Colts gallop 23-3 over Texans
September 22, 2002
By Katie Lewis
The Texans defense put up a good fight, but in the end, the explosive Indianapolis offense prevailed and captured a 23-3 win in front of 69,204 in Reliant Stadium.
"The number one thing in this business is that you have got to be a fighter," Texans head coach Dom Capers said after the game. "I think we have a group of guys on this team that are fighters."
Today's game marked the first time in over thirty years that a Houston team took the field in an outdoor venue. The last occasion was on December 16, 1967, when the Houston Oilers defeated the San Diego Chargers 24-17 in Rice Stadium.
The Texans won the coin toss and elected to receive, but punter Chad Stanley came in early to record a 42-yard punt to Colts return man Troy Walters. Texans cover man Jason Bell was called for interfering with Walters fair catch signal and the Colts moved forward 15 yards to the Indianapolis 40. The Houston defense, led by Jeff Posey's sack on Peyton Manning, held the Colts ensuing drive, turning the ball back over to the Texans. Posey recorded his second sack of the 2002 season and fifth of his career.
But the Texans offense couldn't produce any points, surrendering the ball back over to Indianapolis. Eating 3:42 off of the game clock, Manning engineered a seven-play, 80-yard drive, sealed off by a 42-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Qadry Ismail. Mike Vanderjagt's extra point sailed through the uprights to give Indianapolis a 7-0 early lead.
Houston held onto the ball only a short time before punting back to Indianapolis. Walters came up with a big, 34-yard return to position his team on the Houston 33. But on their first pass, Texans linebackers Jamie Sharper and Keith Mitchell knocked the ball loose from receiver Jermaine Wiggins' hands, where it was recovered by cornerback Marcus Coleman, giving the Texans another chance to score.
Yet the ping pong game continued when Texans quarterback David Carr's pass to Rod Rutledge bounced into Colts cornerback Idrees Bashir's hands, sending Indianapolis down the field towards their end zone. But Houston's defense would not allow a touchdown, bringing in Vanderjagt to boot a 26-yard field goal, putting the Colts lead at 10-0.
Driving towards the red zone, running back Jonathan Wells took the ball 37 yards on the ground to put the Texans on the Indianapolis 37 to later set up a Kris Brown 54-yard field goal attempt. Brown's attempt had plenty of leg, but just missed and hit the right upright to give the Colts possession.
Led by Posey, who recorded his second sack of the game, the Texans defense was able to give their counterpart another scoring opportunity. But Stanley got more punting action after the Texans offense was not able to produce any points.
Indianapolis took over and put their aggressive offensive plan into motion, ending an eight-play, 46-yard drive with a 39-yard Vanderjagt field goal to increase the Colts lead 13-0 after one half of play.
After the first 30 minutes, the Texans offensive line kept Carr from being sacked and plowed the way for 57 yards on the ground.
The Colts took over to begin the second half and elected to attempt a 47-yard field goal on fourth and one, but Vanderjagt's kick sailed wide right to keep the score at 13-0.
"Third down is just something that we want to be better at," Colts head coach Tony Dungy said after the game. "We had a missed field goal, we had a couple of shots for touchdown passes, we didn't quite get the job done."
After a halftime re-charging, the Texans offense was able to put some points on the board when they traveled 56 yards on 12 plays where Brown kicked a 24-yard field goal, putting the score at 13-3. Brown's kick marked his 34th consecutive scoring game.
The Colts took over but were forced to punt, sending the ball into the hands of Texans return man Avion Black who signaled for a fair catch. But two holding penalties drove the Houston offense half the distance to the goal line, placing them on their own 6.
Stanley punted to begin the fourth quarter and the Colts began at the Houston 39. As Manning led the team closer to the end zone, the Texans defense heightened their pressure and came up with a turnover when defensive lineman Gary Walker recovered Marvin Harrison's fumbled reception on the Houston 13.
On their next possession, Indianapolis covered 69 yards on the gridiron, including a 43-yard Manning to Reggie Wayne touchdown pass, capped off by a Vanderjagt kick to put the Colts ahead 20-3.
"It was a play-action pass and our technique wasn't as good as it needed to be," Capers said. "When you're playing against a quarterback like Peyton Manning, you have to play with good technique or he'll make you pay for it."
With just under three minutes remaining in the game, Houston took over but not for long. Colts defensive lineman Brad Scioli took Carr down to the turf, knocking the ball loose where it was recovered by linebacker Marcus Washington. The turnover resulted in a 37-yard Vanderjagt field goal to seal the Colts 23-3 win.
Though Manning passed for 251 yards, the Texans led in the ground game with 126 yards compared to the Colts 88. Running back Jonathan Wells had his best game so far with 14 carries for 93 yards.
"There are signs that we are getting better as a team," Carr said. "The running game was better. That was something we emphasized. Our plan was to run the football and take our shots down the field but they didn't let us do that."
Texans running back James Allen sprained his shoulder while defensive end Jerry Deloach sprained his knee. Wide receiver and return man Jermaine Lewis left the game with a right shoulder sprain.