With Moncrief out of the lineup, the Colts signed former Cowboys draft pick Devin Street off the Patriots’ practice squad. Street will likely vie with Quan Bray and cheap jerseys and undrafted rookie Chester Rogers for snaps behind Hilton and Dorsett.
Luck was the best quarterback we saw in Week 1. He regressed in Denver last week, though, with Moncrief sidelined, Hilton and Dorsett unable to shake free of physical coverage and the offensive line overwhelmed by a superior Broncos front seven.
HOUSTON — Sunday night’s 26-23 overtime victory by the Houston Texans over the Indianapolis Colts did not showcase beautiful football. But it was a nifty reminder of how quickly NFL obituaries are rewritten. Early in the fourth quarter, Texans fans were already streaming out of parking lots, convinced their team had lost but hoping they might not have to be subjected to much more of quarterback Brock Osweiler. By the time they pulled into their garages, Osweiler had stolen Andrew Luck’s Captain Comeback cape and Chuck Pagano had supplanted him on the firing line. The Colts blew a 14-point lead with under three minutes left, a collapse that marked a low point for a team that has never seemed to recover from that one run to the AFC Championship Game.
The Colts have lost four of their last five division games since the midpoint of last season, and that is at least as damning as losing a game in overtime that they had led 23-9 late in the fourth quarter. That they helped Osweiler strengthen his tenuous grip on his job for at least a week is an interesting footnote — Osweiler was 12 of 15 for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, following 11 of 22 for 89 yards with an interception in the first three — but the more immediate problem for the Colts is a confounding lack of a killer instinct. As a result, the Colts are 2-4, hardly dead in the middling AFC South, but in last place for now and searching for some way out of the morass that is the division standings and their own mental torpor.
Benardrick McKinney made a terrific play on the Colts’ final offensive play, recognizing a screen pass attempt on fourth-and-one near midfield. McKinney, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney have been excellent all year and came through Sunday, especially Clowney. Playing through an injury, Clowney hit Andrew Luck on one interception, forced a fumble, had three QB hits and drew a big holding penalty. The Texans had 13 QB hits (but only one sack) as they won the battle up front on both sides.
While Brock Osweiler was his usual depressing self for most of the game, give him some credit for key throws on Houston’s fourth-quarter field goal drive which took 6:19 off the clock. If you only watched the fourth quarter of Colts-Texans games this year, you’d think Osweiler has delivered for Houston. The team’s comeback victory in Week 6 now looms large with Houston (7-6) having swept the season series.
The Week 14 matchup between the Colts and Texans could be for the division lead, putting the winner in the tenuous catbird seat. The two road matchups for Indy in Weeks 15 and 16 could be brutal — especially if the Raiders are playing for the No. 1 seed. Coming off a bye, the Titans have a callous two-game stretch versus AFC West powers battling for playoff positioning. The Texans get a reprieve versus Jacksonville and Cincinnati, both battling for draft position.
You could make a case for all three teams winning the division. Each is flawed in their own depressing way. With the best quarterback in the division, the Colts’ hope of returning to the postseason have a slight glimmer.
Adrian Peterson’s long-awaited return was anticlimactic. Sporting a brace on his surgically repaired knee, the seven-time Pro Bowler managed just 22 yards on six carries, losing a red-zone fumble at the tail end of his longest run (13 yards). Although Peterson functioned as the primary early-down back until the game was out of hand, he never had a chance to reach second gear behind Minnesota’s anemic offensive line. Vikings fans hoping for a savior in problematic short-yardage situations didn’t get a chance to see Peterson in that role.
No one is suggesting Peterson is a competitive liability at this point in his career, but his skill set is ill-suited to the quick-passing attack installed by Pat Shurmur in a desperate midseason coverup for poor pass protection. Sam Bradford had no chance to establish a rhythm during a one-sided 27-0 first half in which the Vikings possessed the ball for just over six minutes.
Grigson’s team is trying to weather a particularly brutal stretch of the schedule, which involved no bye after the loss in London to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now it is two straight road games against the top two teams in their division — the Texans and Tennessee Titans. Most teams would sign up for matchups against the Jaguars, Titans and Chicago Bears in four weeks like Indianapolis has gotten, but the slog of a long season compounded by a trip five hours ahead of their normal time zone probably has everyone in a bit of a slog right now.
In last week’s win over the Bears, Luck posted his second-best quarterback rating of the season, just six points behind the season-opening 119.5. Another good sign? His 71.79 completion percentage against Chicago was his highest since 2014 in a win over the Jaguars. Back then, we didn’t worry much about the Colts’ defense or the general manager putting the team together. Grigson hopes Sunday can return Luck — and himself — to those times.