Nov 10, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay speaks during a fan event at Chicago Meatpackers before an International Series game against the New England Patriots. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Colts owner Jim Irsay ‘on the mend’ after being hospitalized

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay took to social media Tuesday to reveal that his health is improving after he was hospitalized for a severe respiratory illness.

“On the mend. Grateful for all the messages of love and support,” Irsay wrote on Twitter.

The Colts released a statement on Jan. 9 saying Irsay was undergoing treatment for the illness.

On Dec. 8, per a police report, the 64-year-old was found unresponsive in his home in Carmel (Ind.), prompting emergency personnel to administer Narcan, which is commonly used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Irsay revealed during a November 2023 interview on HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” that he had battled addiction and nearly died from a previous overdose. He said he had been to rehab “at least 15 times.”

Irsay’s father, Robert Irsay, purchased the Baltimore franchise in 1972 and relocated it to Indianapolis in 1984. Jim Irsay was the general manager from 1984-86 before becoming the owner, chairman and CEO in 1997.

–Field Level Media

Aug 15, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; A general view of the exterior of Lucas Oil Stadium before the game between the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis to keep NFL scouting combine in 2025

The NFL scouting combine will stay in Indianapolis in 2025, as the league and the city announced a one-year contract extension on Thursday.

The combine has been held in Indianapolis since 1987, but in recent years the NFL has shown interest in moving it around the country, as it has done with the draft.

Dallas and Los Angeles bid on hosting the combine in 2022, the last time the contract was up, but Indianapolis reached a two-year agreement through 2024.

Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Colts, is the site for on-field drills, which draw thousands of fans with their free attendance. The city’s convention center and hotels are located in easy walking distance from the stadium.

This year’s combine runs from Feb. 27 through March 4.

“We know cities across the U.S. consistently vie to host all of the NFL’s events,” Visit Indy president and CEO Leonard Hoops said in a statement. “We appreciate the NFL’s continued confidence and partnership with Indy, and we are looking forward to continued growth in our city.”

–Field Level Media

Colts owner Jim Irsay is being treated for a severe respiratory illness, the team said Tuesday.

Colts owner Jim Irsay being treated for ‘severe respiratory illness’

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is being treated for a severe respiratory illness, the team said in a statement Tuesday.

It was not known if Irsay, 64, was hospitalized or recovering at his home.

“Jim Irsay is currently being treated for a severe respiratory illness. While this unfortunately means he won’t be able to perform with his band this week in Los Angeles, he is receiving excellent care and looks forward to returning to the stage as soon as possible,” the statement said. “We’ll have no additional information at this time and we ask that you respect the privacy of Jim and his family as he recovers.”

The Irsay Collection event, a free concert set for Thursday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, is a showcase of Irsay’s personal treasure trove of music artifacts collected over several decades. Irsay performed with his band and displayed rare and high-priced instruments in the collection at three live shows in 2023 — a season kickoff event at Lucas Oil Stadium in September and shows in Boston and Las Vegas.

The Colts, who were 4-12-1 in 2022, finished the 2023 season with a 9-8 record and were eliminated from playoff contention with a Week 18 loss to the Houston Texans.

Irsay was in attendance for that Jan. 6 game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

–Field Level Media

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) tosses the ball to Houston Texans running back Devin Singletary (26) on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, during a game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Texans clinch playoff berth by holding off Colts

C.J. Stroud threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns Saturday night and the Houston Texans stopped the Indianapolis Colts on a late drive to secure a 23-19 win in Indianapolis and a spot in the AFC playoffs next weekend.

Devin Singletary’s tiebreaking 3-yard run up the middle snapped a 17-17 tie with 6:20 left in the game. Houston (10-7) completed an improbable journey from the second overall pick in last year’s draft to the postseason, thanks to Stroud and first-year coach DeMeco Ryans.

The Colts (9-8) drove to the Texans’ 15-yard line on their final possession and faced 4th-and-1. After using a timeout, they opted for a pass play, but Tyler Goodson couldn’t hold Gardner Minshew’s throw in the left flat that probably would have gained first down yardage.

Stroud completed 20 of 26 passes.

The Texans, who last made the playoffs in 2019, could win the AFC South and earn a first-round home game next weekend if Jacksonville loses Sunday at Tennessee.

