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Colts take swing at South-topping Texans

Updated: 08-12-2018 06:46 IST

If one is searching for a turning point to the Houston Texans' season, rewind to Week 4 and a winless club fighting to avoid flushing its season after one month.

After starting 2018 with three straight losses to give it nine in a row, dating back to 2017, Houston coughed up a 28-10 third quarter lead at Indianapolis and trailed in overtime. But the Texans got 29 and 37-yard field goals from Ka'imi Fairbairn in the final 1:50 of the game to pull out a 37-34 win.

That started a nine-game winning streak that's carried Houston (9-3) to the brink of an AFC South title. Should Jacksonville win Thursday night in Tennessee, the Texans could clinch on Sunday if they beat the Colts in a rematch.

"Pulling through the adversity, it just kind of slingshotted us to where we're at now," Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson said. "That was one game where we went through all types of phases, situations that kind of put us through this nine-game winning streak. It was the start of everything."

Texans coach Bill O'Brien could have been headed for unemployment had his team dropped to 0-4. Instead, nine straight wins have furthered the notion that last year's 5-11 record was a byproduct of a crushing injury wave more than poor talent or terrible coaching.

While Houston is riding the wave, Indianapolis was drowned by it last week in Jacksonville. Quarterback Andrew Luck's streak of eight straight games with at least three touchdown passes ended in a bagel.

The 6-0 loss to a Jaguars team that had lost eight of nine prior to the game was made even more maddening by the Colts' inability to pick up points from any of three situations where they turned down cinch field goals to go for it on fourth down and failed.

The last miss, which happened with 2:38 left when Luck was sacked for a 9-yard loss on fourth and goal from the 1, put Indianapolis in a four-team tie at 6-6.

That's a game behind surging Baltimore for the AFC's second wild-card spot.

"At the end of the day, it came down to execution," Colts coach Frank Reich said. "Offensively, we just didn't execute and that ultimately falls on me. It's my job to put the players in the best position and we didn't get that done."

Luck and Watson combined for 839 yards and six touchdown passes in their September 30 meeting, four by Luck. But a failed fourth down gamble in Indianapolis territory gave the Texans a chance to win it, and Watson hit DeAndre Hopkins for 24 yards to set up Fairbairn for the game-winner.

The Colts will remain without starting center Ryan Kelly (knee), along with wideout Dontrelle Inman (shoulder) and tight end Mo Alie-Cox (calf). Wideout T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) is questionable, while tight end Eric Ebron (back/illness) is expected to play after practicing on Friday.

The Texans will be without right guard Zach Fulton (hand), while wideout Keke Coutee (hamstring) and cornerback Johnathan Joseph (neck/shoulder) are questionable.

--Field Level Media

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)