Colts escape with a win, but injury to QB Anthony Richardson looms large
Colts defeat Texans 31-20
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Houston Texans 31-20 at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Things started great for Colts’ rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, who led the offense to two straight scoring drives to start the game.
The first, an 18-yard touchdown scamper for Richardson in just his second ever NFL regular season game.
Three plays later, Texans second-overall pick CJ Stroud lost the ball on a Samson Ebukam strip-sack.
Richardson only needed one play to score his second rushing touchdown of the day, and third on the season.
He took advantage of the short field with a 15-yard touchdown run that put the Colts up 14-0 early in the first quarter.
The touchdown came at a cost, however, as Richardson was hit hard by Texans safety M.J. Stewart as he crossed the goal line.
The rookie QB’s head slammed backwards on the turf, but he got up and ran off seemingly without issue.
Richardson stayed in the game for two more drives, both three-and-outs for the Colts.
After the second punt, he seemed to pull himself from the game, heading to the blue medical tent for evaluation.
It didn’t take long for the trip to the tent to turn into a trip to the locker room with the training staff.
Richardson was later ruled out of the game with a concussion.
Backup QB Garnder Minshew, acquired by the Colts as a free agent last March, stepped in for the injured rookie and immediately led the offense down the field, culminating in an 11-yard touchdown run by running back Zack Moss.
Minshew’s next drive was just as fruitful, as the offense went 13 plays for 71 yards and a passing touchdown to tight end Kylen Granson, putting the score at 28-10 at the half.
The Colts defense forced a punt to start the third quarter, and Minshew’s offense tacked on three more points to give them their biggest lead of the day at 31-10.
The rest of the half belonged to CJ Stroud and the Texans, who led two straight scoring drives and a third that resulted in a missed field goal.
The comeback attempt, however, fell short as the Colts finished strong with the 11 point victory.
Colts’ owner Jim Irsay spoke to WISH-TV’s Andrew Chernoff after the game.
“What a performance,” Irsay said. “What a great win for Shane Steichen, showing what kind of football team he has built.”
This was Steichen’s first win as an NFL head coach.
Irsay was also quick to talk about the concussions suffered by two of the teams’ star players.
“Concerned about Anthony getting dinged in the head but he says he feels fine, as does Ryan Kelly,” Irsay said. “Anthony was clear and feeling a lot better.”
Steichen liked what he saw in his first career win.
“Overall a good first win for us. I thought the defense played hard, offense played hard, the special teams was good,” Steichen said. “It was good to get that first victory.”
Gardner Minshew has been a capable quarterback over his five-year NFL career and split first-team reps with Richardson during training camp.
“I got a lot of reps this offseason with that starting offensive line, with those receivers, so they all made it really easy for me to come in today and for us to go win,” Minshew said in a postgame press conference.
Anthony Richardson went 6/10 for 56 yards, adding 3 carries for 35 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Minshew’s relief efforts proved positive, going 19/23 for 171 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions.
CJ Stroud went 29/45 for 367 passing yards and two touchdowns.
The Colts’ pass rush got to the rookie QB, sacking Stroud 6 times over the course of the game.
Michael Pittman led the Colts in receiving with 8 catches for 56 yards on 12 targets.
Houston’s wide receiver Nico Collins had an outstanding day with 7 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Zack Moss was the only running back for the team that had a single carry, taking 18 handoffs for 88 yards in a touchdown in his first game this season. Moss missed Week 1 after breaking his forearm early in training camp.
The Colts’ defense held Houston’s run game to a paltry 2 yards per carry.
Quarterback Anthony Richardson was ruled out with a concussion in the second quarter
Center Ryan Kelly was ruled out with a concussion in the third quarter
Defensive End Kwity Paye was shaken up early in the first half, but came back and picked up a sack later in the game.
The Colts will head to Baltimore for a 1 p.m. matchup with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens next Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Texans have another AFC South showdown as they head to Jacksonville to take on a Jaguars team that just beat the Colts last week.