INDIANAPOLIS – Justin Houston has a beef with the NFL.
His contributions to the Indianapolis Colts’ 26-20 win over the Texans Sunday in Houston’s NRG Stadium included generating 3 sacks for the eighth-time in his 10-year career. The third one came in the fourth quarter when he looped inside and brought down Deshaun Watson in the end zone for his second safety of the season and fourth in his career.
Houston’s four safeties tie the NFL record with Jared Allen, Doug English and Ted Hendricks.
It’s on that point he’s at odds with league historians. He’s convinced getting Watson in the zone was No. 5 on his hit list.
“I got one in Denver when I was in Kansas City,’’ Houston said. “It was a sack-fumble in the end zone and it was a safety, but they gave it to the team and not me so I really think I’ve got five and not four, so the NFL is shorting me a safety.’’
In a 2016 meeting with the Broncos in Denver, Houston got to Trevor Siemien for an 8-yard sack in the end zone. Siemien fumbled on the play and Denver tackle Russell Okung recovered, resulting in a “team’’ safety.
“It’s the clearest sack/fumble in the end zone. It’s a safety,’’ Houston argued. “The tackle recovered it and no one touched him down so they gave it to the team and not to me and I’m the one who caused it.
“I think that’s my safety and still don’t understand how the NFL hasn’t given me that safety.
“In my mind and in my household, I’m No. 1.’’
Houston’s impactful day pushed his sack total to a team-high 7.5 and his career total to 97, tied-40th in NFL history. He led the Colts with 11 in 2019.
The defense matched a season-high with 5 sacks. DeForest Buckner had 2 in his first game back after missing last Sunday’s Tennessee loss while on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Rivers started his 247th consecutive game, and second since injuring his right big toe Nov. 22 against Green Bay. NFL Network reported the injury is a plantar plate rupture that might require offseason surgery while a source with knowledge of the injury described it as turf toe.
“Rather not get into the details of everything,’’ Rivers said. “Shoot, I’m just working each week to find a way to be out there. I don’t feel any limitations as far as what I can do out there. It’s just a matter of managing it week-to-week at this point.’’
Coach Frank Reich agreed that the injury isn’t forcing him to alter his play-calling while Rivers deals with the injury.
“It’s not like we’re running sprint-outs and bootlegs with him,’’ he said. “He’s a pocket passer. He doesn’t scramble a whole lot.
“Whatever level of pain that he’s dealing with, I feel that he can still play winning football. And he’s getting better each week and we feel good about that.’’
Rivers completed 27-of-35 passes for 285 yards and two TDs for a 119.3 passer rating.
During the game, he pushed his season yardage total past 3,000 yards, becoming the fifth QB in NFL history to reach 3,000 yards in 15 seasons. He joined Peyton Manning (16), Drew Brees (16), Tom Brady (18) and Brett Favre (18).
Welcome back, T.Y.
It’s uncanny, and it’s on-going. T.Y. Hilton owns the Texans, and Houston’s NRG Stadium is most certainly his home-away-from home.
An otherwise quiet season became an afterthought as Hilton exploited the Texans – again – for eight catches and 110 yards, both season highs. He added a 21-yard touchdown catch from Philip Rivers.
Hilton entered the game with the 33 100-yard receiving games – 3rd-most in franchise history behind Marvin Harrison (59) and Reggie Wayne (43) – but hadn’t reached triple digits in his last 23 games, including the playoffs. He had 100 yards on seven catches in the first half.
How does Hilton explain his mastery of the Texans?
“I don’t know. I guess . . . I don’t know. I don’t know,’’ he said. “Just do what I can, man. My team need me to step up and make plays here and I just constantly do that.’’
In 18 career games against the Texans, including the playoffs, Hilton has 98 receptions, 1,732 yards and 11 TDs. In 10 appearances in Houston: 57 catches, 1,146 yards, eight TDs. Sunday was his eighth 100-yard game against the Texans.
“Obviously a great day by T.Y.,’’ coach Frank Reich said. “Got him going and he did what T.Y. does here at this stadium. He really provided us a spark and got s going.’’
On the Colts’ first drive, Rivers’ first pass went to Hilton for 18 yards and the last one on the six-play drive was a 21-yard TD to Hilton.
“I certainly wasn’t part of it, but heard about the type of performances he’s had here at this stadium,’’ Rivers said. He got off early.
“He had a huge day. I kinda thought it was about to be a 200-yard day the way that first half was.’’
Left tackle issues
The Colts entered the game without starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo (knee) and quickly lost backup Le’Raven Clark. He injured his left ankle on the opening drive and did not return.
Clark was replaced by Chaz Green.
For those keeping track at home, the Colts now are 3-11 when Castonzo has missed a game because of an injury.
More from Moore
Nickel corner Kenny Moore II enjoyed one of his better games with eight tackles, one interception and three passes defensed. The interception was his third of the season, matching a career high, and came when he wrestled the football away from Texans wideout Brandin Cooks.
Watson had attempted a Houston-record 237 consecutive passes without an interception.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.