The Indianapolis Colts overwhelmed the Houston Texans on Saturday evening, winning 21-7 to book a spot in the divisional round of the playoffs, just two games away from the Superbowl.
Despite being the favourites going into the game, having won the wide-open AFC South division and playing in front of a home crowd at the NRG Stadium in Houston, the Texans did not really manage to get into the game.
The Colts conversely had only scraped into the playoffs as a Wild Card, having beaten the Tennessee Titans in the last game of the season to finish second in the AFC South. However, they did have the psychological advantage of having already beaten the Texans at Houston just under a month ago, 24-21 and, earlier in the season when the two met at the Lucas Oil stadium in Indianapolis (since the teams are in the same division they meet twice per season, home and away) the margin was only three points that time as well, albeit in the Texans favour.
This third meeting of the season/post-season saw the Colts dominate possession, scoring two unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter, and one in the second. Colts' QB Andrew Luck's passing was on point, picking up two touchdowns that way, with the other via an equally strong rushing game demonstrated by the Colts, particularly RB Marlon Mack.
Defensive End Margus Hunt himself had a solid game, pulling off two tackles and one assist and coming close to intercepting a pass from Texans' QB Deshaun Watson, which ended up being incomplete and, in any case turned over on downs.
Prize a trip to Kansas City
With the scoreline 21-0 at the halfway point and the scoreless third quarter turning into something of an artillery duel of punting, things looked wrapped up by the fourth. However, the Texans didn't give up, with DeShaun Watson putting in some notable runs (one being brought to an end by a Hunt tackle), perhaps to atone for a frustrating evening of passing. Houston scored a consolation touchdown, which arguably shouldn't have been given since the receiver did not look in control of the ball as he came crashing down on the end zone pylon, but in any case it was too little too late, with Hunt's team finishing 21-7 up.
The result was also Margus' Hunt's first career playoff victory either with the Colts or his previous team, the Cincinnati Bengals. Getting to the playoffs at all also represents something of a turnaround in fortunes for the team, which started the season with a record of 1-5, making them one of only three teams in the Superbowl era to reach the playoffs after such a poor start to the season.
The Colts now face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium for a mouth-watering divisional playoffs game. This looks set to be an even tougher challenge; the Chiefs finished top of their division 12-4 on net points and will be looking for their first Superbowl appearance since way back in 1970 in the final pre-merger AFL-NFL showdown which saw them overcome the Minnesota Vikings. The Colts' Superbowl drought is much shorter, having last appeared at Superbowl XLIV in 2010 and last winning three years earlier at Superbowl XLI.
Kickoff is at 16.35 Eastern Time on Saturday, 12 January (23.35 EET).
Editor: Andrew Whyte