HOUSTON (AP) — With two minutes remaining, the Houston Texans down 24-21 to the Indianapolis Colts and needing a critical stop at midfield on third-and-1, Andrew Luck tried and tried to draw the Texans offside.
With the play clock dwindling and the Colts facing having to burn a timeout, Luck gave it one last try.
Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney took the bait.
The 5-yard penalty gave the Colts a first down and, ultimately, the win. The Colts (7-6) snapped a nine-game winning streak by the Texans (9-4), trimming Houston’s lead over the AFC South to two games with three remaining.
Clowney later refused to comment when approached by reporters.
“He jumped offsides,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said. “I mean, I think we all saw the same thing. I don’t know what you want me to tell you.”
Houston’s longtime struggles against the Colts returned Sunday. Their Texans’ winning streak started with a 37-34 overtime win in Indianapolis on Sept. 30, but they returned to prior misfortunes against the AFC South foe, falling to 8-26 all-time against the Colts, including 5-12 at NRG Stadium.
“I think the Colts did a good job, but we didn’t play well as an offense,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “It’s always going to be the quarterback, the head coach. I totally understand that, but we just weren’t very good as an offense. We were never able to get into a rhythm.”
Indianapolis’ defense gave Houston fits both in the passing and running game. The Colts sacked Watson five times for a loss of 41 yards and held Houston’s rushing offense to just 89 yards on 25 carries.
Watson had 267 yards passing and 35 yards rushing. Tight end Ryan Griffin led Houston receivers with 80 yards on five catches, while DeAndre Hopkins was held to 36 yards on four catches, including a late 7-yard touchdown reception that cut the lead to three.
“You learn more with a loss than a win,” Watson said. “The wins, you create the mistakes but you won, you celebrate and kind of put them behind. Losses kind of bring out the negative plays. We’ll correct what we need to correct, get back on the same page and move on from it. Maybe it’s a good thing that we ended up losing today, but you never want to lose, you always want to win.
“We’ll push forward.”
Luck threw for 399 yards and two touchdowns, and receiver T.Y. Hilton piled on 199 yards on nine catches. Hilton entered the game as the all-time leader in receiving yards per game at NRG Stadium with 122.3 yards and finished Sunday just shy of 200 yards with nine catches on 12 targets. In seven career games in Houston, Hilton has topped 100 yards four times, with three of those topping 175 yards.
“We just came off a nine-winning streak, so it’s important to not cave your own walls in,” Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “We did some great things this season, and obviously, still have a lot still to play for. We’re not packing our bags quite yet. I think you need to lose every now and then to really get a grip on what teams are trying to do to you.”