As soon as the Houston Texans prevailed at Jacksonville last Sunday, head coach Bill O’Brien didn’t hesitate to bring it up.
Some coaches might steer clear of mentioning such negative history, how the Texans have never won in Indianapolis in a dozen trips. But that’s what it’s going to take for the Texans (7-6) to keep their playoff hopes alive on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts (9-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It’s the truth,” O’Brien said on a Wednesday conference call. “I just try to tell my team the truth.”
Zero-and-12. Oh, and forget about that? Not a chance.
But that’s what the Colts intend to do. Head coach Chuck Pagano has made it clear the past is just that. The Colts can clinch a second consecutive AFC South Division title with a victory. That’s what matters, not how the rest were won.
Pagano is aware the Texans are treating this like a playoff game. So is he, and that’s what he expects from his players.
“That’s what it is,” Pagano said. “We have an opportunity, which everybody knows.
“We’re going to prepare the way we need to prepare. We’d be foolish, just because we’re playing at home and what not, forget all the records, throw out everything. It’s a division game, division rival. We know how they’re going to prepare. I know coach O’Brien is going to have that team ready to go. It’s the first thing they talked about coming off their last win. We understand where their mind-set is and we’ll prepare accordingly.”
Expect the best from game-wrecking defensive end J.J. Watt, a league MVP candidate who has returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns this season and also caught three passes for scores on offense. The 45-yard fumble return came against the Colts in a 33-28 home loss on Oct. 9.
Expect a great effort from Texans running back Arian Foster, who has five career 100-yard rushing games against the Colts, including a career-high 231 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. He’s also run for 165, 158, 109 and 102 yards against the Colts in his six seasons. The 109, along with two TDs, came in the previous meeting.
“Oh, he’s a great back,” said Colts defensive tackle Arthur Jones, “if not one of the best backs, he’s a tremendous back, a guy who I respect and a guy who can make you silly if you’re not in your gap.”
Jones won a Super Bowl ring with Baltimore before joining the Colts in the offseason. He realizes the opportunity to clinch the division and a playoff berth must be seized as soon as possible.
And he didn’t know the Texans’ 0-12 history in Indianapolis.
“Oh really? Is that right?” Jones said. “They’re a good football team. Those guys get paychecks, too. I can’t really look at that stat. You’ve just got to be ready.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.