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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Kevin Hickey

Colts drop heartbreaker in 23-19 loss to Texans to end season

The Indianapolis Colts (9-8) fought until the end but ultimately fell 23-19 against the Houston Texans (10-7) on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

This was easily the most physical game the Colts have played this season, and there will be a lot of hindsight analysis, especially with the fourth-down play late in the fourth quarter that resulted in a Tyler Goodson drop to turn the ball over on downs.

There were plenty of chances for the Colts to have won this game, but there were equal amounts of opportunities that Indy failed to take advantage of in the loss.

It’s a heartbreaking defeat considering how hard the team battled despite so much adversity all season, but it’s officially time to enter the offseason.

Here’s everything we know from Week 18 loss that ends the Colts’ 2023 campaign:

Final Score: Texans 23, Colts 19

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Texans 7 7 3 6 23
Colts 3 3 8 5 19

It was over when...

Robert Scheer/IndyStar

The Colts faced a 4th-and-1 at the Texans 15-yard line. Gardner Minshew threw a quick ball to the flat a bit behind Tyler Goodson, who failed to haul in the pass. This turned the ball over on downs and allowed the Texans to run out the clock.

Keys to the game

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
  • The Colts offense converted just 1-of-11 (9%) of their third-down attempts.
  • The offense also failed to find the end zone on any of its three trips inside the red zone.
  • Texans WR Nico Collins had an incredible day, catching all nine of his targets for 195 yards and a touchdown.
  • The Colts pass rush recorded just 2.0 sacks and three quarterback hits on the day.

3 Stars of the game

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
  1. RB Jonathan Taylor: Despite battling through an ankle injury during the second half, Taylor put the offense on his back taking 30 carries for 188 rushing yards and one touchdown.
  2. DT DeForest Buckner: The veteran pass rusher finished with 1.0 sack, two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss.
  3. LB E.J. Speed: The fifth-year linebacker collected 13 tackles (10 solo) and two tackles for loss.

Missed opportunities

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

While the fourth-down call at the end of the game will be what is most discussed, the big picture should focus on the immense missed opportunities throughout the game. Between blown coverages on defense leading to C.J. Stroud’s two passing touchdowns, the missed tackles on defense, or the failure to deliver in key moments on offense, this result came down to the Colts’ failure to take advantage of the opportunities they were given.


  • CB Chris Lammons (ankle) was inactive due to injury.
  • RT Braden Smith (knee) was ruled out near the end of the third quarter.
  • TE Will Mallory (hamstring) left during the first half and was quickly ruled out.
  • CB Julius Brents (hamstring) was injured on the first play of the second half and was ruled out shortly after.

Quick Hits

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
  • WR Josh Downs set a new single-season franchise record for receptions in a rookie season (66).
  • Jonathan Taylor recorded his sixth career 40+ yard touchdown of his career (most in NFL).
  • Texans QB C.J. Stroud threw just six incompletions and finished the game with a 134.1 passer rating.
  • The Colts offense ran for 227 yards as a team, the first time they reached 200 rushing yards in a game this season.
  • No Colts pass-catcher finished with more than 48 yards.
  • The Colts didn’t convert their first (and only) third-down play until late in the fourth quarter.

What's next?

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The offseason begins. The Colts will begin signing players to futures contracts until the roster expands to 90 players, and the preparation for the offseason workouts, free agency and the draft will begin.

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