Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton connected for three second-half touchdowns and the Indianapolis Colts rallied from an 18-point deficit to take control of the AFC South with a 27-24 win over the two-time division champion Houston Texans on Sunday night at Reliant Stadium.
Luck passed for 271 yards and found Hilton for a 9-yard score with four minutes remaining to give the Colts (6-2) a one-point lead. Luck completed a two-point conversion pass to Coby Fleener for the final margin.
The Texans (2-6) dropped their sixth consecutive game, but not until they surged into Colts territory in the final seconds. On the final snap from scrimmage, second-year kicker Randy Bullock missed his third field goal attempt of the game, a 55-yarder as the clock expired.
Luck, with nine fourth-quarter comebacks, has proved to be talented and resilient. And after the Texans extended their lead to 24-3 with 4:25 left in the third quarter, Luck initiated yet another white-knuckle comeback.
Aided by two third-down conversions, the second coming on a late hit against Luck by Texans linebacker Darryl Sharpton, Luck capped a 13-play, 78-yard touchdown drive with a 10-yard strike to Hilton (seven catches, 121 yards) on third down. The Colts failed to convert a two-point pass attempt.
But after Bullock missed his second field goal attempt on the ensuing Houston drive, Luck struck again. He did so with haste this time.
On the second play of the Colts' first possession of the fourth quarter, Luck hit Hilton in stride for a 58-yard scoring pass, with Hilton blowing past Texans Pro Bowl cornerback Johnathan Joseph en route to the end zone. When Houston stalled yet again, Luck and Hilton capped the rally.
With Case Keenum making his second career start and his first in front of his adopted home crowd, the Texans wasted little time using him. On the third play from scrimmage, Keenum completed a 62-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson down the near sideline after a near-perfect execution of a bootleg rollout.
Two possessions later, the Texans turned prime field position into a 14-0 lead. After a Bryan Braman deflected punt gave Houston the ball at its 43, Keenum completed a 41-yard scoring pass to Johnson down the middle of the field. Johnson beat Colts safety Antoine Bethea on the play, with Keenum tossing a perfectly lofted pass to the back of the end zone.
The Texans closed the first half with a seven-play, 72-yard scoring drive, with Keenum scrambling 22 yards to the Colts 5 before completing his third touchdown pass to Johnson of the half. It marked the first time in his illustrious career that Johnson had three touchdowns in a game.
Defensively, the Texans frustrated Luck into 3-of-12 passing in the first half and sacked him three times.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt blocked an Adam Vinatieri field goal attempt in the first quarter and the Colts needed a 46-yard pass interference penalty on Kareem Jackson to set up their lone first-half score, a 30-yard Vinatieri field goal with 3:30 left before halftime.
NOTES: Texans coach Gary Kubiak collapsed on the sideline as the first half drew to a close and was transported to a local hospital for observation. The Texans' public relations released a statement noting that Kubiak did not suffer a heart attack. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips served as interim coach in the second half. ... The Texans played with the retractable roof open at Reliant Stadium for the first time since Oct. 30, 2011, a 24-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. ... Colts WR Reggie Wayne officially had his streak of 189 consecutive games played snapped. Wayne had the longest streak among active wide receivers and the second longest among all players to Washington Redskins LB London Fletcher, who played his 248th consecutive game earlier Sunday.