Hakeem Nicks had two catches Sunday, but both were vitally important.
The Indianapolis Colts wide receiver hauled in a pass over the middle and sped into the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Nicks’ other catch was an over-the-shoulder grab along the sideline for 18 yards to the Houston Texans’ 3-yard line later in the same quarter. On the next play, Andrew Luck threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dwayne Allen.
That was enough for the Colts to hang onto a 17-10 win and clinch the AFC South Division title and playoff berth at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Nicks had not caught a pass in the previous two games. His last reception of significance was a 10-yard touchdown reception against New England on Nov. 16.
“It has been a few,” Nicks said of getting back to the end zone. “I just wanted to go out there and make plays and they called my number and I showed up.”
Signed in the offseason to a one-year contract, the sixth-year pro has caught four touchdown passes but is often not targeted. His 26 receptions and 287 receiving yards rank seventh on a team with 10 pass catchers registering at least 12 receptions.
Unless he’s extremely active in the final two weeks, Nicks will post career lows in receptions and receiving yards. His previous low was 53 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns with the New York Giants in 2012.
The Colts’ offense posted season lows in points (17) and total offense (278 yards). The previous lows were 20 points twice and 322 yards in a 42-20 home loss to New England on Nov. 16.
Luck, the NFL’s No. 1 passer, completed just 18-of-34 passes for 187 yards with two touchdowns and one interception that the Texans returned for a score. The completions were a season low. The passing yards were his second-lowest total of the season. He passed for 172 yards in a Week 2 home loss to Philadelphia.
Second-year outside linebacker Bjoern Werner had career-high six tackles, two for loss and his first NFL fumble recovery. … Allen’s touchdown was his eighth, which tied Marcus Pollard for fourth on the franchise list for tight-end scores in a season. … Cornerback Vontae Davis intercepted his fourth pass of the season, which ties his previous seasonal best, set twice in Miami in 2009 and 2011. … Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois had the Colts’ only sack, giving him a career-high three for the year. … Running back Dan Herron had a team-high 60 yards rushing on 11 carries, including 35 on five carries in the Colts’ final scoring drive for a field goal. … Adam Vinatieri’s 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter extended his streak of successful kicks without a miss to 34 games, which moves into fourth place on the league career list. … Punter Pat McAfee tied his own franchise record set last year with his 27th punt downed inside the 20-yard line. … Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had two sacks, raising the league MVP candidate’s total to 16.5 for the season, 53 for his four-year career, which ties Mario Williams for the franchise record. … The Colts improved to a league-best 19-4 (.826) in one-possession games since 2012. They’re also 6-0 at home in December in that span, and extended their division win streak to 12 games, the longest active streak in the league. That also ties a franchise record set from 2004-2006. The Colts have won 10 or more games in 14 of 16 seasons, the most of any team since 1999.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.