Houston backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels, who started the game because of an illness to starter Matt Schaub, spent most of the game doing a solid Peyton Manning impression, picking the Colts apart. But when Rosenfels tried to channel John Elway, it all went horribly wrong for Houston.
Facing a third-and-eight at the Indianapolis 29-yard line, Rosenfels made a play fake and took a deep drop. Seeing no one open, the quarterback tried to run for the first down and nearly made it, picking up seven yards before launching himself, Elway-style, into the air in an attempt to pick up what would be a crushing first down for the Colts' chances.
Instead, Marlin Jackson and Raheem Brock combined to windmill Rosenfels in the air, and Brock forced the football out of his hands. Gary Brackett scooped it up and rambled 68 yards for a touchdown that cut the lead to just three points, 27-24.
Reggie Wayne makes the game-winning catch over Jacques Reeves
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
On Houston's next possession, Rosenfels again tried a scramble on third down, and was again stripped of the ball — this time by Robert Mathis, who tipped the ball out from behind and fell on it at the Houston 21-yard line.
Two plays later, Manning found Reggie Wayne in the end zone to give the Colts a 31-27 lead. Wayne made a spectacular, one-handed catch while spinning around to catch the go-ahead touchdown.
Despite the two big plays from the Colts' defense, they still had to do what they couldn't against Jacksonville two weeks ago — hold onto a late lead with the game on the line.
This time, however, a shaken Rosenfels did the job for them, serving up an easy interception for Melvin Bullitt that sealed the Houston collapse.
The Colts led after the first quarter, 10-0, but Houston dominated the game after that, ripping off 27 straight points to put the Colts in a dire situation before Rosenfels attempted his heroics.
Manning had his highest passer rating (101.0) of the season, completing 25-of-34 passes for 247 yards and the touchdowns to Santi and Wayne. Wayne was Manning's top target with seven catches for 97 yards.
Joseph Addai picked up 71 yards on 17 carries to lead the ground attack.
While the defense made the late plays to save the Colts, they still gave up over 150 yards rushing for the fourth time in four games. Steve Slaton had 93 yards and two TDs for the Texans. Rosenfels complete 21-of-33 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown to Andre Johnson, one of his nine catches for 131 yards.
The 2-2 Colts host Baltimore next week.