Less Than Perfect, Yet Still Perfect

It wasn't a flawless effort by the Indianapolis Colts. And yet, for the second week in a row they finished off their opponent in convincing fashion by trampling the Houston Texans 38-20.

Seven weeks into the season after what many thought was a disasterous-looking preseason, the Colts 7-0 start is the best in franchise history. And for icing on the cake, the team provided head coach Tony Dungy with his 100th career victory.

After jumping out to a 14-0 start, the Colts went into the locker room at halftime knotted 14-14 with the 0-5 Texans. But just as they did on Monday night against the Rams, they remained poised and methodical and went on a 24-6 run in the second half.

The first half had some low points, including a Peyton Manning fumble and interception, spotty kickoff coverage, and puzzlement over how to stop the Texans' Domanick Davis and David Carr's rushing attack. At halftime, the Texans' play mix was 26 runs against just 6 passes. Houston's game plan, keeping Carr out of the crosshairs of the Colts' dominating pass rush while chewing up the clock worked magnificently through the first half. And the miscues by the Colts offensively were just enough to keep the Texans competitive during the first 30 minutes.

Davis shredded the Colts defense for 85 yards on 22 carries in the first half, including a touchdown. But unlike other backs who had put up some decent first-half numbers rushing against Indianapolis, Davis did it with a consistent pounding, not off of one or two big runs. His longest rush of the first half was just 11 yards. Meanwhile, what Carr couldn't accomplish in the first half with his arm (3-5-24, 1 TD, 1 INT), he made up for with his feet, rushing 4 times for 34 yards.

The Colts offense didn't have to punt in the first half. They scored handily on two possessions and surrendered it twice. Wide receiver Brandon Stokley set up Edgerrin James' first touchdown run of the day from 1-yard out with a nifty catch and run for 24 yards. On the play, Texans cornerback Phillip Buchanon grabbed a handful of Stokley's jersey as he blew by, yet was still unable to prevent the completion to the determined and scrappy receiver. Their second scoring drive was a quick three-play strike that was capped by Dallas Clark's short catch as he sprinted straight off the line -- that he took all the way in for the score from 31 yards out.

The second half was an entirely different story. About the only problem area that didn't get erased in the locker room was the Colts' special teams kickoff coverage -- which actually got worse. Three of the four kickoff returns in the second half were for at least 35 yards, including an 89-yard return for a touchdown in the fourth-quarter.

The offense lashed out with three scoring drives in four possessions. And on that fourth possession, they still didn't need to trot Hunter Smith out on the field to punt. While they worked on running out the clock with 7:49 remaining in the game, Dominic Rhodes slashed through a worn-out Houston defense for 48-yards on five carries to allow the Colts to take a knee and put away the game.

The Colts' first score of the second-half came on a 9-yard run by James behind some spectacular blocking. The Colts then used almost half of the third quarter to mount a sixteen-play, 66-yard drive that stalled after a controversial play where Manning went in motion and center Jeff Saturday directly snapped the ball to Dominic Rhodes. The Colts running back pushed the ball from the Houston 7-yard line to the 2, but the play was flagged for illegal motion against Manning. The Colts didn't recover from the setback and settled for a 36-yard field-goal by Mike Vanderjagt.

In the fourth quarter, the Colts scored on offense with a four-play 50-yard drive that included a 30-yard run by Edgerrin James and a 7-yard touchdown catch by Marvin Harrison. Roughly five minutes later, Robert Mathis sacked David Carr and forced a fumble that was snatched up by Montae Reagor. He chugged 37 yards for the Colts' final score of the game.

The Colts have a bye next weekend before they take on the Patriots on Monday Night Football on November 7th. The Texans (0-6) host the Browns.

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