|Date of game: 12/15/2013
Recap: Indianapolis vs. Houston
Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Andrew Luck tossed a pair of touchdown passes and the Indianapolis Colts cruised to a 25-3 triumph over the reeling Houston Texans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Luck completed 19-of-32 passes for 180 yards with an interception, while Trent Richardson racked up 102 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown for the AFC South champion Colts (9-5), who bounced back from an ugly 42-28 loss last week at Cincinnati.
"I don't think we're that fickle where we have to lose confidence like that after a bad game," Luck said of coming off last week's setback. "Hopefully we can get a little mojo going through these next two games. This was a good start against a good division team."
The turmoil with the Texans, who have lost a franchise-worst 12 straight games, reached a tipping point during the week leading up to Sunday's game, as head coach Gary Kubiak was fired after eight seasons and a pair of division crowns. Wade Phillips, who also handled matters following Kubiak's medical scare on Nov. 3, took over on an interim basis.
Despite the change in leadership, the play on the field remained the same for Houston (2-12), which saw quarterback Case Keenum complete just 18-of-34 passes for 168 yards with a pair of interceptions.
"I was bad today," Keenum admitted. "My teammates deserve better and my coaches deserve better."
The Colts' opening drive set the tone for the entire tilt, as Luck led his squad on an 11-play, 80-yard sequence that featured a trio of third-down conversions.
Griff Whalen capped the trek with his first NFL touchdown, hauling in a 14- yard strike from Luck to make it 7-0 just under 5 1/2 minutes into the game.
Randy Bullock buried a 49-yard field goal late in the first to get Houston on the board, but Darius Butler picked off Keenum two plays in the Texans' next touch and returned it 13 yards to the Houston 17.
Indianapolis failed to pick up a first down and settled for a 37-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri, but after another Houston punt, Luck threw his second TD pass of the half to increase the Colts' cushion.
T.Y. Hilton highlighted the drive with a 41-yard reception and Richardson capped it by hauling in a short pass and rumbling nine yards into the end zone to make it 17-3 with just over seven minutes left in the half.
Butler picked off Keenum again to end the Texans' next series, setting up Vinatieri's 43-yard field goal that pushed the spread to 20-3 with 1:44 left in the half.
The Colts carried their 17-point lead into the break and forced a quick three- and-out from Houston to open the second half.
Whalen returned the Houston punt 51 yards to the Texans' 28, and Vinatieri connected on a 40-yard field goal to make it 23-3 just over 2 1/2 minutes into the third.
Indianapolis extended the lead late in the stanza when Robert Mathis blindsided Keenum in the end zone and knocked the ball free. Offensive lineman Duane Brown pounced on the fumble, resulting in a safety that pushed the difference to 25-3 with under two minutes left in the third.
Mathis recorded his 108th career sack on the play, surpassing Dwight Freeney for first place on the franchise's all-time list. His 16 1/2 sacks this season also broke Freeney's single-season franchise record set in 2004.
Houston failed to get closer than the Indianapolis 41 over the final 15 minutes, allowing the Colts to close out the victory.Game Notes
The Colts improved to 12-0 all-time against Houston at home ... Luck's
interception was his first in his last 86 pass attempts ... Luck has 21 TD
passes this season, becoming the fifth QB in NFL history with at least 20 TD
passes in each of first two seasons (23 last year) ... Kubiak was 61-64 over
eight seasons as Houston's head coach ... Hilton caught a game-high eight
passes for 78 yards ... Houston was whistled for 14 penalties, totaling 114