INDIANAPOLIS – In the last game of the season, the Colts found one last way to lose.
The Texans’ Davis Mills hit Jordan Akins for a 28-yard touchdown on fourth-and-20 with under a minute to play and then converted a two-point conversion on another pass to Akins for a dramatic 32-31 win at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.
Sam Ehlinger hit Mo Alie-Cox for a four-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give the Colts their first lead and Chase McLaughlin added to it with a 54-yard field goal, before Mills and Akins’ heroics.
The Colts end the season on a seven-game losing streak and finish 4-12-1. Jeff Saturday was 1-7 in his tenure as interim head coach and now waits for owner Jim Irsay’s decision on his future.
Houston jumped out to an early 10-0 lead. Mills led the Texans on a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the opening possession of the game. Mills connected with Brandin Cooks for an 11-yard score.
Dallis Flowers fumbled the ensuing kickoff and M.J. Stewart recovered for Houston, leading to a 37-yard Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal.
The Colts answered with a 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Ehlinger converted a fourth-and-one with a five-yard run, then found Michael Pittman Jr. for a one-yard touchdown pass.
The Texans were driving for more points when E.J. Speed forced a Royce Freeman fumble that Julian Blackmon recovered. Houston defensive end Jonathan Greenard intercepted a pressured Ehlinger on the very next play and took it back 39-yards for a touchdown.
Ehlinger responded by moving the Colts in position for points, but threw another interception. This one to Christian Kirksey at the Texans’ two-yard line. Houston led 17-7 at halftime.
The Colts cut the Houston lead to just three midway through the third quarter on a Zack Moss 15-yard touchdown run.
The Texans marched back down the field on their next drive. Mills connected with Akins for a 19-yard touchdown to make it a 10-point game again.
Houston could have began to put the game away after forcing a three-and-out, but Mills threw interceptions on consecutive possessions.
First, Rodney McLeod picked him off and returned it 26-yards for a touchdown to give the Colts life. Then rookie Rodney Thomas II got him for his team-leading fourth interception to set up Alie-Cox’s touchdown.
Moss ran for 114 yards on 18 carries, while Zaire Franklin had seven tackles to break Shaquille Leonard’s team record of 163 in 2018.
Pittman Jr. fell one catch short of becoming the first Colts’ player with 100 catches since Reggie Wayne in 2012.
Both teams showed their support for Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest during the Bills-Bengals game on Monday night and remains in a Cincinnati hospital.
The Colts outlined the “3” of the 30-yard line for Hamlin’s jersey number. Both teams wore “Love for Damar 3” shirts during pregame warmups and gathered together for a prayer at midfield.
Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard now turn their attention towards the offseason. The first order of business will be to hire a head coach, before preparing to make a top-five draft pick.