Houston Texans defeat Indianapolis Colts to clinch first playoff berth since 2019

The Houston Texans clinched their first playoff spot since 2019 following a 23-19 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, marking a dramatic turnaround from last season when they finished 3-13.

Reaching the playoffs is a remarkable achievement for head coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie quarterback CJ Stroud in their first season at the helm, as they have stemmed the tide of three seasons of double-digit losses.

They are the first rookie quarterback and first-year head coach duo to advance to the postseason since 2012.

Budding superstar Stroud threw 20-of-26 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, while receiver Nico Collins tallied an incredible 195 receiving yards on nine catches to lift the Texans.

“It means a lot to our guys to get the spotlight today and to come away with a really gritty win,” coach Ryans told reporters afterwards. “It wasn’t our best performance … but the guys stood up, made the plays when we needed to make plays, CJ and Nico stole the show.”

Houston Texans quarterback CJ Stroud has had an impressive rookie season. - Zach Bolinger/AP
Houston Texans quarterback CJ Stroud has had an impressive rookie season. - Zach Bolinger/AP

The Texans enjoyed the better start, as Stroud connected with Collins for a 75-yard touchdown on the team’s first offensive play of the game to set the tone early, before Andrew Beck’s touchdown in the second quarter stretched their lead and Houston went into the break up 14-6.

However, a 49-yard touchdown run by Colts star Jonathan Taylor – who finished with 188 yards on 30 carries – and a subsequent two-point conversion early in the third quarter tied the game, lacing it with even more tension given that both the Texans and the Colts needed a win to secure a playoff spot.

Both teams exchanged field goals, before Stroud and the Texans overcame several penalties and loss of yardage on a drive that culminated in a Devin Singletary touchdown to take the lead with 6:20 remaining in the game. However, a missed extra point left the door open for an Indianapolis comeback as the scoreline sat at 23-17 in favor of Houston.

On the ensuing drive, the Colts marched down the field to the Texans’ 15-yard line, and needing one more yard on a fourth-and-1, Colts third string running back Tyler Goodson dropped a wide open pass for the turnover on downs.

“We all have plays that we want back. Just because it’s the last one makes it that much more significant,” Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew said afterwards, according to ESPN. “I told him (Goodson) I’d throw that ball every time. I trust him.”

Stroud finishes the season with over 4,000+ passing yards, becoming the fifth rookie in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

The Texans can still win the AFC South and earn a first-round home game for the first round of the playoffs if the Jacksonville Jaguars lose on Sunday to the Tennessee Titans.

For the Colts, defeat marked the end of their playoff hopes, and they finish the season on 9-8 after suffering three losses in the last five weeks.

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