HOUSTON - Opportunity was abound in the spacious confines of Reliant Stadium Sunday afternoon.
The Colts had not only a chance to stay alive in the AFC South race with a victory over the Texans, the also had a shot to prove they were a team that could beat the NFL's elite away from Lucas Oil Stadium.
Also, a win would clinch one of the more unexpected playoff berths in franchise history.
Glass-half-empty fans, however, might look more cautiously on the showdown in Houston. Perhaps, some would say, a loss to the Texans could prove that the Colts are a squad knocking on the door of the NFL's elite, but not ready to walk through yet.
In the end, the result is somewhere in the middle. The Colts were competitive with the Texans, unlike a road game earlier in the season with the Patriots, but unable to overcome an early deficit in a 29-17 loss on Sunday afternoon at Reliant Stadium.
Bruce Arians' team falls to 9-5 on the season but still only need one win in their final two games to make the playoffs. The division, however, belongs to the Texans who clinched with the victory over the Colts today.
The first quarter brought pessimism to some when the Texans asserted themselves as the best team in the AFC. Matt Schaub hit Andre Johnson for a 52-yard gain on the opening drive to set up a Shayne Graham field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Schaub and Johnson would take their next drive the distance, completing it with a three-yard connection for a touchdown to make the lead 10.
The Colts showed signs of life in the second quarter as they drove down to the Houston one-yard line. Mewelde Moore couldn't keep his hands on the ball on a second down rush and his fumble was recovered by the Texans to end the drive.
Unfazed by the error the Colts were able to get another drive inside the Houston ten-yard line on the next possession and completed it with an Adam Vinatieri field goal to make it 10-6.
Houston then appeared ready to push the game open after getting a field goal and then a punt block touchdown by Bryan Braman to make it 20-3. But Luck got the Colts back into the game on the next possession with a 61-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton, who was wide open over the middle and easily got into the endzone.
The third quarter saw the Colts chop more into the lead when Luck answered another Graham field goal with a touchdown pass to Dwayne Allen to cut the lead to 23-17. Another Graham kick in the fourth quarter, however, pushed the lead to nine early in the fourth quarter.
Offensive momentum for the Colts, however, stalled later in the fourth quarter as the team couldn't put together a substantial drive. With Foster leading the way, the Texans got the ball back with just under four minutes to go and got in position for another Graham field goal to make it 29-17.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun