Colts get quick rerun against Houston QB Watson
The mixed bag for the Indianapolis Colts’ defense against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson two weeks ago came complete with just enough plays to eke out a victory in Houston.
But there were harrowing moments for the Colts, with Watson passing for 341 yards and rushing for 38 yards and a touchdown. Watson led the Texans to the shadow of the goal posts in the waning moments of Indianapolis’ 26-20 white-knuckle victory.
The Colts sacked Watson five times and recorded the first interception against him since Week 5, yet almost came up short.
In the rematch on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts (9-4) will come armed with the knowledge of what is required to keep Watson corralled. That doesn’t make the job any easier.
“You’ve definitely got to get to him because he’s a big-time playmaker so he can make a big play in a heartbeat,” said Colts defensive end Justin Houston, whose third sack of Watson netted a safety and the final points of the game.
“Anytime a quarterback holds a ball you want to put pressure on them from the D-line to help your linebackers and (defensive backs) out. That’s your job is to put pressure on the quarterback, so when you get the opportunity you’ve got to do that,” Houston said.
Even in the midst of a miserable season for the Texans (4-9), Watson is excelling. He closed Week 14 second in passing yards to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes with 3,761, fourth in passer rating at 109.4, and tied for ninth with 25 touchdown passes.
The Texans have struggled to protect Watson — he has been sacked 39 times, third-most in the NFL — and their rushing attack is last in the league with 1,121 yards. Yet, despite those obstacles, Watson is a threat.
Watson pushed the Colts to the verge of a damaging loss two weeks ago. The challenge of having to contain him again in such a short window presents a unique set of circumstances.
“It’s actually the second time it’s happened to us this year,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “We did it with the Titans earlier and this is a division opponent, nonetheless a team that we both know each other well. There’s pros and cons to it. The thing is, it’s the same for both teams. You don’t worry about it. You take it for what it is, and you make the adjustments that you have to.”
The Texans were eliminated from playoff contention with their 36-7 loss in Chicago last Sunday, a drubbing that included Watson momentarily leaving the game after absorbing a crushing blow.
That play, combined with the ineffective running game, a passing attack bereft of weapons and a subpar offensive line yielded queries regarding Watson and his availability for the stretch run.
“That question has been asked,” Texans interim coach Romeo Crennel said. “My deal is, we’re in this game, we play this game to win and there’s a season to be played. If you shut down Watson, then should you shut down the rest of the team and everybody pack up and go home for three games left?
“We’re in the NFL and there’s certain rules about playing. I think that probably if you shut down your team and left and didn’t play the games, there’d be a tremendous fine involved. So, we’re going to play the games and try to win as many as we can.”
The Texans activated leading rusher David Johnson from the reserve/COVID-19 list but he did not practice Wednesday. The team also placed two defensive starters on season-ending injured reserve, DT Brandon Dunn (pelvic fracture) and safety Justin Reid (torn thumb ligament).
For the Colts, QB Philip Rivers (toe) did not practice Wednesday, joining TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee) and OT Anthony Castonzo (knee).
–Field Level Media