Minshew was 13 of 24 passing for 141 yards, while Jonathan Taylor piled up 188 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. His 49-yard run and Minshew’s two-point conversion pass to Mo Alie-Cox boosted Indianapolis into a 14-14 tie with 9:56 remaining in the third quarter.

But Taylor’s heroics weren’t enough to prevent the Colts from being eliminated from postseason consideration.

Each team scored on its first possession, though in drastically different ways. Indianapolis got the ball to start the game and methodically marched 56 yards, getting a 38-yard field goal from Matt Gay at the 9:15 mark.

Houston needed just one play to answer. Stroud hooked up with Nico Collins over the middle for a 75-yard touchdown, nine seconds after falling behind. That was the start of a huge night for Collins, who caught nine passes for 195 yards on nine targets.

The Texans made it 14-3 with 1:57 left in the half when Stroud flipped a 1-yard strike to Andrew Beck. However, the Colts cut the lead to 14-6 at the break when Gay bombed a 52-yard field goal with 35 seconds remaining.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts running back Zack Moss (21) slides into the end zone for a touchdown while being chased by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Elandon Roberts (50) and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Mykal Walker (38) on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Colts RB Zack Moss (foreram) could return vs. Texans

Indianapolis running back Zack Moss could return to the field after a two-game absence when the Colts host the Houston Texans in Saturday’s AFC South showdown.

Moss has been sidelined with a forearm injury but was listed by the Colts as questionable on Thursday, when he was a full participant at practice.

Moss has rushed for career highs of 764 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games this season. He would likely split time with Jonathan Taylor (553 yards) during the pivotal game.

“It’d be big obviously to get Zack back out there if he’s available to go,” Indianapolis coach Shane Steichen said. “It would be great. And to have that one-two punch back there — what he’s done all year has been awesome.”

The winner of Saturday’s game between the two 9-7 teams will land a playoff spot. The loser will see their season conclude.

Moss rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 when the Colts beat the Texans 31-20 in Houston.

Five other Indianapolis players are listed as questionable, including guard Quenton Nelson (ankle), center Ryan Kelly (ankle) and tackle Braden Smith (knee). Cornerbacks Chris Lammons (ankle) and Kenny Moore II (back) are also questionable.

Houston ruled out standout defensive end Jonathan Greenard (ankle) and receiver Noah Brown (back) on Thursday. Greenard has a team-best 12.5 sacks.

Six players are listed as questionable, including defensive end Will Anderson (ankle) and receiver Robert Woods (hip). The others are defensive tackles Maliek Collins (hip) and Sheldon Rankins (ankle), standout offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (groin) and fullback Andrew Back (calf).

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) attempts a pass during the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Formula simple for Colts, Texans: Win and get in

Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has led the Houston Texans to their first winning season since 2019.

Now he wants a playoff berth.

Stroud and Houston can earn that postseason spot Saturday night with a win in the regular-season finale on the road against another 9-7 playoff hopeful, the Indianapolis Colts.

Indianapolis also would wrap up a postseason berth with a win. In addition, the Houston-Indianapolis winner would capture the AFC South title and get a home playoff game if the Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7) lose their Sunday road game against the Tennessee Titans.

“At the end of the day with this game, we have to execute,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said. “That’s what it comes down to. … You can get caught up in the hype of how big it is. Yeah, everyone understands that, but what does it matter when the ball is snapped? It doesn’t. It matters about you executing, being where you are supposed to be and winning that snap.”

Stroud, in his first game back from a concussion that put him on the sideline for two games, was 24 of 32 for 213 yards last week, patiently picking apart the Titans with short passes. He fired a 12-yard touchdown pass to Brevin Jordan in the second quarter and led his team to a turnover-free performance.

And in doing so, he reminded some that the uproar from last season’s meaningless Week 18 game matching the Texans and Colts was much ado about nothing. Then-Houston coach Lovie Smith went for two and the win after a late touchdown — and got it.

When the victory cost the Texans the No. 1 overall pick that eventually went to Carolina via a trade with the Chicago Bears, Houston selected Stroud at No. 2 right after the Panthers tabbed Bryce Young. While Young has struggled amid franchise dysfunction, Stroud and Ryans have turned Houston into an immediate contender.

“(The) offense has done a really nice job all throughout the year,” Ryans said. “Starting with Bobby (Slowik, the offensive coordinator) as he’s led the offense through many different guys being in. … It starts there, just being able to manage the roster and being able to work with whoever is available and still finding a way to get it done.”

