By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — COLTS 25, TEXANS 3
Player of the Game
Darius Butler, CB, Indianapolis
In just his third start of the season, Butler responded with three interceptions and two pass deflections as the defense had its best all-around performance since September. Butler's picks were especially significant because both came on targets to notorious thorn in the Colts' side Andre Johnson. It was another example of a subtle change by head coach Chuck Pagano paying off. Three weeks ago, Pagano moved Butler ahead of Cassius Vaughn on the depth chart. The move turned golden Sunday.
Indianapolis ended an ignominious streak when Andrew Luck threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Griff Whalen just more than five minutes into the first quarter. It was the team's first touchdown in the first half since Oct. 20 against Denver, a span of six games. The Colts converted on their first five third-down chances, breaking another slump, and put up 20 points before intermission. They had scored 24 combined in the previous six outings. Things slowed down in the second half, with just an Adam Vinatieri field goal and a defensive safety going up on the board. But, for the first time in weeks, the offense did more than enough to hold its own.
The highlight was Robert Mathis' strip-sack of Case Keenum that resulted in a third-quarter safety. The sack gave Mathis 16.5 for the season and 108 for his career, surpassing Dwight Freeney's franchise records in both categories. The Colts allowed just 239 total yards and 12 first downs, keeping the opponent out of the end zone for the first time since a 37-3 victory at Jacksonville on Sept. 29. Add in two takeaways on Butler's interceptions, and it was fine day all around for the Indianapolis defense.
Special teams: A
Vinatieri made field goals from 37, 43 and 40 yards, and Pat McAfee dropped two of his six punts inside the 20-yard line. Whalen also gave the crowd a thrill with a 51-yard punt return that led to a field goal. It wasn't all good news, however, with stalwart Sergio Brown and former rugby star Daniel Adongo leaving the game with injuries. Their status will be updated later in the week.