'imi Fairbairn field goals. The second, a 31-yarder that pulled Houston to within 17-13 with 1:19 left in the third, came after a crucial false start penalty against Jordan Atkins on third down.
The Colts enjoyed a rousing start, averaging 8.8 yards per play through the first quarter while grabbing a 14-0 lead. Indianapolis covered 81 yards in 10 plays on its initial possession, amassing 47 yards on the ground including a 5-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Taylor.
Indianapolis didn't have to cover nearly as much ground on its second scoring march, converting a Watson fumble at the Houston 42 into Rivers' 11-yard touchdown pass to Pascal. DeForest Buckner forced Watson to fumble with his strip sack and Justin Houston recovered for the Colts, who got a 26-yard Rivers-to-Pascal pass play just prior to their scoring connection.
But as the Colts cooled, and Indianapolis totaled just 87 yards the remainder of the half, the Texans got going. Watson engineered a seven-play, 79-yard scoring drive that included a challenging third-down conversion before Watson found Chad Hansen wide open in the secondary for a 38-yard touchdown. For Hansen, elevated from the practice squad, it was his first career score.
--Field Level Media