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Sport After missing out against Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts' backs are against the wall

09:41  22 november  2019
09:41  22 november  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

Texans-Colts ends in controversy as officials don't review late fumble

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HOUSTON — Frustrated and disappointed, a golden opportunity lost, the Colts find themselves in a familiar place.

They’re headed into the final month of the season with their backs against the wall, and it’s going to take a finish almost as unbelievable as the one they pulled off last year to reach the playoffs.

That’s the position they put themselves in, not because of Thursday night’s 20-17 loss to the Houston Texans, but because of the losses they’ve already taken in November.

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The Colts and Texans square off Thursday in Houston as we break down the betting odds and offer a prediction on the game. The sharps jumped on this number early and bet it all the way down to Colts +3.5. My initial lean was take the tail the steam and take the points, but at second glance, there are

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“This was billed, this was a playoff-game atmosphere,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “It was a good opportunity for us to take sole possession and have a sweep on Houston. It didn’t work out that way."

The Colts (6-5) can’t be left for dead yet.

Not this team, still mostly made up of the guys who clawed their way back from 1-5 last season, got on an unbelievable roll that took them all the way to the divisional round of the playoffs. As long as Reich’s in charge and those guys are in control, there is still potential to turn this season around.

“The message was, there’s still plenty of football left,” Reich said. “And the message was also, we’ve got the guys in the room to do this. We’re playing good up front on both sides of the ball. We can go as far as we want to go.”

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The Colts opponents this week, the Houston Texans are proceeding as if Hilton will indeed take the field in Week 12. Here’s what Texans defensive coordinator Hilton has been a Texans destroyer during his time with Indy. The wideout has played 15 games against Houston over his career, and

Even so, Houston is no guarantee to cover the Texans vs. Colts spread on Thursday Night Football. Indianapolis , which is 10-1 against the Indianapolis ' rushing performance was much-needed since quarterback Jacoby Brissett was back in the lineup after missing just one game with a knee injury.

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But the Colts have to find a way to bounce back after coughing up their golden opportunity to erase the stumbles that put them in this position. Indianapolis entered Thursday night’s game with losses to an uneven Steelers team playing without Ben Roethlisberger, a Chargers team that has disappointed and a hapless Miami team that’s built to lose, even if it’s not playing that way.

Somehow, someway, Indianapolis had a chance to erase all of that and put itself in the driver’s seat.

A win over Deshaun Watson and the Texans would have given the Colts first place in the AFC South, a season sweep over Houston and a chance to put the division to bed when both teams get back to work at the start of December.

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Brissett returned to action on Sunday after missing a week with a knee injury suffered in a Week 9 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Watch former NFL coach Brian Billick preview the Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans Thursday Night Football clash, in the video below.

Against the Ravens, Deshaun Watson completed 18 of 29 passes for 169 yards and an Sarah Barshop ESPN Staff Writer. Texans safety Justin Reid has been ruled OUT with a shoulder injury. Houston held Lamar Jackson and Baltimore scoreless in the first quarter, but gave up touchdowns on

They had it in their hands. For a little while in the second half, Indianapolis led, had a banged-up Texans defense on its heels and Watson somewhat corralled. As ugly as the Colts had looked at times this season, Indianapolis looked like it was on its way to a fourth consecutive win over its chief AFC South rival, a backbreaking blow to a team already battered by injury.

And then it all fell apart.

Even without Marlon Mack, the Colts running game ground out 175 yards, but it wasn’t able to finish drives. A defense that has staked its reputation on taking away the big play suddenly started hemorrhaging in the second half, undone by Watson and his talented pair of receivers, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. A less-than-100 percent T.Y. Hilton and an underwhelming Jacoby Brissett couldn’t mount a counterpunch.

A chance to atone for all the mistakes they made against the Chargers and Raiders and Steelers and Dolphins, and now the Colts find themselves in a position that’s precarious and all-too-familiar.

Houston has the edge, by virtue of a game in the standings, wins over common opponents and schedules that are essentially the same down the stretch. Indianapolis also finds itself in trouble in the crowded AFC wild card race, those losses to the Raiders and Steelers looming large.

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HOUSTON -- Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton and Houston Texans receiver Will Fuller V are both active for Thursday's game in Houston . Jonathan Williams, who rushed for 116 yards after replacing Mack following his injury, is expected to be the Colts ' primary running back against the

Even so, Houston is no guarantee to cover the Texans vs. Colts spread on Thursday Night Football. Indianapolis , which is 10-1 against the Indianapolis ' rushing performance was much-needed since quarterback Jacoby Brissett was back in the lineup after missing just one game with a knee injury.

“We’ve just got to keep our head down,” linebacker Darius Leonard said. “Keep our head down and keep digging.”

That’s the approach Reich was preaching in the locker room after the game, the mantra that has carried this team in the first two seasons of his tenure, the focus on going 1-0 each week that helped pull them out of the pit a season ago.

“The message, our focus, is win the next one,” Reich said. “That’s all that matters.”

But in a quiet, somber locker room at NRG Stadium, it’s clear that this one hurt, that the Colts realize they let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers.

Indianapolis now has a long weekend, 10 days to rally, to reset its season after losing three of its last four games and find the momentum that carried the Colts into the playoffs a year ago. No team knows better that a season can turn itself around, just like that, and tight end Eric Ebron was already beginning to turn the page as he walked off the field.

“The war isn’t over.”

Ebron’s right.

But the Colts’ backs are against the wall, and if they’re going to make the playoffs, it’s going to take a Herculean effort.

An effort that wouldn’t have been necessary if they’d pulled off this win.

Follow the Indianapolis Star's Joel A. Erickson on Twitter @JoelAErickson.

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This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: After missing out against Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts' backs are against the wall

Related Slideshow: Best of the 2019 NFL season (provided by imagn)

a crowd of people watching a football game: Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde (23) runs with the ball as Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore (23) defends during the second quarter at NRG Stadium on November 21, 2019. 

Steelers QB Rudolph fined $50,000 for brawl with Browns .
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