Monday, April 9, 2012

APR's top 25 regular season upsets: #18

#18: 2011 Week 16: Texans 16, Colts 19 (ρ=1.2831)
Texans' season: finished 10-6, clinched the #3 seed in the AFC, and won the franchises' first-ever playoff game before losing in the divisional round.
Colts' season: finished 2-14, as Peyton Manning sat out with a neck injury. Head coach Jim Caldwell was fired at the end of the season, and the Colts (once again) have the first overall pick in the draft.
What happened: there are a couple big mitigating factors for the Texans—they were starting their 3rd-string rookie quarterback, and they were missing defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. But the fact is, they were facing a pretty awful 1-13 Colts team that had come apart like a $3 watch without Peyton Manning. This is a game they should've won.
The Texans executed a pretty reasonable game plan: run Arian Foster a lot, and give T.J. Yates a few short passes in between runs. It probably would've worked, except the Texans' offense took too many sacks and too many penalties, and finished the game with just 16 points scored.
Even that migh have been enough. The Texans' defense held the Colts to just 12 points through most of the game. But with 1:50 left to play in the game, that defense needed to get one more stop. Instead, they allowed the Colts offense to drive 78 yards in 12 plays and score the game-clinching touchdown.
Also of note: I wrote about this game in the week 16 pick results and the biggest upsets of 2011.

Next week: an awful quarterback doesn't matter when you can rush for 400 yards.