Somebody from the AFC South is going to the playoffs.
It’s a rule.
And even though he was the personification of his division for much of the night, Brock Osweiler gave the Texans an opportunity to claim that spot.
Osweiler was dreadful in the first half, but put the Texans in position for a 26-23 overtime win against the Colts, helping his team to a 4-2 record.
It wasn’t an artistic success, but he did help them overcome a 23-9 deficit in the final five minutes to force overtime by hitting some big plays downfield.
He finished 25-of-39 for 269 yards and two touchdowns, but it was a boost he and the team needed. The early reviews weren’t good on the hasty $72 million investment, but he was cool at the time it mattered most. He’s now 3-0 all-time in overtime, and at some point it stops being an accident.
They still have plenty of problems, but having Osweiler prove he can win a game instead of being a passenger was a huge step for Houston in a bad division.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. He may not be J.J. Watt, but Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney is showing that he can be the kind of impact player they need.
Of course, you sort of expect that when you pick someone first overall, but Clowney has turned into a much different player since the knee injury which required microfracture surgery.
He’s not simply a physical mismatch as he was in college (though he is still talented), but has become a more well-rounded defender. The Texans use him all over the defense, lining him up inside and out, with his hand down and on his feet. And he’s making plenty of plays, leading the league in tackles for loss.
Coupled with former first-rounder Whitney Mercilus, the Texans still have plenty of talent on defense, even without the former defensive player of the year.
2. The Colts still have the best quarterback in the AFC South, which is why they have a good chance in the AFC South.
Luck still threw a bad interception, and still holds the ball far too long, but it was hard to watch Sunday’s game and not wonder how he’d be with a better supporting cast.
Of course, that’s the Colts’ reality, as they sit 2-4 and last in the worst division in the league.
3. Football coaches make things far more complicated than they have to be, and Colts coach Chuck Pagano was merely the most recent example.
Leading 13-9 in the fourth quarter, the Colts had three good options: 1) Kick an automatic field goal, 2) Let the Luck run a sneak or 3) hand it to running back Frank Gore.
Instead, they put Luck in the shotgun, and he took a sack.
Colts cornerback Vontae Davis bailed Pagano out with an interception on the ensuing Texans possession, but it shouldn’t have come to that. Luck’s strong enough and athletic enough to force his way to a yard or jump over a pile, and not letting him do either also sends the signal they don’t completely trust their line. Maybe that’s justified, but it’s still disappointing.
It’s football. It doesn’t have to be that hard.
4. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri may get an AARP card before he misses another field goal.
The 43-year-old hit three more field goals, giving him a streak of 41 consecutive three-pointers.
He passed Gary Anderson (40) and needs just one more to tie Mike Vanderjagt’s record of 42 (set in 2004, when Vinatieri was merely middle-aged).
5. Texans running back Lamar Miller’s 149 rushing-yard night was impressive on its face, even if it was against the Colts.
Considering how little support he got from a passing game most of the night, it’s even more stunning that he’s productive at all. Of course, he’s never been the bell-cow back the Texans need, and the risk of overuse is real.