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(Sunday, November 29th)
Final Score: Indianapolis 35, Houston 27
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Peyton Manning tossed three touchdowns and the Colts rallied from a poor first half to take a 35-27 win over the Houston Texans, on a day Indianapolis clinched the AFC South title.
The Colts (11-0) clinched the division for the sixth time in the past seven years after Jacksonville's 20-3 loss to San Francisco.
Manning went 27-for-35 with 244 yards and two interceptions while Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne each caught a score for Indianapolis, which has won 20 straight regular season contests. The Colts are now one away from tying New England's record of 21 straight regular season wins.
"You never want to spot a team 17 points on the road," said Manning. "They came out early and made a lot of plays. But the one thing we've done good all year is controlling what we can control and things worked out for us today."
Joseph Addai finished the contest with 69 yards on 15 carries and Chad Simpson had a late rushing touchdown for the Colts, who have won six straight against Houston.
"I just want to open it up by saying that's a heck of a football team we played," said Colts head coach Jim Caldwell. "They literally owned that first half. They did a good job of running it on us, and certainly gave us some problems in terms of putting pressure on us from an offensive standpoint. Overall, they just did a tremendous job. Our guys showed a lot of heart and came back in the second half and we owned the second half and played extremely well. It was kind of a tale of two halves."
Matt Schaub was 31-for-42 with 284 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Texans (5-6), who have dropped three straight and took a big blow to their playoff hopes. Steve Slaton had 57 yards on 10 carries while Vonta Leach and Jacoby Jones each caught a score and Chris Brown ran one in.
"It's very disappointing," said Houston head coach Gary Kubiak. "As a team you are very disappointed because we practice hard all week then don't come out on Sunday the way we want to."
Trailing by 13 points, the Colts started the second half with the ball and put it into the end zone. The nine-play, 80-yard drive was helped by a pair of pass interference calls on Houston, with the second giving the team a 1st- and-goal at the one. Manning then connected with Wayne on a corner fade three plays later to make it a 20-14 game 3:40 into the third.
Schaub was intercepted on the following touch, but the Colts punted then forced a punt from Houston.
Starting with the ball at their own 35 and under five minutes left in the third, the Colts marched the ball down to the Houston 14, but were held there and a 32-yard field goal from Matt Stover went wide right with 13:21 to play.
Houston was forced to punt after four plays and the Colts got the ball back at their own 11.
Manning was 4-for-4 with 60 yards on the drive, which included a 17-yard pass interference call and a 11-yard run from Addai, and gave his team its first lead of the game on a six-yard toss over the middle to Clark for a 21-20 lead with 8:24 to play.
On the second play of Houston's next touch, Clint Session stepped in front of a Schaub pass and took it into the end zone from 27 yards out for a 28-20 advantage with 8:09 left.
Schaub fumbled the ball as he was sacked on the next possession and Simpson sealed the win with a 23-yard run up the middle with under three minutes to play.
Houston got a 10-yard touchdown catch from Jones to make it a 35-27 game, but it was with 18 seconds to play and Indianapolis recovered the onsides kick to seal the win.
Houston started the game with the ball and put together an 11-play drive that covered 79 yards and ate up 6:35 of clock time. The march was capped as Schaub used play action, rolled out to the left and hit Leach, who caught the ball in the flat and took it into the end zone from seven yards out for a 7-0 lead with 8:25 left in the first.
The Texans forced the Colts to punt on the ensuing touch and were able to add to their lead. It took just seven plays on a combination of runs and passes with Brown banging into the end zone from five yards out for a 14-0 advantage with 2:10 left on the first quarter clock.
Manning was picked off by Brian Cushing deep in Houston territory on the first play of the second quarter and he took it back 35 yards, coupled with an unnecessary roughness call on the Colts.
On 1st-and-10 at the Colts 29, Schaub threw the ball up to the left corner of the end zone and Andre Johnson came down with the leaping reception, but he dropped it as he hit the ground and the play was ruled incomplete. Houston challenged the call and the ruling on the field was upheld. Kris Brown booted a 35-yard field goal several plays later for a 17-0 lead with 10:49 left in the half.
The Colts finally put together a successful scoring drive on their next touch as, on 3rd-and-4 at the Houston nine-yard line, Manning threw the ball into the end zone where Garcon made a bobbling catch to cut the deficit to 17-7 with 5:46 left in the half.
Houston, though, responded with an 11-play drive that covered 65 yards and was finished on a 33-yard field goal from Brown for a 20-7 lead with one minute left in the half.
Indianapolis was driving in the final minute of the half, but Manning was picked off by Brice McCain to preserve Houston's 13-point lead heading into the locker room.
The Colts host Tennessee next Sunday...Houston plays at Jacksonville next Sunday...Manning is 15-1 in his career against Houston with 36 touchdown passes...Clark finished the game with nine catches for 63 yards while Garcon had five catches for 63 yards.
11/29 20:30:58 ET
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