Indianapolis enters Week 18 with the AFC’s final wild-card spot in hand. Had things turned out differently, this could have been a matchup of rookie quarterbacks.

Anthony Richardson, drafted by the Colts No. 4 overall last April, provided a tantalizing glimpse of his vast potential during a 31-20 thumping of Houston on Sept. 17, running for two first-quarter touchdowns before leaving due to a concussion.

However, Richardson sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5, forcing the Colts to play backup Gardner Minshew. And for the most part, Minshew has done the job, including a 23-20 home win over the Las Vegas Raiders last week. He completed 15 of 23 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown while avoiding the mistakes that have spotted some of his losses.

Now Indianapolis stands one win away from the playoffs.

Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin said, “For us, we just understand what’s at stake. These are the type of games you play for. It’s not really any much more motivation, anything more that needs to be said to get you ready to prepare.”

Running back Jonathan Taylor added, “Same mentality, but this time it’s everything you got — and it’s been like that the past few weeks.”

The running game figures to be crucial to the Colts’ success. Taylor, in his second game back from thumb surgery, piled up 96 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries last week. If the former NFL rushing champion can enjoy that type of game again, it would give Minshew more advantageous passing situations.

Another key will be which team can best crank up its solid pass rush. Indianapolis’ 49 sacks rank fifth in the NFL and the Texans aren’t far behind with 45, tied for 10th. The defense that does a better job of keeping its opponent behind the chains could decide a playoff spot.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs with the ball along the sidelines after making a catch against the New England Patriots during the second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

NFL playoff scenarios: Dolphins, Bills, others control own destiny

The Miami Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills and three AFC South clubs are among the eight NFL teams who control their own playoff destinies in Week 18.

The Dolphins (11-5) will host the Bills (10-6) in the final game of the regular season Sunday night, with the winner clinching the AFC East title. The Dolphins would also get in with a tie, while the Bills still can wind up as the sixth or seventh seed in a few other scenarios, including a loss or tie by the Jacksonville Jaguars or Pittsburgh Steelers.

The three-team race in the AFC South features the Jaguars, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, all currently 9-7.

The Jaguars control their destiny to win the division title simply by beating the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon, but when the Texans visit the Colts on Saturday night, the winner will be guaranteed at least a playoff bid.

If Jacksonville loses to or ties with Tennessee, the Houston-Indianapolis winner will win the AFC South and the right to host a playoff game as the No. 4 seed.

In the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys (11-5) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) are one win away from clinching the NFC East and South titles, respectively.

Dallas visits Washington on Sunday and can also secure the division banner if the Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) lose to the New York Giants. If the Eagles win and Dallas loses or ties — or if the Eagles tie and the Cowboys lose — then Philadelphia will lock up the NFC East crown despite a 1-4 December.

Tampa Bay visits the league-worst Carolina Panthers, and if the Buccaneers tie, they’d still fend off the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South crown if New Orleans loses to or ties with Atlanta.

The Saints (8-8) need to finish with a better record than the Buccaneers (8-8) to win the division, so they need a win and a Tampa Bay loss or tie, or a Saints tie plus a Bucs loss. The Falcons (7-9) can only win the division by beating the Saints and having the Buccaneers lose, forcing a three-way tie at 8-9 that Atlanta would win via tiebreaker.

There is also one NFC wild-card spot still up for grabs, and in that race, the Green Bay Packers (8-8) control their destiny. They have six clinching scenarios for Week 18, but the simplest one is to beat the visiting Chicago Bears.

Also in the chase are the Seattle Seahawks (8-8), the Minnesota Vikings (7-9), the Saints and the Buccaneers.

The Seahawks will grab the wild-card berth if they beat the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay loses or ties. If Seattle happens to tie with Arizona, a Green Bay loss and a loss or tie by either Tampa Bay or New Orleans would also let the Seahawks sneak in.

The Vikings must beat the Detroit Lions and get losses from the Packers and Seahawks, plus a loss by either the Buccaneers or the Saints.

The biggest prizes of the regular season were decided in Week 17 when the Baltimore Ravens (13-3) and San Francisco 49ers (12-4) clinched the No. 1 seeds in the AFC and NFC, respectively.

The Ravens may choose to rest their players in Week 18 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh, at 9-7, still has a path to grab an AFC wild-card berth:
1. PIT win + BUF loss OR
2. PIT win + JAX loss or tie OR
3. PIT win + HOU-IND tie OR
4. PIT tie + JAX loss + HOU-IND doesn’t end in tie OR
5. JAX loss + DEN win + HOU-IND doesn’t end in tie

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew (10) looks to pass the ball while Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (98) defends  in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Colts stay alive, eliminate Raiders from playoff contention

Gardner Minshew threw for 224 yards and a touchdown while Jonathan Taylor ran for 96 yards and another score Sunday as the Indianapolis Colts kept their hopes for an AFC South title alive with a 23-20 win over the visiting Las Vegas Raiders.

Matt Gay added second-half field goals of 38, 33 and 45 yards as the Colts (9-7) remained in a three-way tie with Jacksonville and Houston. They’ll have to beat the Texans at home next week in their regular-season finale and hope the Jaguars lose at Tennessee to claim a division crown.

Minshew completed 15 of 23 passes for Indianapolis, which can do no worse than clinch a wild-card spot by winning next week.

Aidan O’Connell hit on 30 of 47 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns for Las Vegas (7-9), which was eliminated from playoff consideration. Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 126 yards and two scores, including a 1-yard touchdown with 43 seconds remaining that pulled the Raiders within three points.

However, an onside kick by Daniel Carlson was recovered by the Colts’ Rodney Thomas and Minshew was able to take a knee to kill the clock.

Indianapolis won despite being outgained 370-349.

Indianapolis needed less than three minutes on its first possession to find the end zone. Minshew’s 50-yard pass to Josh Downs set up Taylor’s 5-yard touchdown run at the 12:11 mark.

Las Vegas answered on its first possession with a 40-yard field goal by Carlson, capping a 54-yard drive that lasted more than six minutes. Then the game settled into a field position battle that trended the Raiders’ way but didn’t change the scoreboard.

Neither team scored again until a sudden strike by the Colts with 3:53 left in the half. Minshew connected with Alec Pierce down the right side for a 58-yard score, Pierce outrunning the final defender to the pylon for a 14-3 advantage at the break.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts tight end Drew Ogletree (85) celebrates a second half touchdown during the 27-38 Colts loss, Sunday., Oct 29, 2023, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Colts TE Drew Ogletree facing domestic violence charges

Indianapolis Colts tight end Drew Ogletree was arrested on felony charges of domestic violence Friday in Hendricks County, Ind.

Ogletree was charged with one count of domestic battery resulting in moderate bodily injury and one count of domestic battery committed in the physical presence of a child younger than 16 years old, per arrest records from the Hendricks County Jail. Bo

“We are aware of the disturbing allegations involving Drew Ogletree,” the Colts said in a statement. “The team takes these matters seriously. We have notified the NFL and are in the process of gathering more information. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Per the Avon (Ind.) police department, Ogletree’s arrest stemmed from an incident on Tuesday evening. Officers were dispatched to a residence to address a domestic disturbance between Ogletree and a woman.

ESPN reported that a probable cause affidavit revealed that the woman was discovered in an upstairs bedroom in pain. The woman told police that the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Ogletree “body slammed” her during an argument. An ambulance was called and the woman was transported to the hospital, police said.

Per the affidavit, Ogletree’s young son was in the home at the time of the alleged altercation. An arrest warrant was issued Thursday and Ogletree turned himself in to the Hendricks County Jail on Friday.

Ogletree, 25, spent his entire rookie season in 2022 on injured reserve with a torn ACL. He has nine catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games this season.

–Field Level Media

Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) works to push Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) out of bounds Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. clears protocol; RB Zack Moss out

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. cleared concussion protocol but running back Zack Moss has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders.

Head coach Shane Steichen confirmed on Friday that the Colts (8-7) won’t have Moss (forearm) but that Pittman “should be ready to roll.”

Pittman, who also cleared protocol last week before having a relapse, and Moss were both injured in a Dec. 16 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both sat out last Sunday’s 29-10 defeat at Atlanta.

Pittman, 26, leads the Colts with 99 receptions and 1,062 receiving yards and has four touchdown catches in 14 games (13 starts) this season.

Moss, 26, leads Indianapolis with 764 rushing yards and shares the team lead with five rushing touchdowns. He also has 27 catches for 192 yards and two scores in 13 games (eight starts).

Jonathan Taylor returned to the backfield last week and rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Falcons. He has 457 rushing yards and five TDs in eight games (five starts), along with 16 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown in 2023.

–Field Level Media